Make Career Connections with a Job Shadow

What is a job shadow? 

Job shadow is short-term (half-day, one-day, weeklong) unpaid, and not-for-credit career exploration experience for students to learn about an employer, field/industry, and occupation. During a job shadow experience students will have an opportunity to observe organization operations and staff responsibilities. A job shadow experience may provide a deeper understanding of a specific occupation that goes beyond a job description and/or allow a student to immerse themselves into an environment to better assess their fit in a particular field or industry. 

Student Information

Why participate in a job shadow experience:

  • Learn about the various roles in an industry observe a “day in the life” of a particular occupation
  • Talk to an employer to identify the most important skills for an occupation in order to set goals for skill development
  • Practice talking to professionals to become more comfortable with future interviews and networking   
  • Learn about an organization’s work culture, lifestyle, norms, and expectations
  • Develop relationships with professionals in your field of interest for future networking

Steps to participating in job shadow:

Step 1: Find a job shadow opportunity

  • Use PeopleGrove to search for mentors willing to offer you a job shadow experience (add link to People Grove instructions)
  • Talk to your family, friends, and acquaintances to connect to those in your field of interest
  • Use the Alumni tool on LinkedIn
    • Sign into LinkedIn
    • Search “St. Catherine University” and click on the organization
    • Select the “Alumni” tab to search for alumni in specific organizations, job titles, and those who graduated with your major

Step 2: Request a job shadow experience

  • Submit a polite, concise request
  • Share your hopes and expectations for the experience
  • Provide job shadow host resources (insert link)

Sample request email:

Dear [First  and Last Name]:

My name is [Your first and last name] and I am a student at St. Catherine University. I am exploring career paths and think I could benefit greatly from your expertise in the [industry] field.  I am looking for opportunities to shadow professionals to better understand what a day in the life of a [occupation] would be like. Would you be willing to let me shadow you during a typical workday?

If you would like to know more about what is involved for a job shadow experience, here is a link to some resources for employer job shadow hosts. Hopefully this will help you determine if this would be a possibility for you and your organization. 

I understand your time is valuable and my expectations for this experience are flexible. I would like to work with you to make this easily manageable for you. If you have any questions for me, please reply to this email or call me at ___________. Thank you for considering this request. I hope to hear from you soon. 


[Your Name]

Step 3: Complete your job shadow orientation

Step 4: Reflect on your job shadow experience

Taking time to reflect can help you retain details you may otherwise forget and can clarify what you took away from your job shadow experience to make it more meaningful. Complete this survey to reflect on your job shadow experience.

Employer Host Information

Why become a job shadow host:

  • Develop a pipeline for students to engage in internships or apply for entry-level positions
  • Serve the educational community by helping students prepare for success in your industry
  • Enhance a mutually beneficial relationship with Career Development and the University
  • Boost name recognition and awareness of organization on campus
  • Increase interest in field and organization
  • Gain perspective from students

Expectations for a host:

  • Provide student with an agenda for the job shadow experience in advance (example below)
  • Give guidance about details such as location, parking, and meals
  • Allow an opportunity for an interview between shadower and shadowed
  • Will not ask students to engage in any productive work

Example Agenda:

9:00 a.m.

-Student arrives

-Tour of organization facilities and introductions

9:30 a.m. -Provide context for what the student will be observing throughout the day
10:00 a.m. -Marketing and Promotions team meeting
11:00 a.m.

-Overview of role: (Typical day, what do you love about your job, career path, career goals, things you wish you had known, opportunities for student to continue learning about the occupation, org, or field)

-Informational interview / Q&A

11:45 a.m. -Lunch (specify whether host will pay or if students should bring food or money)
1:00 p.m. -Student departs


By Jen Harshner
Jen Harshner Employer Partner Strategist