Two chefs in white uniforms plating food in a busy kitchen

Top 4 Tips for Summer Job Shadowing

Job shadowing can be a great addition to anyone's résumé. Here's some advice on how to find job shadowing opportunities and excel at them.

Summer is officially here, and proactive college and high school students are likely looking for ways to make their time off from school more productive. Maybe you want to find a way to make your college application stand out from a crowded field or gain real-world experience. For students who can spend a few weeks investing in unpaid job shadowing, it is an excellent way to elevate your college applications and learn what future career path might be best for you.

What is job shadowing?

Job shadowing is when you spend a week, even a few weeks, observing a professional working in their day-to-day position. Through job shadowing, you’ll gain hands-on knowledge that can help you narrow down what academic field or career path you want to pursue. As a high schooler, job shadowing can be particularly beneficial. It demonstrates to colleges that you not only want to become a doctor, engineer, or architect but that you took the initiative to explore the field further. Regardless of whether you’re in college or high school though, it shows your ambition and resourcefulness to colleges and future employers.

job shadowing infographic

Related: Be Productive This Summer With Job Shadowing

1. Use your network

You might think it’s hard or inconvenient to find a job shadowing experience, but that’s a misconception. Many of the best opportunities are not found on a job board but are right in front of you. For example, if you dream of becoming a physician, you could consider reaching out to your family doctor or pediatrician. You likely already have a relationship with them, and if you explain your aspirations and that you would like to learn from them, your doctor might be willing to take you under their wing.

2. Check with your school

Your school might have connections with different companies that encourage job shadowing. Ask your academic advisor, counselor, or someone in the career office for a list of willing organizations. Even if you aren’t sure where you would like to do your job shadowing, they can assist by pointing you in the right direction.

Related: 8 Reasons to Use the Career Center Before Senior Year

3. Reach out directly

If you have a dream job or organization that you know of and no connections to that community, try to reach out to the company directly. You can call or email someone in the human resources department. Mention that you’re an interested student who wants to learn more about the career and would like to job shadow. Be sure to give them specific reasons why you want to shadow at that particular company.

4. Give something in return

When reaching out to your network, emphasize the value you can help bring to the company. Perhaps you have strong skills in social media or graphic design. Let local organizations know that you can help with social media marketing or assist with new social media ideas. Try to make job shadowing mutually beneficial and form a deeper connection.

If you don’t like it…

Don’t be turned off by the career entirely if you have a poor job shadowing experience. Remember, you only spent a short time at the company, and it doesn’t represent the career as a whole. Even people with similar job titles can do completely different tasks. If this happens, try to set up another job shadowing experience to determine if the career path really isn’t right for you.

Related: Internships: Your Dream Job Diving Board

Job shadowing is an excellent way to see professionals in the workforce and decide what career could be right for you. While you’re job shadowing, you might also meet future mentors who can help guide you throughout your academic career. Make the most of this experience and help supercharge your college applications or job search.

For more information on job shadowing and interning, check out our Internships and Careers section.

Like what you’re reading?

Join the CollegeXpress community! Create a free account and we’ll notify you about new articles, scholarship deadlines, and more.

Join Now

careers internships job shadowing jobs networking summer jobs

About Kristen Moon

Kristen Moon is an independent college counselor and founder of Moon Prep provides one-on-one tutoring services catered to university admission. They guide students through the entire application process, including completing applications, personal statements, supplemental essays, student résumés, scholarships, and financial aid. Their specialty lies in the Ivy League, direct medical programs (BS/MD), and highly competitive universities.


Join our community of
over 5 million students!

CollegeXpress has everything you need to simplify your college search, get connected to schools, and find your perfect fit.

Join CollegeXpress
Brooke Maggio

Brooke Maggio

High School Class of 2021

CollegeXpress has helped me tremendously in my college search in narrowing down the schools I’m interested in. Using the college search tool, I was able to narrow down my choices to schools that matched what I was looking for. I also used CollegeXpress for their scholarship search, which helped me find scholarships that I meet the requirements of.

Josiah Kegg

Josiah Kegg

High School Class of 2021

I want to sincerely thank you all for this amazing website that's legitimately helped me find so many different scholarship opportunities. I've been stressing out for the longest time about paying for college since I would rather stay out of debt and have been working days trying to find any scholarship opportunity. When I found CollegeXpress, I discovered many easy scholarships that have given me hope for the future. Thank you and God bless!

Sierra Carranza

Sierra Carranza

High School Class of 2022

I had absolutely no idea where I wanted to go to school; I was considering colleges in almost every state. CollegeXpress was an amazing resource and helped me compare all of my top schools. Without the help of CollegeXpress, I probably wouldn't have made such an informed and confident decision.

Fernando Ponce

Fernando Ponce

High School Junior

College is a way of life that helps us find out who we are as a person, and CollegeXpress is a great way to stay connected with our future, even for students with little time on their hands due to the challenges of high school we face.

Samantha Fils-Aime

Samantha Fils-Aime

High School Class of 2019

I love that CollegeXpress has helped me find some scholarships to apply for but also helped me succeed in school with lots of tips. I also really like how they consistently email me about webinars that teach me a lot of things from the comfort of my home!

College Matches