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Work Shadowing

Observing staff in action can provide valuable insights into the realities of a specific job or sector.

Benefits of work shadowing

Work shadowing can help you:

  • develop commercial awareness 
  • understand what a job involves, helping you to tailor applications for work experience or jobs
  • provide evidence of your motivation to work in the sector when making applications
  • decide what your future career interests are
  • make contacts within the sector and arrange further work experience

Arranging shadowing opportunities

Work shadowing opportunities are not usually advertised. Instead, you can approach companies directly about shadowing a member of staff, usually for a day or two.

To arrange shadowing opportunities, start by identifying companies you would like to work for. Then use the following steps to approach them:

  1. Identify a contact name to address your cover letter to. Call or email to find out who handles recruitment within the organisation. Or, find a key contact in the department you want to work in.
  2. Send them a tailored CV and cover letter. Explain what kind of experience you want to gain and why you would like to shadow at their company. Express your enthusiasm for the sector. Show that you have researched the company.
  3. Follow up your speculative application with a phone call, or email, around a week later. This shows you are serious and motivated.
  4. If your application was unsuccessful, ask for feedback or advice, and keep trying!

It may be difficult to arrange shadowing for certain roles where confidentiality or security is important. For example, shadowing psychologists with a patient, or engineers working in defence companies.

Finding organisations

The following resources can help you to find organisations or individuals to contact: