Work-Based Learning - Job Shadowing Activity Guide

  • Job Shadowing Fact Sheet
  • Coordinator Checklist
  • Required Documents
  • Implementation Tools
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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.


Remote Note: Job shadowing does not lend itself to remote or 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 schools.

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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.

Remote Note

Job shadowing does not lend itself to remote or 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.