What is work shadowing?

Observing someone in the workplace can help you to understand their role and how they do their job. Its aim is to provide an insight in to the work environment rather than to give you hands on experience. By spending a day or two in a workplace you’ll experience the realities of a professional environment within a certain industry and be able to question and learn from professionals you encounter to help inform your career plans.

Why should I work shadow?

work shadowing

Work Shadowing provides a unique insight into work environments and enables you to:

  • Gain a better understanding of the job market
  • Develop an understanding of a typical day in a professional work environment
  • Improve your confidence and foster experience for your CV
  • Network with potential employers and recruiters
  • Experience an application process whilst applying to the scheme

Work shadowing is predominantly about trying to give you an insight into a job role and employment sector. Our programme will allow you to see if your initial views change through pre and post-shadowing surveys. We have a number of small, medium and large organisations participating as hosts and the important factor in this scheme is the job role you wish to shadow and not the exact organisation you visit for the day(s). As such you will apply by expressing interest in particular job function and will not apply to a named organisation. This is designed to help you appreciate the variety and diversity of careers available.

Who can work shadow?

Our programme is currently only available to first year undergraduate students at Imperial College London. We have chosen to be selective for this year group as we appreciate that it can be particularly difficult for first year students to secure work experience such as summer internships as preference is often given to those in more senior year groups.

When will work shadowing take place?

Our work shadowing programme will take place twice during the academic year 2017/18.

Round One – Spring, 26 March – 27 April 2018
Round Two – Summer, 2 July – 28 September 2018

How to apply?

You will need to provide details of your motivations, previous experience, availability and select job roles and occupational areas in which you have a genuine interest in learning more about. The work shadowing programme is designed to broaden your understanding of the job market and as such you will not apply to a particular organisation but will be assigned to a host that best fits your interests and motivations.

Spring Application Student applications were open Monday 05 to Sunday 11 February 2018. Applications are now closed.

Summer Application - Student applications are open Monday 21 to Tuesday 5 June 2018 at 09:00. Apply now.

If you have any questions about the scheme, please contact workshadowing@imperial.ac.uk or drop in to the Careers Service, Level 5 Sherfield Building.

If your application is shortlisted and matched to a host you will be contacted within three weeks of the closing date. At this point you will be requested to complete a short pre-shadowing survey. Following completion of the survey you will be asked to make contact with your allocated host to arrange the specifics of your visit including the dates/times etc. Guidance will be provided on how best to approach this task.

* Please note that although the application form is compatible with mobile phones we have found a better user interface is provided on a desktop/laptop/tablet device.


Work shadowing is an unpaid experiential learning experience which gives short exposure to a professional environment. As such you will not be in receipt of a salary for the time spent with an organisation however reasonable travel costs and expenses can be paid for students from low income backgrounds.

Terms and Conditions:

Please note this is a stage two pilot following from the success of the scheme run for the first time in 2016-17. We cannot guarantee that every application will result in a work shadowing opportunity. Student/Host matches will be made on the basis of the preferences expressed in the application form and on the strength of the application answers. Where the scheme is over-subscribed priority will be given to students that meet the College’s Widening Participation criteria. If you are unsuccessful in the first round (Spring), you will be eligible to re-apply for a place in the second round (Summer).

 Please contact us if you have any questions about Work Shadowing