Job Shadow FAQs for Students

Job shadows are a free opportunity for you to explore a career of your choice. Shadowing means you'll leave school for a few hours on one day during the school year to experience the career you choose.

If you're a high school sophomore, junior, or senior in in Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Jones, Linn, and Washington counties, you're eligible to apply for job shadows through Kirkwood.

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Frequently Asked Questions

  • You can explore your likes and dislikes and satisfy your curiosity about the career of your choice.
  • Discover first-hand what a job is really like, get advice and ask questions to find out the skills, training, and/or education needed.  This can save you time and money after high school!
  • Get connected to local career professionals who might help you get a job someday.
  • Get ahead of the game - find out what you can be doing now to prepare for this career.
  • Venture out of your school and have fun!

A job shadow is a one-time, 2-6 hour experience, whereas an internship is a more in-depth experience with a local business. It is best to complete a job shadow before applying for an internship. 

Internships are much more in-depth due to their longer duration and are a great way for high school students to get experience, gain new skills, and learn more about different jobs and career fields. Talk to your high school counselor to determine if an internship is right for you. Students in grades 11 and 12 in Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Johnson, Linn, and Washington Counties are eligible to apply. Not all students who apply will receive an internship placement.

High school juniors and seniors who participate in the internship program earn dual credit through Kirkwood Community College and their local high school. They experience career exploration onsite with a business/organization while learning professional development with WLC. Students need access to a device when participating in a WLC internship.

Prior to Your Job Shadow

Watch for an email and text from Workplace Learning Connection! This is our primary means of communication with you. Check your spam/junk mail folder. 

As Soon As You Receive Your Job Shadow Placement via email

  • It is important that you confirm your attendance using the green confirmation button in the placement email after you have looked at your calendar and determined that you have transportation to and from your job shadow.

  • Call our office if you absolutely cannot attend. If you can not attend, it is important to let us know. Use the red cancel button in the job shadow placement email or call our office. The number is listed on your confirmation email. We can’t guarantee it will be possible to reschedule but if you ask at the time you call to cancel, we will do our best. 

  • Look over your placement email carefully for special instructions, links, or forms and complete any extra paperwork or forms right away. 

  • Some job shadows will require additional paperwork. Watch for an envelope in the postal mail that might include additional paperwork that you need to complete before your Job Shadow and bring with you. Call our office if you do not get it in 4-5 days after your confirmation email. 

Before your Job Shadow: 

  • Plan to dress appropriately. The dress code will be listed in the ‘Special Instructions’ portion of your Job Shadow confirmation. Look up some examples of the dress code online for guidance. 

o You DO NOT need to shop especially for this day. Do the best you can with what you have. 

o Dress conservatively, especially job shadows in the healthcare professions.

  • Research the company so that you’re prepared when you arrive. Check out the company’s website to learn basic facts such as what work they do, how many people they employ, and when they were founded. 

  • Prepare some questions you’d like to ask while shadowing. These questions can be about the job itself, the career field, or advice you’re interested in getting. 

  • Know how to get to the location and allow extra time to ensure you are not late. 

During Your Job Shadow: 

  • Be on time. Be respectful of your business host’s time by not being too early, or worse yet, being late. About 5-10 minutes early is perfect. 

  • Bring a notepad so you can take down notes and things you learn. 

  • Shake hands and introduce yourself to every person you meet. 

  • Keep your phone off and out of sight during the job shadow. 

  • Be enthusiastic and participate in each activity suggested. 

  • Your business host WILL remember you long after your job shadow is complete. This is a great opportunity to make a good impression so if you want to get into the profession in a few years, the door is already open. 

  • Remember to be respectful of people's time. While most people you meet will be happy to talk with you, remember that you are at someone's workplace and they need to work as well, so try not to take up too much of any one person's time. The work of the business needs to come first. 

After Your Job Shadow: 

  • Send thank-you notes to the person or people you shadowed, and mention a few things you learned. 

  • Complete the WLC Survey that you receive via email a couple days after your Job Shadow. 

  • Write up a few sentences on your job shadow experience for your own personal use. Describe what you did, what you enjoyed, what you didn’t enjoy, and what you learned. This will be useful information to have in the future when you don’t remember the details of your job shadow as clearly. 

Store contact information and business cards in a safe place so you can reference them if you need to contact the company again for more information, ask follow-up questions, or if you end up applying for a job there.

Your job shadow host is excited to meet you and share their career with you! They will do their best to put you at ease and make you feel welcome. This could be your host’s first job shadow experience as well.

Generally speaking, there will be at least one other student, either from your school or from another high school, attending the job shadow with you. Depending on the job shadow, there might be several students attending.

You will have an opportunity to ask questions so take advantage and come prepared with a list of things you’d like to know.

There are a variety of ways to learn about a career which might include observing, going on a tour, listening to a presentation, and in some cases hands-on activities.  Each job shadow is different, so it would be best to plan on listening and asking questions.

You should choose a career that you are interested in learning more about. There are opportunities for nearly every career field and level of education available in the region. Visit our Job Shadow Page for application dates and to see all of the job shadow options available. The job shadow portal opens in August, November, and January.

If you are unsure about which career to choose, meet with your school counselor or take a career assessment, such as this one provided by Career Coach.

If you haven't completed a job shadow before or are unsure of your desired career path, consider a Career Exploration Experience. The Career Exploration Experiences allow you to explore several careers in one job shadow whereas the Career Specific choices are specific to one career.

Check out our Job Shadow page to see application open and closing dates, opportunities available, and instructions on how to apply. The Job Shadow portal is open each August, November, and January.

After you have submitted your application, log in periodically and check your dashboard to make sure you have received parent/guardian approval. Your application is not considered complete until your parent/guardian and school contact have submitted their approval.

Advise your parents or guardians to be on the lookout for text and email messages from Workplace Learning Connection. If you don't receive communication, make sure to check your spam folder or contact our office. 

Once the parent or guardian approval has been submitted, the school must approve the application electronically as well for your application to be considered complete.

You will receive an email notification when all approvals are completed. Watch for additional email and text messages from WLC once the application portal closes for more information on what comes next. 

Generally speaking, transportation is NOT provided and must be arranged by the student.  If it is not possible for you to drive yourself or to arrange for someone such as a parent or guardian to take you, check with your school to see if transportation is available.

In most cases, you will receive a minimum of 2-week’s notice before the date of your job shadow to allow time for transportation arrangements to be made.

Due to the volume of job shadow applications received, you can be placed as soon as October and as late as May depending on job shadow host availability. Information will be sent anytime between October and May via email to you, your parent/guardian, and your school, in most cases at least two weeks before the job shadow is scheduled.  A text will be sent to alert you to check your email. Check your spam/junk mail folder!


In some cases, additional information may be sent via postal mail to you in a white envelope stamped with “Job Shadow Information” in red.


Note: On the job shadow application, indicate any conflicts (days/times/specific dates) that should be avoided when scheduling.


You will receive an email from the person coordinating your job shadow shortly after the job shadow application portal closes. Any questions you have about your job shadow can be directed to that person, as well as any new conflicts that have come up to avoid when scheduling.

Now that you have completed your job shadow, you may be trying to determine the next step in your career exploration journey. Check out this helpful infographic that outlines various opportunities you can explore as you continue to plan for your future beyond high school.