Student Job Shadow Information

A job shadow consists of you “shadowing” an alumnus/employer during a typical workday to develop career-related knowledge and skills. You will have the opportunity to engage in career exploration as you consider potential career paths.

Students must be physically located or have transportation to the shadow location. Job Shadow experiences typically occur during one day and last up to 7 hours.  The length of time for the job shadow is determined by the job shadow host.

Below are a few FAQs to help you understand more about the job shadow experience.

How do I apply?

Access application by logging into Handshake, going to WFU Calendar, and selecting May 22 and then “Application Deadline: WFU OPCD Internship: Summer Break Job Shadow Opportunity.”

Application Process:

  1. Handshake Application (see Handshake for full details)
  2. A One Paragraph Job Shadow Reflection (see below for more details)
  3. Resume
  4. Job Shadow Opportunity Survey (Accepted students will receive a link to the Job Shadow Opportunity Survey via email on Monday, June 1. It will be due at the end of the day on Friday, June 5.)

Job Shadow Reflection:

Students should complete a 1 paragraph reflection and include it in their application. Students should answer the following questions in their reflection:

  1. Why are you interested in the job shadow?
  2. What do you expect to discover?
  3. What does your ideal job shadow experience look like?
  4. Where (geographical location) does the job shadow experience need to be?

What will I do on a job shadow?

During a job shadow, you will have the opportunity to get a realistic understanding of a career field and company in action. Activities for your job shadow itinerary may include:

  • Observation of daily routine
  • Participation in meetings or presentations
  • Listening in on customer/conference calls
  • Facility tours
  • Speaking with a variety of employees in different departments
  • Lunch with your job shadow host and other employees

Who will be my job shadow host?

Through this program, your job shadow host will be a Wake Forest alumnus, parent, or friend of the university who is a member of the LinkedIn Career Connections Group.

Where Can I Complete a Job Shadow?

Based upon your application materials, we will try to pair you with a professional in an industry and function area matching your interest.

At this time, we have job shadow opportunities available in the following geographical regions:

  • Charlotte, NC & surrounding area
  • Triad
  • Raleigh, NC & surrounding area
  • Washington, DC area
  • Virginia
  • Atlanta
  • Boston
  • California (primarily San Francisco area with a few limited opportunities in LA area)
  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • NYC

Other locations may be available on a limited basis.

What do I need to know and do before the job shadow?

Before the job shadow, you will want to find out from your host:

  • Location/address and where to go upon arrival
  • Parking information
  • What to wear/dress code (when in doubt, wear business casual)
  • What to bring with you (example: money for lunch)
  • Itinerary for your visit

Additionally, you will want to research the company in which you are planning to visit (go to their website!), as well as look at your job shadow host’s LinkedIn profile in more detail. This research will give you a better idea of what to expect, as well as assist you in crafting any questions that you may have for your host and other employees at the company. Be prepared with 4-5 questions for your host ahead of time. Below are some topics and questions to consider asking:

  • Occupational Field – How has it changed from the time you graduated? How do you see it affected, if at all, by the economy? What graduate degrees are prominent in this industry?
  • Present Job – What do you like best and least about your job?  What types of people do you work with and for?  What is your current role and responsibility?
  • Career Future/Alternatives – What other jobs and careers could you go into? If things develop as you would like, what types of career goals do you see for yourself? Before choosing this path what other employers were you considering?
  • Lifestyle – What obligation does your work place upon your personal time? How much flexibility do you have in terms of dress, hours of work, vacation schedule? How often do people in your line of work change jobs?
  • Advice for a New Professional – How is the current workforce in your industry in relation to the economy? What do you look for in a new hire?  What key words do you look for in a resume?
  • College Activities – Which campus activities helped you prepare for your current professional position?  The job market in general?  Which activities or courses do you wish you had taken to be better prepared for what you are doing right now?
  • Majors vs. Skills/Experience – Did your major influence your career choice/path?  If so, how?  If not, why? How has your major prepared you for your position/career? What skills did you learn in your courses (major) to prepare you? What majors are represented at the company? Which is more important: earning a specific degree or developing certain skills/gaining professional experience?  Why?

What should I bring with me?

You should bring basic materials such as a padfolio or notebook with paper and a pen for writing and taking notes. You will also want to bring copies of your resume for your job shadow host and other company employees that you might meet throughout the day to give them a better idea of your background, experience, and interests. A bottle of water and some cash (for parking or lunch) are also recommended items to bring along.

How Should I Dress?

Dress code often depends on the work environment and company culture. Unless directed otherwise by your job shadow host, plan to wear business casual attire. An example of business casual attire for men would include khakis/dress pants, a button-up or collared shirt, and closed-toed dress shoes or loafers. An example of business casual attire for women would include a knee-length skirt or dress, dress pants, a modest blouse/top, and flats or medium-height high heels. This means NO jeans, shorts, flip flops, short dresses/skirts, or t-shirts.

What are Some Good Practical Professional Behavior Tips?

In addition to these practical items, remember that you are representing Wake Forest University and yourself as a potential employee one day. Be positive, respectful, kind, well-mannered, professional, and mature! This means show up on time – say “thank you” – show appreciation for your job shadow host’s time – and make a positive first impression.

What happens after the job shadow?

  • Thank you – Say thank you to your job shadow host, as well as other employees that you meet with throughout your visit, for sharing their time and expertise with you. Emphasize what you learned, appreciated, and hope to do with the information you gained through the experience. A handwritten note is always a nice touch; however, a personal email is also an appropriate, immediate way to express your gratitude.
  • Future shadow opportunities – Using the skills gained from this experience, we hope you will have the confidence and ability to initiate job shadows and connect with Wake Forest alumni, parents, and friends through the Wake Forest Alumni and Career Connectors groups in the years ahead. This job shadow experience is merely a starting point for continuing to build your network.