A Day in the Life: The Benefits of Job Shadowing

Employment/Jobs Jun 27, 2024 No Comments
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Job searching without clear direction on what it is you really want to do professionally can be more daunting than exciting. If you are wanting to change your career or are vacillating between two or more career paths, learning as much as you can about careers of interest could make all the difference toward you making the right decision for your future. One way to get an up-close and personal look at any job is to spend time job shadowing. Being able to witness someone perform their role for a day or a week can give you an insider’s look at what skills are needed to do it, what daily tasks are performed and much more.

Unlike interning or volunteering, job shadowing is generally a short-term situation that allows you an opportunity to ask questions; be a witness to the work, including meetings or phone calls; and make important connections, but all without having to perform many duties yourself or making a long-term commitment. It can be an efficient way to get a read on a career path and a specific role within that career path before or as you job search.  

Getting Started

It is best to use your existing network to help you obtain a job-shadowing opportunity. Your network consists of the professionals with whom you have an established connection, and they are likely to help you when asked, whether by letting you shadow them or referring you to someone who could be of help.

Through past internships or volunteering positions, or university clubs and leadership roles, you’ve likely met people in a variety of different careers, many of whom would be willing to have you hang around them for a day or a week and learn what it is they do. If you are a member of any professional associations, civic organizations or networking organizations, there will be individuals associated with them who may be willing and able to help. Never forget family and friends who have a vested interest in your future success. They have connections, too. Then, there is also social media; LinkedIn, for instance, is a great place to put the word out that you are looking to job shadow. This might provide a wealth of opportunities. It is often just a matter of spreading the word for job-shadowing opportunities to arise.

Seizing Opportunities

When a job-shadowing opportunity with a reputable company and within your sphere of interest does present itself, seize it. It is a learning experience. You are looking for a good fit and sometimes that means understanding what it isn’t a good fit, too. Because a job-shadowing opportunity is short term, it could be worth your time to take one that isn’t exactly on the nose if it is still within your realm of interest. Each experience allows you to inch closer to the exact right career for you. Also, each experience brings you connections to grow your network.

Before your job shadowing begins, make sure you do some research on the company and the position for which you will be shadowing.*

Before your job shadowing begins, make sure you do some research on the company and the position for which you will be shadowing. Then, you will have some idea of what to expect. Dress appropriately and be on time, whether the job shadowing is in-person or virtual. Be present and observe. Ask questions, even those that you think might be slightly obvious to someone else. Take notes and be prepared to ask follow-up questions after meetings or phone calls. If you are job shadowing in person, ask to tour the office. This will allow you to meet other employees and get a sense of how the office operates, its corporate culture, and how various professionals in a variety of positions interact. If you are asked to take a coffee break with someone or join team members for lunch, say yes and use the time to pick the brains of those in attendance. If you are allowed, read emails and memos to get a sense of the communication frequency and style of someone in the role you are shadowing.

Benefiting from the Experience

Once you’ve completed your job shadowing, take the time to send a thank you note or email to the person you shadowed and, if appropriate, other colleagues with which you spent some time. These are new members of your network, and you never know where these relationships will lead. Sometimes a job-shadowing opportunity leads to a job offer or a referral.  

The experience may also help you identify where you have some gaps in your skills. Now, you can boost those skills before you begin interviewing for positions, setting you up for success. You will also come away having a better understanding of how that professional’s time is allotted in a day, helping you know whether this is a job you’d be happy doing day in and day out, and if it is the best fit for your strengths.

Another positive is that your job shadowing experience can be added to your resumé, as you would add internships or volunteer work. Not only will this strengthen your resumé, but it will also give you another talking point during job interviews. It shows initiative, and a desire to learn and grow, something employers particularly like.  


There is never a wrong time to job shadow. Whether it is as you approach college graduation or mid-career, job shadowing can help you see a career path more clearly and realistically and better understand whether it is right for you. You can job shadow multiple times and for a variety of companies, large and small. You can shadow with various professionals. Each opportunity will help you learn and grow professionally. There is little downside, and plenty of upside.  

* Use GoinGlobal’s Employer Directory

Locate prospective employers and make industry connections with access to thousands of multi-national and local employers based around the globe using GoinGlobal’s Employer Directory.

Job seekers can:

  • Locate prospective employers for networking and job leads.
  • Quickly view company descriptions, revenue and key contacts.
  • Use NAICS codes to search for employers by industry.

Access to GoinGlobal’s resource database is provided through subscribing institutions. Contact your college/university’s career center or library for access instructions.

Mary Anne Thompson

Mary Anne Thompson founded GoinGlobal, Inc. more than two decades ago as a result of her own experiences job hunting in Sweden. She believes that to uncover the real job opportunities, you need the experience and personal insights of trained local specialists. Mary Anne continues to be an active CEO who shares her strategies and insights directly with clients to help them strategically maximize GoinGlobal’s unique resources.