How to Start Job Shadowing

Learn more about the career that you're interested in.

Job shadowing is a great way to get a glimpse into a profession you’re interested in pursuing. 

  • How to decide where to job shadow
  • How to set up the experience
  • What you will do when you're job shadowing

Career Clusters 101

How do you decide where to job shadow? 

Identify the type of career you want to learn more about. If you want to major in journalism, consider following a reporter at an area newspaper. If you want to pursue a career in veterinary sciences, observe a local vet for the day. Interested in culinary arts? See if you can shadow a chef at a nearby restaurant. If you don’t have specific career aspirations at this point, that’s okay! Don’t let that stop you from learning about a potential profession.  No matter where you job shadow, you will learn what you liked and disliked about the position, and each experience will help you identify the direction you want to go in your future.  

How do you set up the experience?

Ask your friends and family. Where have your friends job shadowed? Do friends’ parents, your relatives or their colleagues work anywhere you want to learn more about?

Post a question. Your social network likely stretches far beyond the number of people at your dinner table, so simply asking people to send recommendations for local businesses where you can job shadow could return several possibilities you hadn’t considered. 

Talk to your high school counselor. Your high school counselor can offer ideas based on what other students have done. If there is an industry that interests you, see if your counselor can give you contact information to somebody that works for the company.  

Contact a business directly. At smaller businesses, you might be able to find an email address or phone number that you can use to connect with the person you want to shadow. If you’re trying to get experience at a larger company, you may want to start by reaching out to the human resources department and seeing if they can help you get something scheduled with the right person.  

What will I do while I’m job shadowing?

Each job shadowing experience is different. It depends on the job, the person you’re shadowing, and the company they work for. Most shadows last the length of a workday, so you can see the ins and outs of their daily routine. Depending on the industry, you may have an opportunity to gain some hands-on experience or participate in their regular tasks. To get the most you can out of the experience, make sure you’re taking notes and asking questions. Remember to be professional while you are there and to send a thank you note after it’s over.