As the name suggests, work, or job shadowing, is where you observe someone in their role to understand how they do their job. It can be a great way to gain (literally) on-the-ground insights, deepen your knowledge and expand your network. Here are some of the main benefits:
The chance to assess your ‘fit’
Often, a work shadow opportunity will not only explore a specific employee’s day-to-day schedule and duties, but also offer an inside look into the organisation’s culture. Work shadowing allows you to absorb what the atmosphere is really like and accurately assess if you would fit in with it.
Get face time with potential employers
Work shadowing can provide fantastic networking opportunities and the chance to raise your profile. Ensure that you make a great first impression and be proactive in staying in touch with people after you finish to stay ‘front of mind’ for future roles.
Holly Govey, a student at Exeter University work shadowed a Partner in the corporate law department at Thomas Eggar for two weeks. She says:
‘It was fascinating to learn more about the corporate law but of greatest value was the chance to be in an office environment and see what people actually did on a day-to-day basis. I was pleasantly surprised by the high levels of interaction of between people in different parts of the office.’
Watching a person interact with their co-workers gives you invaluable insight into how they communicate, solve problems and conduct themselves in a workplace environment. Observing first hand what skills are needed and understanding which you need to work on gives you the perfect blueprint for your professional development.
How to get it
Often the direct approach is the most effective. You’ll need a clear idea of the type of organisation you want to work for and the kind of role that you’re interested in observing. Start with a small request that’s easy to say ‘yes’ to, such as shadowing for one day, then see if you can extend this to a few days helping out at the organisation.
For more information on work shadowing: