Work shadowing guidance

University of Sussex First-Generation Scholars

Thank you for your interest in the University's work-shadowing programme.

By taking on a student through our First-Generation Scholars Scheme, you can raise awareness of your organisation and meet talented students who could be potential future employees.

You also help to support our work to ‘level the playing field’ for those from less advantaged backgrounds, so your participation can be seen as part of your positive involvement in enhancing social mobility.


Taking part in the work-shadowing programme means hosting a current foundation or first-year First-Generation Scholar from the University of Sussex at your workplace.

The work-shadowing opportunity should last for two days, and take place at a time agreed by you and the student, any time before 31 July 2020.

The University of Sussex pays reasonable travel expenses directly to the students so there is no financial obligation for your organisation.

The process

  • Your opportunity will be advertised internally to eligible students who can access support from the Careers and Employability Centre to help with creating a CV and cover letter
  • Students will apply directly to you via an online form
  • Application process:
    • Assess applications as and when they arrive
    • You should contact suitable candidates directly to arrange a mutually convenient two-day period. We will stop advertising your opportunity once you have found a suitable student
    • You should inform any candidates who have not been successful with their application
  • The student will also have read any supplementary information that you have provided about your job and/or organisation. They will have been encouraged to research further and should have a genuine interest in you and your work. On making contact, your successful student should check directions, dress code and other practical details with you.

Preparation for work shadowing

You are encouraged to provide your shadow with basic company information, ready for them to read through on their arrival at your workplace.

Once the shadowing has started, the responsibility for the reasonable safety of your shadow(s) will normally be regarded as yours or, where applicable, your employer’s. You may wish to check with your organisation’s insurers that your ordinary Third Party and/or Employers’ Liability policy covers you for your shadow’s likely activities.

You should provide your shadow with a brief but appropriate site induction – covering health & safety, what to do in an emergency and specific site rules.

Work-shadowing activities

Work shadowing is an opportunity for your shadow to observe you at work. It helps if you spend one-to-one time with them explaining what you are doing and why. Your shadow should be encouraged to ask questions, but they should also be prepared to pick up as much as possible through observation.

Your shadow will be identifying the skills, and some of the necessary competencies, involved in your work. This will help them to reach informed decisions when considering their own careers.

You may feel it necessary to exclude your shadow at some points - for example, if personal or confidential matters are being raised in your work or you may feel your shadow would benefit by talking to colleagues.

You may consider taking your shadow with you on your breaks, to give a full perspective of working life, however, this is not necessary.

Work shadowing does not involve giving students a job of their own to do. However, if they display initiative then it is appropriate to give them some basic, supervised tasks.

Work shadowing outcomes for you

We hope that you enjoy the experience of being shadowed and gain something from it.

Previous participants have said that it was a useful experience in that it gave them a chance to review their own work practice and career development.

We will send a short evaluation form to you requesting feedback on your experience. Such feedback is invaluable and is used to continually improve and develop the Work-shadowing programme.

Without a doubt, shadowing raises the profile of the employing organisation and the associated career area. We are confident that it creates better informed and more realistic applicants.

Work shadowing outcomes for the students

Work shadowing helps students to clarify their career goals and strengthen their confidence for future job searches. They gain a better understanding of the relationship between the skills they are developing on their course, their interests and activities, and future career.

Shadows come back from their experience better prepared for their transition from study to work through having a greater awareness of workplace tasks, skills and culture.

Further information

If you have any questions about this process or have any difficulties whilst participating in this programme, please contact