Frequently Asked Questions about U of A Job Shadow Program

What is job shadowing?

Individuals who are exploring career options spend a short period of time accompanying, observing and interviewing professionals in their workplaces.

What activities take place during a job shadow?     

Participants are responsible for initiating contact with their host in order to discuss practical details of the job shadow. During these conversations, they can share any specific activities or learning they would like to accomplish while shadowing.  The host will make a flexible itinerary for your day(s) together.  

Sample ideas for the job shadow:

  • Discuss the host’s career path, work experience and educational background
  • Conduct a tour of the workplace and facilities
  • Observe and accompany the host on their daily activities
  • Meet with and interview some of the host’s coworkers (particularly those in different work areas and/or at different stages of their careers) to get a broader perspective of the field or organization
  • Read organizational documents or reports 
  • Sit in on meetings 
  • Have lunch with the host and their coworkers
  • Try appropriate hands-on activities
  • Debrief with your host 

View a sample itinerary here or watch our job shadow videos: Alberta Innovates Technology Futures or Computronix.

Why would someone want to job shadow someone in their workplace?

Job shadowing is a chance to try a potential career option with minimal time commitment.  By doing a job shadow, participants will get to:

  • Explore diverse career options, with minimal risk or investment
  • Build your professional networks and community connections
  • Get realistic, first-hand information about career paths, jobs, industries and work settings
  • Generate and take advantage of unexpected ‘happenstance’ opportunities
  • Evaluate if you are on the right academic path
  • Practice your communication and interpersonal skills
  • Gain self-confidence in the professional work world
  • Learn transferable career exploration skills that can be used again in the future

Why become a host?

Community members who volunteer to support students get to play an important role in the career development of new professionals.  By sharing their advice, insights, and time, they can:

  • Develop your personal leadership skills, supervisory experience, and self-confidence 
  • Provide a student with the support you had (or wish you had!) when you first started working
  • Increase your connections to programming, resources and students at the U of A
  • Contribute to the long-term growth and strength of your field
  • Build and diversify your own professional networks 
  • Gain fresh eyes and critical minds to reflect on your work-related practices 
  • Feel a sense of career rejuvenation and recommitment 

Are there any costs associated with participating?

There are no direct costs to hosts for participating.  Indirect costs to hosts include the time spent preparing for and conducting the job shadow.  Successfully matched participants pay a $25 administrative fee to the Career Centre and are expected to cover their own incidental costs such as parking, lunch, etc.

What kind of time commitment is required?

Job shadows can take place from one to four days.  

Job Shadow Week takes place twice a year during fall (week of November 11) and winter (February, week of Family Day – third Monday of the month) reading weeks.  When registering, hosts indicate how many days they can host.  When picking their top three hosts, applicants ensure they are available on the days each host indicates.  Work hours are typically during the day, however some hosts work shift work or evening hours.

Both participants and hosts have some preparation to do before the job shadow experience takes place.  Participants will contact hosts prior to the shadow to discuss potential activities and other details like location, hours, parking/transit, attire, etc.  Hosts will spend an hour or two planning activities and preparing an itinerary for the day(s) they are hosting.

Any contact that continues beyond formal job shadowing weeks is at the sole discretion of hosts and participants.

Is there insurance or WCB coverage provided by the University of Alberta?

No.  Job shadowing is not tied to participants’ core academic programming so the University of Alberta is not responsible in the event of personal injury or loss, accidents or other occurrences during a job shadow.  Individuals are responsible for their own actions. We suggest choosing activities that do not put participants at risk for injury.

How are workplace privacy and confidentiality issues handled?

Participants are advised they may not have access to all areas and/or information in the workplaces they are visiting.  Hosts may ask participants to sign a confidentiality agreement.  Hosts should use their own discretion when planning activities participants will complete.

Who can participate?

Undergraduate and graduate students (including students from Faculty of Extension and University of Calgary Social Work Program), postdoctoral fellows, and alumni are all eligible to apply. 

Individuals working in Edmonton, St. Albert, Spruce Grove, Sherwood Park, Leduc and Camrose are encouraged to sign up as a host.  Contact the program coordinator if you do not live in one of these areas and wish to participate.

Do all applicants who apply get to do a job shadow? 

No. There are often more applicants than hosts, we cannot guarantee that all applicants will be matched. Applications are assessed based on the quality of their application.  If you do not get matched, or do not see any hosts that are of interest to you, you can meet with a staff member to discuss how to arrange your own job shadow.

What types of job shadow opportunities are available?

Job Shadow Week involves community members and U of A alumni who have volunteered to host job shadows.  As this is a voluntary program, the Career Centre cannot guarantee that all careers, jobs, industries or work settings are represented.  However, we intentionally partner with diverse organizations that represent a wide range of professions and employee educational backgrounds.  Once the Job Shadow Week application opens, you will be able to preview the list of available job shadow hosts online.  If you then decide to apply to Job Shadow Week, you will select your top three choices from this list. 

What am I responsible for?

Participants will be given details about their responsibilities during the mandatory preparation workshop.  They include such things as researching the host, sharing ideas for meaningful activities, and remaining professional at all times.

Hosts are emailed a detailed guidebook prior to the job shadow. Hosts’ key responsibilities include sharing expectations with participant(s), planning meaningful activities in advance, and providing a safe learning environment.  Hosts can “share” participants with co-workers if there are periods they cannot be shadowed. Contact the program coordinator if you would like to discuss meaningful activities for participant(s).  

How many participants job shadow each host? 

Hosts decide how many participants they are most comfortable hosting at one time. Hosts can choose to host multiple participants on one day, or multiple participants on multiple days. As an applicant, you can see how many potential applicants will get matched to that host (on their profile) but actual numbers are determined based on how many apply to that host. 

Why is there a mandatory preparation workshop for participants after they have been matched to a host?

The mandatory preparation workshop provides participants with information essential to a successful job shadow experience.  Participants will learn how to prepare for and professionally conduct their job shadow.  Participants who do not attend a workshop will be removed from the program.

Are job shadow experiences paid?

No, this is a voluntary program.

Do participants get academic credit or a notation on their transcripts?

No, Job Shadow Week is not tied to an academic program.

Do participants get formally evaluated?

Participants in the program are exploring their career options and are encouraged to reflect on their learning.  Hosts are not required to formally evaluate participants or provide any particular learning activities that are required by academic programs.

Are participants required to be vaccinated? What vaccinations are required?

Participants who are job shadowing under a host from AHS will be required to obtain proof of their rubella vaccination and provide it to their host before the start of their job shadow.

Hosts may require proof of COVID-19 vaccination status from their participants. If required, the participant will be contacted and directed to provide the proof of their COVID-19 vaccination status to their host before their job shadow.

Are criminal record checks required before a job shadow?

In infrequent circumstances, and depending on the nature of the job shadow, a host may request their participant to complete a criminal record check before participating in the program. If required, this information will be included on the host’s profile during the participants’ review. Costs related to the criminal record check are covered by the participant.