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 Virtual Work Shadowing

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

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 2021 programme offered first year students the chance to work together online on a project set by a graduate employer. This was an opportunity to explore different career options available to you, and to find out what’s on offer in the North East and beyond. 


2021 Programme

This year's First Year Virtual Work Shadowing took place during the last week of Easter vacation. 

Tuesday 20 April 2021: Making the most of your experience

During this session, you will be assigned into your group. We will let you know what to expect on your project 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.

Wednesday 21 April 2021: Work shadowing/project day

You will work in teams on a real life brief/project set by one of our graduate employers. You'll meet the employer online then work with your team, with support from the employer, to complete the brief and prepare your presentation for Thursday.

Thursday 22 April 2021: Reflecting on what you have done

On the final day, you will present the results from your project and reflect on what you learned from the day. You may also get the chance to hear about the experiences of other students. 



Opportunities for shadowing cover a range of roles in different sectors. All of the projects will be completed online.

Employers who took part in the 2021 programme were:
  • Inpress Books – (publishing company) – project will offered a hands-on overview of different aspects of the book marketing process. This will involve proof reading marketing materials, planning marketing strategies for specific titles and drafting online marketing copy. It will be a fast-paced and varied day covering a wide range of topics that will be useful to anyone interested in a career in publishing. Open to all degree disciplines.
  • Environment agency – project will offer an insight into what a day in the life of an Environmental Regulator for the Environment Agency is like. This will involve using documents, photos and information from an operational waste management facility, to identify areas of non-compliance, environmental risk and waste crime. You’ll also be asked to identify potential intelligence sources and potential intelligence and then detail your findings in a short, summary report. Preference for geography, sustainability, and environmental degree disciplines.
  • Hay and Kilner – (law firm) – project will offer an insight into corporate legal work. This will involve working together to review and report on documents relating to different elements of a corporate legal transaction, with a specific brief. Only available for law students or students wishing to practice law after university.
  • Great North Museum: Hancock – project will involve developing a half hour activity for KS2 school groups to do as part of a blended schools focus day around the museum collections. You will work as a team and select an activity that relates to your interests/degree programmes. This project may be of particular interest to those studying history, archaeology, biology, earth science, education or those considering a career in teaching. Open to all degree disciplines.

View some of the presentations from the 2019 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 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 take part during the last 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 2020/21 First Year Virtual Work Shadowing programme is now closed. Applications for next year's programme will open in January 2022.

Find out more

Find out more

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

For other ways to gain experience or improve your skills remotely, see Virtual Opportunities.