Work-Based Learning - Job Shadowing Activity Guide

  • Job Shadowing Fact Sheet
  • Coordinator Checklist
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Job Shadowing Fact Sheet

What Is Job Shadowing?

Job Shadowing is a structured Career Exploration activity in which a student is paired with and observes the workday of a business partner, interacts with his or her clients or customers and attends meetings and other appointments with the person they are shadowing.


Designed to help students explore a field of interest while developing research skills and building occupational knowledge, job shadowing is conducted at the workplace and occurs over most of the workday.


Virtual Note: Job shadowing does not lend itself to virtual activities.

Job Shadowing is designed to:

  • Promote exploration of a field of interest.
  • Provide an up-close look at a particular occupation, company and industry and the career path to that occupation.
  • Help students make the connection between school and the workplace.
  • Inform career planning.

Job Shadowing is structured to:

  • Allow students to listen, receive information and ask questions.
  • Enable students to begin identifying areas of career interest.
  • Build knowledge about the education and training needed for a particular job, career path and entry into the industry.
  • Allow students to practice and demonstrate key work-readiness skills such as communication and appropriate workplace behavior.

Job Shadowing is supported by:

  • Classroom preparation, including research on the occupation, its industry and the participating company.
  • Employer orientation and support.
  • Opportunities to reflect upon the experience verbally and in writing.

Job Shadowing is connected to:

  • Individual career development/training plans.
  • Future work-based learning activities.
  • The student’s next steps.

Go Deeper:

  • Arrange for a group of students to shadow different employees at the same time at the same company. Start the day with a Workplace Tour.
  • Rotational Job Shadowing: Arrange for a student to shadow a number of different people in the same company over time, rotating through a range of departments with different levels of employees in a series of Job Shadows.

Job shadowing is one activity in the continuum of authentic work-based experiences provided to all students engaged in career-related programs or course of study in New York City Public Schools.

Job Shadowing Activities are recognized as an “Accepted and Valid WBL ACTIVITY” by NYSED and the New York City Public Schools for specific credit purposes.

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Quick tips for Work-Based Learning Coordinators* to ensure a successful Job Shadowing program


  • Identify all interested teachers and help them plan for the job shadowing activity. Share the Teacher Tip Sheet.
  • Effectively match students with job shadow hosts, based on their career interests and personal factors.
  • Collect any required forms.
  • Have teachers help create learning objectives and work with students to prepare for the day.
  • Confirm scheduling and transportation arrangements for the student(s). Check school policies regarding transportation and liability, and ask about workers’ compensation insurance.
  • Give employer information about the participating student(s) and make sure plans have been made to receive them. Ask about dress requirements.
  • Determine if host site requires visitors to sign visitor confidentiality and/or non-disclosure agreement.
  • Provide Employer Tip Sheet and other support materials so the company can plan the most learning-rich experiences possible.
  • Share this toolkit’s Top Ten Employability Skills with the employer.


  • Make sure students receive instruction in workplace safety, if needed. Have the employer include a safety talk at start of day and highlight potential hazards.
  • Have students share the day on social media if company allows.
  • Arrange for students to visit different departments and observe employees with different levels of responsibility in the company.


  • Document the job shadow. Review feedback from hosts and teachers and summarize results (Use the WBL Activity Evaluation from this toolkit). Make recommendations for improvements.
  • Help students update their Employability Skills Profile and think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Work with teachers to coordinate activities to connect the job shadow to the classroom.
  • Send thank-you notes to host employers.
  • Share pictures from the job shadow with the companies for their websites or newsletters. Encourage students to share photos on social media. (Ensure you have signed releases for all photos.)
  • Place a story about the job shadow in the local newspaper or on the school website.

Virtual Note

Job shadowing does not lend itself to virtual activities.

*In New York State, this includes certified work-based learning coordinators and others who facilitate, arrange and support work-based learning activities for students.

Sample Timeline

  • Beginning of the School Year: Identify interested teachers and students. Brainstorm business partners who could participate.
  • Two months in advance: Develop a schedule with business partners. Secure available dates, times and locations.
  • One month in advance: Confirm participation of employer hosts. Have students research the occupation and industry or company.
  • One week in advance: Send hosts information about the student. Make sure logistics for the day have been handled.
  • Day of the Job Shadow: Make sure students receive safety instruction, if required.
  • After the Job Shadow: Send thank-you notes to all host employers and ensure student reflection activities take place.

Tips for Success

  • Engage in proper planning and preparation.
  • Address safety, legal and logistical details.
  • Communicate with all parties.
  • Maximize learning potential.
  • Focus on building awareness.
  • Connect to the classroom.
  • Provide support for students and supervisors.
  • Promote student reflection.