The Center for Life Beyond Reed

Finding a Job Shadow

A job shadow is a chance to observe and follow a Reedie (or Reedie parent) so that you can explore what happens in a field that you are interested in. If you didn't find or get a shadow opportunity in the field, location, or timing that worked for you, please don't despair: you can cast your own shadow. Here's how in five steps.

1. Determine what interests you

What's your area of interest? What excites you? If you need ideas, start with our Communities of Purpose.

2. Search alumni and networks

Search the alumni directory, check out Griffin Door, and talk with our staff. Some alumni don't provide contact info in IRIS so look them up in LinkedIn and/or focus on people with email addresses. Ask your family about connections they have in fields and locations you are interested in. Pay attention to location—you will have to provide your own housing and transportation. Once you find someone that seems interesting, it's time to reach out via email, LinkedIn message, or on Switchboard.

3. Make an ask

Succinctly explain in a brief email why you've contacted them, who you are, and how you hope they might help you. You're asking them to provide an opportunity to shadow them for a short time, so review our FAQ on Winter Shadows here. Look them up on LinkedIn as well. You might find more current information than what's in IRIS. Yes or no questions are easy to say no to, so try to use suggestions instead. Here's an example of an ask:

Dear [use Ms. Mr. or Dr. plus last name], 

I researched your contact information in IRIS, Reed's alumni directory. I'm a junior chemistry major and I'm looking for an opportunity to shadow an alumni in my field of interest this [ex. summer, winter, January, etc]. Your directory profile says that you're working as a _____ at _____. 

Each year, Reed offers a program of Shadows during our academic break [ex. summer, winter, January, etc]. This year, I am doing my search independently based on my need to be located in [NY, LA, etc] and my interest in [research, finance, publishing, whatever].

I would be grateful if you would consider allowing me to spend a few (1-3) days shadowing you at your work place so that I can better understand the field and gain insights and advice about how to approach my career in this area. The date range is [Jan 1 - 20, or whatever].

If you are open to a conversation with me, I would like to discuss this at your convenience. Please let me know what day/time works best for you.

Thank you,

Your name and year [ex. Jo Bane '17]

4. Promptly follow up and prepare travel plans

People want to help students, and you may not get a response the first time due to their travel/work/life schedule. Shoot them another note in five days. If they still don't respond, that's okay—just ask more people. When you do hear back from someone, great! Make sure to respond promptly. Keep in mind that you've asked only for the opportunity to shadow them. Transportation and housing will be up to you to provide. Sometimes people offer additional help, but never expect it. If you need to find somewhere to stay, try searching the alumni directory after checking the "local hosts" box. That check box indicates people who are willing to help with housing in some way.

5. Success! Tell us about your shadow

If you secure a shadow, please send us a note and let us know with whom you're shadowing so that we can note that person's volunteer service and so that someone else in the future may know that the person offered a shadow. If you have questions or concerns, let us know. Good luck!

Interested in Reed's Winter Shadows program? Check out how you can apply for a shadow over winter break!

NOTE: Please do not apply to a shadow more than one time. There is no added value in doing so. Multiple applications for the same opportunity make the matching process substantially more complicated, thus we much appreciate only one application per shadow. Thank you.

Learn more about Winter Shadows

Express Advising and Drop-In Hours 

Express Advising and Drop-In Hours are on hiatus for the summer and will return for fall semester. CLBR is open all summer and you can schedule appointments with an advisor.


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