Published: March 18, 2020 By
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With the goal of increasing experiential learning opportunities for students, Leeds established a Shadow Days program in 2017. Starting with offerings in the Denver metro area, students could request to explore a specific industry area and then be matched with an employer volunteer willing to host them for a full or half day to gain an insider’s perspective. With much success, the program has since expanded beyond Colorado and become an integral part on a few of the Leeds Career Treks. Through incorporating Leeds Shadow Days in the San Francisco and New York treks, it has provided an opportunity for students to experience a day in the life in the industry of their choosing, as well as envision a career in a city they may be considering moving to post-graduation. One student who recently participated on the San Francisco Career Trek said, “I really enjoyed the shadow day, I actually think that it was my favorite part of the trip. I found it the most valuable because it felt like we had an opportunity to really get to know the other person and how they got to this point in their career. My strongest connections were made through it and I got to learn so much.” Not only do Leeds Shadow Days provide valuable insight, but they also help students connect with individuals that can support their career journey in the years to come.

The way Leeds coordinates its Shadow Days program is by reaching out to alumni and employer partners requesting anyone willing to volunteer their time to host students. From there, a form is sent to students encouraging them to apply and share a bit about what they hope to gain from the experience and any specifics on the type of host they’d like to be paired with. If it’s clear they are eager to participate and willing to commit to the experience, students are then matched with an employer host who then coordinates with them regarding expectations and how to prepare. By requesting feedback from student participants, as well as reaching out to employer hosts post Shadow Day, it creates a sustainable model that encourages future promotion and participation from both stakeholders.

As one Denver Shadow Day student participant shared, “My shadow day was absolutely awesome. I don’t know if I’ve ever learned so much in one day. Seriously it was probably the best learning experience I’ve ever had.” With the ability to simultaneously help students build their network and explore a career area of interest, Leeds Shadow Days provide immense utility. By being able to showcase this to potential volunteers, as well as students considering applying, it helps them gain insight into what to expect, as well as best promote the value in the program. Similarly, it exemplifies how and why an experiential learning opportunity like Leeds Shadow Days can supplement a student’s learning experience.

For any questions on how you can get involved or build a program like this at your school, please email

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