First hand experience at a day-in-the-life.

Less commitment than an internship and more expansive than an informational interview, job shadowing is a great way to explore and connect with folks in your field of interest.  

What does Job Shadowing look like?

Connect with one of hundreds of alums offering to host alums; find a time that works for you both (often over winter break, but not exclusively); spend the day observing/shadowing them at work; gain clarity on what a typical work day looks like in a field or industry of interest; send a Thank You note and potentially stay in touch with your new connection!  That's it.

Many UVM students shadow an alum over winter break to help determine if a certain type of job is a good fit with their interests and goals. Job shadowing is an option for students of all majors, class years, and of any GPA. Hundreds of alums offer to host job shadows in a variety of different industries and locations. You are not expected to have prior knowledge or experience; this is a great learning opportunity!

Past participants’ experiences

Shadowing Step by Step

Find a Host to Shadow

You can find a variety of job shadow hosts by joining UVM Connect, our exclusive online community of UVM alums, students, staff and faculty. If you are new to UVM Connect, you can create an account by signing in with LinkedIn, Google, Facebook, or registering your email.  Once logged in, find hosts by:

  • visiting the Directory and filtering on Mentoring - click Offering Mentoring, and select “Host a student to shadow me at work”
  • refine your search by location, industry, or other interests
  • identify potential hosts (best to find several options even if you only one to shadow once).  For potential host:
    • visit their profile and click on “Request mentoring” and then select “Host a student to shadow me at work”
    • craft your own message inquiring about setting up a job shadow opportunity.
  • Plan ahead - we recommend contacting a potential host at least 2-weeks prior to shadowing. Keep in mind that you are responsible for all transportation and lodging that may be required for the shadowing day.

Sample Outreach Message

Dear Ms. Smith,

My name is Amanda Chase and I am a current UVM student. I saw on your UVM Connect profile that you are open to hosting a job shadower, and I am reaching out to see if I might be able to spend a day with you at your position this winter. I am a sophomore majoring in political science, and am very interested in learning more about state and local government.

Specifically, I would be available to shadow between December 21st -23rd, or January 4th -11th. If you are open to hosting me as a job shadower, could we arrange a time to talk on the phone about what that might look like?

Thank you,

Amanda Chase


  • You might also include some of your reasons for choosing this site, and what you hope to learn.
  • They may ask to see your resume - for resume support and resources, check out our guide to resumes.

Make a Plan

Don't forget to ask: 

  • What time should you show up? What will the schedule be like?
  • How should you get there? What should you know about public transit or parking?
    (You are responsible for getting to the shadowing site, so be sure to choose a site you can get to on the agreed upon date.)
  • What should you bring?
    (e.g. ID, lunch, notebook, money for parking.)
  • What should you wear?
    ​Attire will depend on the particular site. For example, the following options may be a completely appropriate way to dress for a particular job shadowing site:
    • Shadowing at a construction site could necessitate clothing that can protect you from harm.
    • A more traditional, corporate environment may require a full suit.
    • A casual workplace might see most of their employees wearing chinos and polo shirts.

Plan Your Questions

To make the most of your shadowing experience, prepare some questions for your host. This list of questions is not comprehensive, but it is a good place to start. Of course, add your own questions.

  1. What is your exact job title, and how long have you been in your position?
  2. What type of education and training would you recommend for someone just starting out in this career?
  3. What skills are necessary for succeeding in this career?
  4. How has this career field changed since you started?
  5. What makes you excited about your job?
  6. What other careers or industries could you work in with your education and experience?
  7. How has technology changed this career?
  8. How did you choose this employer to work for?
  9. What do you like most about working for this employer?
  10. Can you describe a typical day at your job?
  11. What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your job?
  12. How is your work-life balance?
  13. What's the most valuable lesson you've learned in this job?
  14. What advice do you have for someone considering this career?
  15. What types of jobs or internships should I seek as I continue my education?
  16. What's the biggest stumbling block you see with younger jobseekers?
  17. What do employers in this field look for in younger jobseekers?
  18. Do you expect this field to change much in the next five years?
  19. What is the employment outlook for this career field?
  20. Is there anything else that I have not seen today, or that we have not talked about, that you think is important for me to know as I continue my quest for the ideal career?

Show Up

Shadowing hosts are taking time out of their schedules to do this with you, so be gracious. And you'll want to make a good impression, so remember to always...

  • Use professional communication and respond to messages promptly (within 24 hours).
  • Follow through on your commitments.
  • Communicate any issues to your shadowing host, and inform them immediately if you need to reschedule or cannot make it to your job shadowing day.
  • Show up - on time - at the agreed upon time and place.

Follow Up

Always send a thank you note after shadowing. 
Emails are generally acceptable, but nothing beats the class of sending an old-school thank you card in the mail!

Sample Thank You note:

Dear Mr./Ms./Dr. [Host’s Name],

I want to extend my heartfelt thank you for providing me the opportunity to job shadow you for the day. It gave me a clearer understanding of what the [name of the trade] job demands.  The information has helped me to clarify my direction with greater confidence. It will greatly help me in choosing my career.

Thank you once again for giving me time from your busy schedule and helping me take a closer look at the job. It was an invaluable experience for me.

Yours Sincerely,

[Your name]


For In-Depth Networking Advice

From building your first resume to landing your first job, the UVM Career Center has developed a series of self-paced learning modules in Brightspace to help through every stage! Explore networking opportunities, learn more about joining an interest group for tailored career counseling, practice your elevator pitch, and more.

Join us on Brightspace


Sharing your shadowing day: #UVMshadow

If you use Twitter or Instagram, you can use the hashtag #UVMshadow to share a picture or note about your shadowing day! It's a great way to connect with UVM and other alumni, and a chance to show your Catamount pride. 

We also encourage you to share your story @


Questions about shadowing? Come to the Career Center Drop-In hours or email us at

The University of Vermont Career Center Division of Student Affairs


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