In a time when virtual interactions are the norm, virtual job shadowing can be a great way to further your career exploration. If you’re interested in engaging in a hands-on learning opportunity to gain insight into a day in the life of a job of interest, take a look at these resources to help you prepare and engage in a virtual job shadowing opportunity.

What is virtual job shadowing?

Virtual job shadowing is an opportunity for you to “shadow,” or observe, someone in their job. Through this observation, you’ll learn about the day-to-day responsibilities of the role and the culture of the organization.

No two virtual job shadowing experiences are alike. They will vary by organization and by your learning goals. They can also vary in time, ranging from as little as an hour to a regular commitment.

Why should I consider virtual job shadowing for career exploration?

Virtual job shadowing can help you:

  • Narrow down career options
  • Make more informed decisions
  • Build self-knowledge and information about career options
  • Put yourself in the shoes of the employer 

How can I create a virtual job shadowing opportunity?

  • Connect with Columbia alumni to seek job shadowing opportunities at companies of particular interest.
  • Work with a CCE career counselor to draft an outreach note to a company that you’re interested in shadowing.
  • Use Forage to find companies that already offer hands-on virtual shadowing experiences and complete a posted program.

Virtual Job Shadowing Resources to Explore

Before you engage in a virtual job shadowing experience, consider these resources to help you learn more about the specific role you’re looking to explore further.

O*Net

Before you engage in a virtual job shadowing opportunity, it’s important to do some preliminary research. By surveying the opportunities within an industry as well as the titles of positions, you’ll be more informed when reaching out to a particular employee to shadow.

To support you in your information gathering, we recommend O*Net, a resource developed by the U.S. Department of Labor.

O*Net can help you further understand what realities lie behind a simple job title. With this resource, you can do a deep dive into the position context, education required, and skills and knowledge needed to be successful. You’ll also learn about the work activities associated with a particular role.

By allowing you to search by job zone, job family, industry, career cluster, and more, O*Net offers you many possible ways to explore and learn how different roles fit together.

Vault

Vault’s Day in the Life feature allow you to read examples of a “typical day” on the job for roles in 18 different industries, from accounting to STEM fields.

This feature can help you understand both entry-level jobs and positions you might aspire to later on—whether the role of a policy analyst at a nonprofit advocacy group or senior partner at a management consulting firm. By further understanding the daily routine of these jobs, you can assess whether you could envision doing them as part of your own career journey.

After using this feature, you might have ideas of specific jobs you’d like to learn more about through informational interviewing or other job shadowing opportunities.

Forage: Hands-On Virtual Job Shadowing Tool

This free resource serves as a hands-on tool for you to take your job shadowing to the next level.

Forage offers virtual experience programs where you can complete a virtual project modeled on real-world job responsibilities at participating organizations, including BCG, Deloitte, Accenture, and JP Morgan Chase. These hands-on programs can help you enhance your self-knowledge and explore roles and responsibilities you’re curious about.

You can earn a certificate of completion for each completed program and add the experience to your resume as an extracurricular activity.