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A Day in the Life

Our popular job shadowing program matches hundreds of students with alumni and parent volunteers for an introduction to professional life and career success.
Two students and an alumnus in lab coats in front of an Abbvie sign.


The application for the 2018–2019 school year has now closed.
A Day in the Life allows first-year and sophomore students to explore careers in their field of interest by shadowing a professional for one day over winter break. By connecting with a Colgate sponsor, you will gain a first-hand look at careers and build your professional network.

Job shadowing can help students to:
  • Explore curiosity about a certain career.
  • Experience a professional environment from the inside.
  • Learn the vocabulary of an industry.
  • Connect with professionals in the field.
  • Figure out whether or not an industry, organization, or professional role is a good personal fit.
How do I apply?
The 2018 application will be available in October.

How am I matched with an alumni/parent sponsor?
You will be matched with a sponsor who is most likely to give you a meaningful, exploratory career experience. The application will require you to explain your motivations for participating in the program and indicate which industries and organizational characteristics are most appealing to you.

You will be asked to indicate:
  • Geographic regions to which you can travel.
  • Industries/job functions of interest.
  • Appealing organizational and sponsor characteristics (type and size/scope of organization, sponsor’s career stage, etc.).
You will also be asked a series of short answer questions in which you may elaborate on your past experiences, potential career interests, and your willingness and enthusiasm for career exploration.

Based on your responses and the information provided by sponsors (including their geographic and scheduling availability), Career Services will match students and sponsors to the best of our ability. A Day in the Life is an exploratory program, and we ask that you be open, willing, and excited for any potential sponsor match. Please only submit an application if you are ready for this challenge!
When will I receive my sponsor match?
All A Day in the Life participants are required to attend one of the mandatory match sessions on November 12, 13, and 14. A virtual match session will be offered to students who are studying off campus. 

Your match will be provided after Thanksgiving Break. Career Services will send your sponsor's employment and contact information directly to you via e-mail, and introduce you virtually to your host.
I've connected with my host. How do I confirm my visit?
Please let us know when your shadow will take place using the A Day in the Life visit confirmation form.
What will be expected of me if I participate in the program?
As a student participant, it will be your responsibility to:
  • Attend a mandatory match session to learn more about the selection process and how to maximize your time with your sponsor. Virtual information sessions will be offered to students who are studying off campus.
  • Contact your sponsor before winter break to arrange an agreeable shadow date.
  • Research the organization and career field of your sponsor before the shadow day. Students are encouraged to visit the Center for Career Services, make an appointment with a career counselor by calling 315-228-7380, or visit colgate.edu/careerservices for guidance.
  • Arrange and pay for your own transportation to your shadow location.
  • Show up to your visit! By applying, you're committing to participating in the program. You're obligated to follow through.
  • Arrive at your shadow location on time and appropriately dressed.
  • Thank your sponsor in a handwritten note after your shadow day.


The application for the 2018–2019 school year has now closed.

Who is eligible to participate?
We are seeking Colgate alumni and parent sponsors to host first- or second-year students. Preference will be given to those sponsors who work outside of their homes between the alumni class years of 1975 and 2014.
How are students and sponsors matched?
The enrollment process will require that you indicate your geographic region, winter break availability, industry/job function, as well as few characteristics about your organization and the professional skills relevant to your work. Students will also be asked to indicate their career interests in these categories and will then be matched with sponsors who can most likely give them a meaningful exploratory experience.

On the registration form, you will also have the option to indicate if you'd like to host multiple students.

Although we make every effort to connect students with sponsors, please be advised that we do not always have a student participant to match every sponsor.
When will I receive information about my student match?
You will be notified of your matching status in mid to late November and, if a match is made, you will be provided with information about the student you will be hosting.
What are my responsibilities as a shadow host?
In agreeing to host a student for A Day in the Life, you are expected to provide a one-day job shadow experience for your student. You will not be required to provide transportation, food, compensation, or any overnight accommodation for students, but may do so if you choose.

Create a comprehensive schedule for your student shadow to allow for maximum exposure to what you do.  You might coordinate for your student to observe what you do, attend meetings, meet with your colleagues in other departments, become familiar with specific software you use on a regular basis, work on projects, talk with HR about the hiring process/timeline, meet with clients, attend site visits, tour facilities, ask you questions, and more! 

Most shadows take place on a single day during winter break, but you may also modify the experience by having a student shadow for more than one day or during spring break if that would better suit both your needs.

Student Testimonials

What did students take away from their participation in the A Day in the Life program?
  • “I got a much better sense of what life after Colgate for a Geography major looks like. It was quite helpful and assuaged my nerves about what my next step might be.”
  • “I learned that different organizations have very different work cultures, and in choosing a job or internship it's important to know what culture fits the individual best.”
  • “I learned a lot more about the tech industry as a whole and was given a lot of great advice that will be useful when I go for job and internship interviews.”
  • “I was exposed to a line of work that I did not even know existed.” 
  • “I learned what work goes into organizing and carrying out research projects as well as getting the work published. My sponsor also gave me some advice on building a strong resume and networking for a research career.” 
  • “I learned a lot about my own interests as well as what a career in medicine entails. I was able to see the health care career from many different angles. It showed me that I am capable of dealing with circumstances that I was not aware/sure that I could deal with.”
  • “I went into the day a little skeptical about whether I even wanted to go into the medical field and was not expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. However, my sponsor was very friendly and opened my eyes to a field I might not have considered otherwise. I am very grateful that Colgate has given me an opportunity through the A Day in the Life program.”
  • “I was unsure about whether my match applied to anything I wanted to do, since my sponsor had been a political science major and I want to major in psychology or philosophy, but I am glad we were paired together. I think she will be a great connection for me to have, and I did learn a lot about finding your own path from my sponsor and her coworkers. They suggested I keep an open mind and ‘never say never.’ These are things I will take with me when I leave Colgate.”


Chelsea Lehmann
Assistant Director, Alumni Engagement
Center for Career Services
Phone: 315-228-6683
Laura Hartpence
Assistant Director, Early Engagement and Assessment
Center for Career Services
Phone: 315-228-6770