Job shadowing

Job shadowing professionals is a great way to gain information about a certain field and position. By talking to people in your field of interest, you can make more informed major and career decisions and gain insight into what it is really like to have a specific career.

Job shadowing etiquette

  • Contact the person you are interested in meeting. Be sure to indicate how you received their contact information. Ask them if they would be willing to do an informational interview or job shadow. Be sure to indicated how long you would like to job shadow.
  • Dress business casual (dress shirt and dress pants) and arrive 10 minutes early for your appointment.
  • Before your meeting, visit the website of the company they work for so you have a basic understanding of their position.
  • Be prepared with questions.
  • Bring a copy of your resume—your resume will help them get to know you better. You may even have the opportunity to ask for their feedback.

Example of job shadow request

Dear Mr. Johnson, My name is Sally Student and I’m a student at the University of Minnesota. I found your contact information through GoldPASS, the University of Minnesota’s job search database and employer directory. I am considering pursuing a major in (major of interest) and would be really interested in hearing how you chose your major and career path, and what your experience has been like working in the (field of interest) career field. Would you consider doing an job shadow with me? I really hope we can connect. Thank you in advance for your time. Sincerely, Sally Student

Examples of job shadowing questions

  • How did you choose this occupation?
  • What are some career paths for someone in your field?
  • What skills or qualities are important for this position?
  • What are the rewards and challenges of this career?
  • What is your educational background and what experience did you have prior to this position?
  • What are your main responsibilities as part of your current job? Do you work mostly alone or as part of a team?
  • Can you describe a current project you are working on?
  • What is the organizational culture of this company?
  • What are some entry level job titles and functions related to this field?
  • If you were a college student again, what would you do differently to prepare for this job?
  • What types of activities or experiences (student organizations, internships, etc.) would enhance career potential in this field?
  • Is there someone you would suggest I speak with to gain more information about this career?

After the job shadow

  • Send a thank you note stating what was helpful from the meeting.
  • Contact the people they referred you to and keep in touch with them.
  • Reflect on what you’ve learned:
    • How do you view this career differently now than before?
    • What is your overall impression of the occupation and work environment?
    • What did you like most about the career?
    • What did you like least about the career?
    • Can you see yourself in this occupation, based on your personality, values, strengths, and skills?

Example of job shadow thank-you note

Dear Mr. Johnson,

Thank you for providing me with the opportunity to gain more detailed information about the (field of interest) field. It was very helpful to learn about your position and hear your insight about the growth of the (field of interest) field. Having the chance to meet you and your colleagues made me even more interested in (major of interest)! I hope to have more conversations with you in the future. Thank you for your help!

Sally Student

More About On-the-job Experience