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 meets multiple times for a total of between 45 and 90 hours. It's usually best to complete a job shadow before applying for an internship. 

Internships are much more in-depth due to their longer duration. You'll receive between 45 and 90 hours of planned career experience, and develop important skills through intern career development meetings.
Internships are available year-round, beginning with the summer after sophomore year and ending the spring of senior year. The online application process requires recommendations, school approval and an interview.  Not all students who apply will receive an internship placement. Speak with your school counselor if you are interested in an internship.

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 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 Group Job Shadow. The Group Job Shadow Opportunities allow you to explore several careers in one job shadow whereas the Career 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 and January.

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.

Once your application has been approved, watch for emails from WLC. Advise your parents to be on the lookout for an email from Workplace Learning Connection as well. If you don't receive a communication, make sure to check your spam folder.  

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.

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 will 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!
Information will also 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 who will be coordinating your job shadow in early October.  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.

If school is canceled due to bad weather, the job shadow is canceled. We will contact you about rescheduling. If school is delayed, please use discretion on whether travel is advised, and notify your Workplace Learning Connection coordinator and the business host if you cannot attend.

If you have a conflict and cannot attend your Job Shadow, you must call Workplace Learning Connection to cancel. It is the responsibility of the student to ask to be rescheduled. A second placement depends on timing and host availability. There is no guarantee a job shadow can be rescheduled.

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.