What Is Job Shadowing?


I’ve heard about “job shadowing” – what is that?

Job shadowing is the name given to the opportunity for you to observe or “shadow” someone doing their job.

A job shadow can be as simple as an hour-long visit with one person, to an extended week-long stay allowing interaction with numerous staff and observation of a variety of activities.

February is a good time to think about this, as many job shadow programs happen on or around Reading Week.

Too often we choose a career target without a really clear idea about what that job actually looks like day to day.

The benefits of doing a job shadow are obvious.

You get a chance to see someone actually doing a job that is of interest to you.

And because you are at their actual place of work, you also get to see inside the workplace.

This will give you some insight into workplace culture, norms, and dynamics.

And on top of observation, you will likely also get a chance to ask questions so you can find out more about exactly what you are most curious about.

How to find a job shadow experience

You can arrange one on your own – many students do. Locate someone working in the type of job you’re interested in and ask.

If that seems a bit intimidating, depending on where you go to school, you may be in luck. Many campuses organize job shadows for students. Check your campus career centre or alumni office.

February is a good time to think about this, as many job shadow programs happen on or around Reading Week.

Examples of job shadow programs

Click here to check out more of Cathy’s answers to career questions from students and grads just like you

Photo credit: Job Shadowing with Charlie, Social Networking by Bob Schoenherr
About the author

Cathy Keates is a career counsellor and trainer who has worked with university students and graduates for the past decade, helping them to strategically create careers they will love. She has worked as a career counsellor at Queen's University and was the associate director of the career centre at York University. Convinced that we can all create lives based on authenticity and integrity, she is the author of the new job search book Not for Sale! and shares her thoughts about finding work without losing yourself on her blog, Transform Your Job Search.