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 My Career - click on ‘search organisations’ under the Vacancies tab.
  • Researching employers – contains sources of company profiles and a list of business directories and databases
  • Sector-specific information – 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 a one-day work shadowing placement each Easter break. 

They take a small number of students applying to medicine and the placement is open to penultimate and final year undergraduates and postgraduates on any degree. This is the primary way of gaining experience in a Newcastle hospital. The shadowing is advertised here and through relevant schools.

The application process has closed for 2019.

Physician Associate Shadowing 

Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals (NHS Foundation Trust) also offers one day of work shadowing for 4 students interested in becoming a Physician Associate in the Easter break. This opportunity is open to penultimate and final year students only, and they welcome applications from undergraduates and postgraduates on any degree programme.

Applications are only be considered from students NOT applying for the doctors hospital work shadowing above.

The application process has closed for 2019.

To find out more about becoming a Physician Associate visit Healthcare.

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.

Day 1: 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.

Day 2: 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.

Day 3: 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 who took part in the 2018/19 programme:

  • Akzo Nobel (international paints and coatings company) -  included lab tours, practical demos, and hands-on activities. Aimed at biology, chemistry and physics students
  • Explain Market Research - included presentations, office tour, practical activity and a Q & A session. Open to all degree disciplines
  • Inpress Books (publishing company) - included 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
  • Leica Biosystems - included a general overview of R&D, overview of immunohistochemistry, Q & A with current placement students, microscope session with a pathologist, overview of detection chemistry projects and an overview of RNAscope technology
  • Mediaworks (digital marketing company) - included an introduction to Mediaworks, looking at their service offerings, and a project with their PR & Communications department
  • Northumbrian Water- the day was organised by Northumbrian Water in partnership with some of their key supply chain partners. The day was in two parts:
    • i) Part 1 at consultancy firm Turner and Townsend. This included 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. This included seeing a live construction project and an introduction to water treatment. Open to engineering, geography and environmental related degree disciplines
  • Norton Rose Fulbright (global law firm) - included 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 included presentations, networking and shadowing team members. Open to all degree disciplines
  • Reece Group (innovative engineering group of companies) - included 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)


View some of the presentations from the 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 closed. 

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