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Cougar Job Shadow Host Guide

Cougar Job Shadow Host Guide


Program Overview:

The purpose of the Cougar Job Shadow Program is to provide students an opportunity to explore careers firsthand.  Students will be paired with a professional employed in an occupational field that interests them during an experience lasting at a minimum of 2 hours to an entire day.  Students will gain valuable knowledge about the profession, as well as your organization’s culture and operations. 


Job Shadow Host Benefits:

  1. Share insights that will enable students to better understand the skills and qualifications needed to succeed in your field.
  2. Build your organization’s brand on CSUSM’s campus.
  3. Develop a working relationship with the CSUSM Career Center.
  4. Give back and contribute to your profession.
  5. Identify potential students for internship opportunities, if offered by your organization.


Host provides/Student Goals and Learning Outcomes:

  1. Observe what a typical day looks like for the host.
  2. Learn about the host’s professional and educational background.
  3. Discuss trends and receive information and advice regarding the profession.
  4. Enhance academic experience by seeing real world applications of classroom knowledge.
  5. Develop insight into the work environment and organizational mission through onsite presence/participation, including possible tour.
  6. Practice networking skills, and expand existing network.
  7. Gain comfort conducting oneself professionally while navigating (or within) a new work environment.
  8. Integrate and apply insights developed through job shadowing to future career decisions.


What the Cougar Job Shadow Program is Not:

  1. An internship – The job shadow lasts anywhere from 2 hours to an entire day, and is a commitment for both student and host, not an extended internship. However, it could serve as a pre-internship experience if your organization offers such opportunities.
  2. A job interview – Students are informed that the job shadow offers no expectations of employment, but is established as a student learning opportunity.
  3. A job – Students will not be performing work as part of the job shadowing experience (copying, filing, etc). 



  • Open application period for job shadow hosts: through Monday, October 23, 2017.
  • Open application period for students: Thursday, October 19, 2017 – Friday, November 17, 2017.
  • Organizations and students notified of matches by CSUSM staff: Friday, December 1, 2017.


Timeline (cont):

  • Students will contact Host to confirm job shadow details: Monday, December 4 – Friday, December 8, 2017.
  • Job Shadow Week: Tuesday, January 16, 2018 – Friday, January 19, 2018.


You can choose to host students from one to four days.  Each job shadow experience is offered at a minimum of 2 hours per day to a maximum of an entire day.  You may choose to host between 1-5 students during any shadow experience.


Student Assignment Process:

Students will be assigned to an organization based on student preferences. In some cases, it may not be feasible to ensure a match.


Host Responsibilities and Expectations:

Thank you for your interest in hosting student(s).  Although you have the opportunity to structure the job shadow experience as you best see fit, we would like to provide some tips that may help facilitate a mutually beneficial experience for hosts and students.

  1. Determine the number of students you would like to host, as well as your preferred date selection. (You may wish to consider a diversity of age range and experience, as well as any alumni connections when selecting specific hosts.)
  2. Check with your organization on visit clearance and other policies, and ensure that all supervisors are aware of your organization’s participation in the program.
  3. When students reach out to your organization to confirm match details, please provide them with information that will promote a smooth shadow experience:
  4. Dress code and organizational office etiquette, directions and parking, meeting location
  5. Agenda/schedule provided to student before or at the beginning of the shadow day
  6. Any resources that you deem helpful, such as websites, organization mission
  7. We recommend reviewing the student’s application (resume and brief essay), and discussing the student’s relevant professional interests prior to shadowing.
  8. Please note: Hosts are not required to incur any expenses related to transportation, parking, or meals. However, if you would like to cover any expenses on the student’s behalf, it is open to your discretion and may be provided directly to the student.



Activities and agendas are up to the discretion of the host organization, however Career Center staff members are happy to discuss or provide suggestions.  Considerations include the level of staff involvement and structure desired.  Below is a list of potential job shadow activities and sample agendas with some ideas on structuring.


Sample Activities for Students:

  • Hear an overview of the industry and your organization.
  • Meet with Human Resources to learn more about the hiring process and required qualifications for different positions.

Sample Activities for Students (cont):

  • Tour the organization.
  • Meet with key department heads or leadership team.
  • Conduct informational interviews or shadow staff members in occupation of interest to student.
  • Attend a panel or network with new hires or current interns.
  • Attend a presentation or client meeting.
  • Gain specific resources relevant to the industry.


Sample 2-hour Agenda: 

9:00-9:30: Welcome, introduction and brief tour of organization

9:30-10:00: Informational Interview

10:00-10:45: Shadow host

10:45-11:00: Wrap up and any questions


Sample Half Day Agenda: 

8:00-8:30: Welcome, introduction, and organization overview

8:30-9:00: Meet with Human Resources to discuss roles within organization

9:00-9:30: Tour organization

9:30-10:00: Informational Interview

10:00-11:00: Shadow host

11:00-11:30: Informational interview or employee panel

11:30-12:00: Wrap up and any questions


Sample Full Day Agenda:

8:00-8:30: Welcome, introduction, and organization overview

8:30-9:30: Meet with Human Resources to discuss roles within organization and critique student’s resume

9:30-10:15: Tour organization

10:15-10:30: Break

10:30-12:00: Shadow host or attend a meeting

12:00-12:30: Informational interview with department head or member of leadership team

12:30-1:30: Break for lunch

1:30-3:00: Shadow a different employee, observe presentation, or attend a meeting

3:00-3:30: Employee panel discussion

3:30-4:00: Meet with Human Resources to discuss the day and wrap-up


Contact Information:

If you have any questions, please contact Heather Starr:, 760-750-4897. Thank you!