Job Shadowing for PhD candidates & postdocs

for early-career researchers
prepare for next career steps

for employers
connect with high potentials

To be launched early 2023

WHAT do we mean by job shadowing?

 By job shadowing we mean informal, experiential learning on the work floor, organised for the benefit of mature PhD candidates ( ≥ 3rd year of PhD trajectory) and postdocs engaging in career exploration. Through in-person, fly-on-the-wall observation, they collect during 1 or 2 days important information about a professional field of interest. The first-hand insights about the realities of working within a particular industry and position help PhD candidates and postdocs make informed career choices.

Job shadowing involves – amongst others:

  • observing, and networking with, experienced professionals
  • conducting informal interviews to obtain information and advice
  • sitting in on staff meetings and/or staff trainings
  • taking a tour of the company premises

Job shadowing provides a deeper, behind-the-scenes understanding of the inner workings of a specific industry / profession.

WHY engage in job shadowing?  

PhD candidates and postdocs who engage in job shadowing gain insight into the work routine of a professional, his/her role(s) and responsibilities. Job shadowing provides a better (and nuanced) understanding of the skills and competencies needed to succeed and thrive in a particular job. In short, it allows to ‘test-drive’ a career.

 Job shadowing gives PhD candidates and postdocs an opportunity to:

  • explore a career field and experience a typical day/couple of days on the job – no strings attached
  • learn how to present and apply their expertise through discussions with professionals
  • assess their “fit” with a particular position or organization
  • broaden their professional network
  • add value to their CV

HOW to apply?

Job shadowing opportunities offered by different companies and organisations will be advertised on the VLIR website.

The facilitators will do their utmost to provide an extensive and varied offer for PhD candidates and postdocs of the 5 Flemish universities. There is, however, no guarantee of placement.

Applications are accepted in April (deadline to be announced) for job shadowing positions to be taken up in the course of June. The Flemish universities will organise a half-day preparatory training as well as a structured debrief for all participants.

Eligibility requirements

Job shadowing is open to mature PhD candidates ( ≥ 3rd year in of PhD trajectory) and postdocs. For some positions extra admissibility requirements such as bi-lingual skills, a working knowledge of design software, or specific lab techniques, etc. may be stipulated. If the requirements cannot be met, do not submit an application.

Before applying, PhD candidates and postdocs should make sure their schedule allows commitment to the amount of time required to take up job shadowing. They are moreover responsible for arranging their own transportation to the company or organization offering the job shadowing opportunity, and covering any expenses made. Job shadowing is unpaid.

Also, be aware that taking up a job shadowing opportunity requires the signed approval of your supervisor.

Application process

Applying for a job shadowing position is similar to applying for a job. When a field of interest has been identified and all requirements are met, the provider of the job shadowing opportunity needs to be convinced that the person applying is the best candidate.


Please complete this form to apply for participation, and have it signed by your supervisor.