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

  • North East Graduate Directory – database of local organisations who offer work experience or accept speculative applications
  • Researching employers – contains sources of company profiles and a list of business directories and databases
  • 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.

Newcastle Hospitals Work Shadowing

Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust offers prospective medical students the opportunity to spend a day work shadowing during the Easter vacation.

This opportunity is open to penultimate and final year Newcastle University students on any degree. This is the primary way of gaining experience in a Newcastle hospital, and places are limited.

Applications for 2019 will open at the end of February. 

Physician Associate Shadowing 

Newcastle NHS Foundation Trust also offers one day of work shadowing for four students interested in becoming a Physician Associate.

This opportunity is open to penultimate and final year Newcastle University students on any degree.

Applications will not be considered from students applying for the hospital work shadowing above.

Applications open in February for one week and the work experience takes place during the Easter vacation. Call in to the Careers Service to find out more.

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.



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 1 April 2019, Armstrong Building: 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 placement 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 week. It’s a chance to meet the other people on the programme and ask any questions you might have.

Tuesday 2 April 2019, employer's site: 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 3 April 2019, King's Gate: 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.

Employers taking part in the 2018/19 programme are:

  • Akzo Nobel (international paints and coatings company) -  will include lab tours, practical demos, and hands-on activities. Aimed at biology, chemistry and physics students
  • Explain Market Research - will include presentations, office tour, practical activity and a Q & A session. Open to all degree disciplines
  • Inpress Books (publishing company) - will include 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
  • Northumbrian Water- the day has been organised by Northumbrian Water in partnership with some of their key supply chain partners. The day will be in two parts:
    • i) Part 1 at consultancy firm Turner and Townsend. This will include hands-on Building Information Modelling (BIM) activities and an introduction to contract law.
    • ii) Part 2 at Northumbrian Water's Water Treatment Works at Horsley, Northumberland. You'll get up close and personal to a live construction project and be given an introduction to water treatment. This will be a walking tour with questions and discussion encouraged. Open to engineering, geography and environmental related degree disciplines
  • Norton Rose Fulbright (global law firm) - will include an overview of the different roles and work streams, eg paralegal work (disputes, banking, knowledge, jurisdictional surveys, intellectual property and real estate), how these tie in with their wider global brand and how they use technology and innovation, IT, marketing and Compliance. The day will include presentations, networking and shadowing team members. Open to all degree disciplines
  • Reece Group (innovative engineering group of companies) - will include a business overview, talks on HR, commercial contracts, marketing and sales, meeting a mechanical engineer and overview of the production process (shopfloor). Preference for engineering and business-related degree disciplines (including marketing and finance)
  • W Communications (PR & communications company) - will include presentations and shadowing, plus practical activities, for example, writing press releases, how to pitch to media contacts and media appreciation. Preference for media, marketing, PR and communications degree disciplines

2017/18 programme highlights:

View some of the presentations from the 2017/2018 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 2018/19 First Year Work Shadowing Experience is now open - complete our online application form to apply

Applications close at midnight on Sunday 24 February 2019.

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