Careers Service

Work Shadowing


Work shadowing is when you observe staff performing key duties in the workplace. It can help you gain a better idea of what employment in a particular job or sector is like.

Work shadowing can also help you:

  • develop commercial awareness 
  • understand the requirements and responsibilities of a particular role, which can help you tailor your applications for further experience or graduate jobs
  • provide evidence of your motivation to work in the sector when applying for graduate jobs
  • decide where your future career interests lie, especially if you manage to shadow more than one role
  • make contacts within the sector and potentially arrange further work experience where you can take a more practical role

Finding shadowing opportunities

Work shadowing opportunities are not usually advertised. Instead, you could approach companies directly about shadowing a member of staff, usually for a day or two. Send them a tailored CV and covering letter, expressing your enthusiasm for the company and sector, and outline what kind of experience you would like to gain.

Where possible, identify a contact name to address your covering letter to. Call or email to find out who is responsible for recruitment within the organisation or a key contact in the department you want to work in.

It’s useful to follow up a speculative application with a phone call a few days afterwards to show you are serious and motivated.

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

Finding organisations

  • Find organisations on MyCareer - click on ‘search organisations’ under the Vacancies tab.
  • Researching employers – contains sources of company profiles and a list of business directories and databases
  • Explore Occupations – find employer directories for specific sectors
  • LinkedIn – an online networking tool allowing users to connect with professionals across all industries
  • LinkedIn's Find Alumni tool can help you find organisations Newcastle graduates are working in

Opportunities for Newcastle University students

First Year Work Shadowing Experience

Our programme offers first year students the chance to spend a day shadowing a graduate employer in the North East. See First Year Work Shadowing for more details.


First Year Work Shadowing

Gain a head start in your career planning through our First Year Work Shadowing Experience.

Getting a graduate job is competitive. Students are now expected to get relevant work experience, as well as achieving their degree. Gaining this experience can seem difficult if you’re not sure where to start, or what you want to do, or if you’ve had no previous experience at all.

Our programme offers first year students the chance to spend a day work shadowing a graduate employer in the North East. This is an opportunity to explore different career options available to you, and to find out what’s on offer locally.


2019/2020 Programme

The First Year Work Shadowing Experience takes place during the first week of Easter vacation each year. To take part, you must be available in the North East to attend all of the following sessions, including your shadowing day.

Monday 30 March 2020: Making the most of your experience

At this 2 hour session, you will be assigned into your group. We will let you know what to expect on your shadowing day and provide you with advice for making the most out of your time. You’ll also get tips on making an effective presentation at the end of the experience. It’s a chance to meet the other people on the programme and ask any questions you might have.

Tuesday 31 March 2020: Work shadowing day

Depending on which employer you have been assigned to, you will spend the day work shadowing at their site. We aim to give you the chance to observe more than one aspect of their business.

Wednesday 1 April 2020: Reflecting on what you have done

The final day will bring you back to the Careers Service with your group to tell everybody in the programme about your experience. As well as a free lunch, you’ll get the chance to find out about what happened at the other organisations. 



Opportunities for shadowing cover a range of roles in different sectors.

The employers taking part in the 2019/2020 programme so far are: 

Science, engineering and IT

  • Akzo Nobel (international paints and coatings company) - includes lab tours, practical demos and hands-on activities. Aimed at science or engineering disciplines: chemistry (preferred) and also physics, biology and chemical engineering
  • British Engines (engineering consultancy) - includes company overview, site tour, shadowing staff and a limited opportunity to take part in practical tasks. Aimed at mechanical engineering degrees
  • The leadership network (leadership training provider, and developer of VR learning platform) – activities include coding, development and 3d art for VR training products. Open to all degree disciplines, particularly computer science and maths
  • Wardell Armstrong (engineering, environmental and mining consultancy) - observing a typical day’s activities of a structural engineer, and discussions over relevant and interesting issues which arise. Aimed at students on civil engineering degrees with structural modules

Law and Government

  • Civil Service – two opportunities:
    • shadowing staff producing UK official statistics, experiencing a typical work day of a statistician/data scientist. Also meetings with colleagues on the graduate scheme in which they will share their experiences. Open to all degree disciplines, but statistics or other maths/science/computer science preferred
    • DWP/ Cabinet Office - shadowing staff at both face to face and tele kit meetings on various different pieces of work including both Cabinet Office/ Fast Stream elements and DWP elements. This will involve watching, reading and/or commenting on presentations and other materials such as graphs, spreadsheets, reports etc. Open to all degree disciplines
  • Norton Rose Fulbright (global law firm) - includes presentations, networking and shadowing team members. Open to all degree disciplines

Media, creative and cultural

  • Explain Market Research – includes presentations on market research, office tour, practical activity and a Q & A session. Open to all degree disciplines
  • Great North Museum – activities include helping staff set up for school workshops, observing one of their planetarium shows, gallery invigilation of 'The Art of Atomhawk' and 'Ancient Iraq' and supporting staff plan the Easter holiday engagement programme. Open to all degree disciplines, particularly aimed at students interested in museums and public engagement
  • Inpress Books (publishing company) – includes activities such as sales and marketing planning, poetry book reviews, online and social media marketing, focus group and proof mailings. Open to all degree disciplines, particularly English language and literature
  • Mediaworks (digital marketing company) - includes a series of inductions to the company, looking at each service offering and how they feed into the wider business. You will also carry out a marketing project set by their PR & Comms team and present back to the department. Aimed at marketing, computer science and data analysis-related degree disciplines
  • Penspen (marketing role in an engineering consultancy) – includes an introduction to Penspen and their marketing team, and taking part in practical hands-on marketing tasks. Open to all degree disciplines

View some of the presentations from last year's programme, highlighting what the students gained from their experience.


Benefits of taking part

Benefits of taking part

  • Get a better understanding of different graduate roles available and what they involve
  • Stand out from the competition, through gaining experience early
  • Gain experience with a top graduate employer
  • Boost your CV with a range of skills and insight
  • Develop contacts which could be useful for future opportunities
  • Gain confidence in arranging further work shadowing 
  • Find out more about what’s on offer in the North East
  • Learn to reflect on your experience and practise your presentation skills
  • Be ready for second year applications for internships or placement years



You must be a first year student available to be in the North East during the first week of the Easter vacation . We particularly encourage applications from students who have little or no previous work experience.

How to apply

How to apply

The 2019/20 First Year Work Shadowing Experience is now closed. Applications for next year's programme will open in January 2021.

You will find out if you have been offered a place on the programme by Monday 9 March 2020. Due the the number of applications we receive, we are unable to offer individual feedback on your application.

Find out more

Find out more

The First Year Work Shadowing Experience runs during the first week of Easter vacation only. To find out more about the programme or to talk to someone about alternative ways to arrange work shadowing, visit the Careers Service