Job Shadow- Tips and Questions

Job Shadowing:

  • During a typical job shadowing visit you “shadow” an employee at work for a couple of hours, or even a full day. The visit provides you with an up-close look at the workplace and the job from an employee’s viewpoint.
  • Take advantage of your chances to observe daily work activities, ask questions, and consider the potential pros and cons of a particular profession or industry. You can also discover workplace skills and career-related experiences that are essential to being successful in your chosen field.
  • Research the employer and/or industry you will be observing. Be sure to prepare 10-15 questions to ask during your time at the job site.
    • Questions to get you started:
      1. I noticed you majored in X and now serve as Y. What did the path to your career look like?
      2. What are important skills/experiences needed to prepare to enter and succeed in this field?
      3. What are current trends/ developments expected in the field within the next 3-5 years?
  • The process for setting up a job shadow is the same as requesting an informational interview, you are just asking for more time. Consider starting with an informational interview and following up with a job shadowing experience to get a deeper look into the field.

Finding people to job shadow

  • Friends, family, and professors.You will be amazed at how many contacts you may be able to make through existing relationships.
  • is a popular social media platform that’s great for connecting with people who are in the world of work. Use LinkedIn to connect and
    engage with Spartan Alumni who may be working in an industry you’re interested in. Search “Michigan State University” then see “Alumni”. You’ll be
    able to sort by major, industry, location and job.
  • Social networks. Are you on Facebook? Twitter? LinkedIn? Do you blog? Social networks grow daily, and new ones are always just around the corner.
  • Attending career fairs can be useful even if you aren’t looking for a job.
  • Career Exposure Events offer a great way for you to learn about career fields directly from alumni who are on campus. These events typically have
    a theme and include a panel of alumni who talk about their career path and what their jobs are like. Students are also given time to ask questions and
    network with the alumni.

Connecting with professionals

  • First, know your purpose. Be clear with yourself, and with them, about why a conversation with them will be helpful to you. How much do you already
    know? How can they help you fill in the gaps?
  • Identify what do you have in common. Are they a Spartan? Do you have a shared contact? Are you members of the same social organization or
  • Ask for what you’re looking for. Be realistic about schedules and time constraints—don’t ask for a meeting with less than two weeks’ notice or for
    more than 30–45 minutes of their time for an initial discussion.
  • The Introduction – asking about setting up an info interview or job shadow might happen face-to-face with someone you know or meet at an event—and that’s great. For others, starting with an email request works well. Give your contact a reasonable amount of time to respond (at least one week) and then follow up with a phone call if needed.
  • Hit all the main points. Explain who you are and how you found them, demonstrate that you’ve already done some research, and request a meeting to learn more.