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Job Shadowing Activity Guide

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.

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 the workplace and what they’re learning in the classroom.
  • 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 the Los Angeles/Orange County Regional Consortium.


Coordinator Job Shadowing Checklist

Quick tips for those charged with arranging and supporting work-based learning activities to ensure successful job shadows.

Before the Job Shadow ...

  • Identify all interested faculty members and help them plan for the job shadowing activity. Share the Faculty Tip Sheet.
  • Effectively match students with job shadow hosts, based on their career interests and personal factors.
  • Collect any required forms.
  • Have faculty members help create learning objectives and work with students to prepare for the day.
  • Confirm scheduling and transportation arrangements for the student(s). Check college 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 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.

During the Job Shadow ...

  • 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.

After the Job Shadow …

  • Document the job shadow. Review feedback from hosts and faculty and summarize results (Use the WBL Activity Evaluation from this toolkit). Make recommendations for improvements.
  • Help students update think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Work with faculty 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 college website.


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Sample Job Shadow Timeline

  • Beginning of the year: Identify interested faculty members 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.
  • During 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.

Student Job Shadowing Checklist

A job shadow is a great opportunity to learn about the world of work. You’ll have the opportunity to ask questions, practice professional behavior and become more comfortable communicating with professionals.

You will be observing someone in a job or industry you might be interested in pursuing in the future. Keep the following things in mind as you get ready for your Job Shadowing experience.

Before the Job Shadow ...

  • Turn in any required forms.
  • Think about your interests and determine the kind of job you’d like to explore or company you’d like to visit.
  • Once chosen, research your host company. Check out their website and learn as much as you can about the organization’s history, what they do and how it impacts your community
  • Meet with a faculty member or the coordinator to finalize a learning plan for the job shadow.

During the Job Shadow ...

  • Arrive at the workplace appropriately dressed and on time. Attend the orientation if one is offered.
  • Turn off your cellphone, except to take photos, if the company allows (ask first).
  • Develop some skill-specific learning outcomes with your job shadow host and work on them.
  • Comply with all health and safety regulations.
  • Be observant and ask appropriate questions.
  • Reflect on the connection between what you’re learning in the classroom and what goes on in the workplace.

After the Job Shadow ...

  • Reflect on the day. Talk to your classmates and faculty about the job shadow and whether you’re interested in pursuing a career in that industry.
  • Participate in classroom activities that help you think about the value of the job shadow.
  • Think about next steps in moving your career forward.
  • Send a follow-up email thanking the employer for his or her time. Ask if you can connect on LinkedIn. If you’re interested in working there, say so and ask for next steps.
  • Fill out any evaluation forms. Be honest. That will help make future job shadows more impactful.
  • Share your experience with your peers on social media. Perhaps a blog post about the job shadow?

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Are You Ready for Your Job Shadow?

Have you...

  • Turned in required forms?
  • Researched the host company?
  • Considered the best way to make a good impression on the employer?
  • Thought about how you’ll share your experience on social media?
  • Updated your resume?

Faculty Job Shadowing Tip Sheet

Note: If you’re coordinating a job shadowing activity, have a look at the Coordinator Job Shadowing Checklist.

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 the classroom and the workplace.
  • Inform career planning.

Before the Job Shadow ...

  • Review the Job Shadowing Fact Sheet and this tip sheet.
  • Assess how the day can support classroom activities and help meet curriculum goals.
  • Help the coordinator identify interested and qualified students and match them to the most appropriate hosts.
  • Collect any required permission forms.
  • Work with students to identify desired learning objectives.
  • Have students research the host company and its occupations.
  • Discuss behavioral expectations and workplace norms.
  • Provide the host employer with information about the participating student(s). Help the employer understand where students are in their development, their career aspirations, and how the employer can link the experience to the classroom.

During the Job Shadow ...

  • Make sure students learn about workplace safety, and reflect workplace norms.
  • Support employer hosts in effective interactions by developing strategies to “keep it real.”
  • If possible, encourage the host to have students observe and interact with employees who have different levels of responsibility in the company.
  • Make sure students are attentive, polite and engaged.

After the Job Shadow...

  • Thank the host employer and see if they have a suggestion for student follow-up activities.
  • Provide reflection activities for students and help them make the connection between what they’re learning and the workplace.
  • Help students update their resumes and think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Have students write thank-you notes to the employer partners.
  • Assess and document the impact and value of the job shadowing activity and utilize employer and student feedback to improve future job shadows. (Use the WBL Activity Evaluation from this toolkit).

Go Deeper

Make the job shadow part of a project and have students prepare and deliver a presentation to others at your school about the host company.

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The Classroom Connection: Preparation and Reflection

Before the Job Shadow …

Set students up for success by having them:

  • Research company and industry of host employers.
  • Discuss how the job shadow can help them meet learning objectives.

After the Job Shadow …

  • Spark student reflection with an activity.
  • Ask, “What new things did you learn about this job and industry?”.
  • Explore whether they want to find out more or further explore careers in the employer’s industry.

Employer Job Shadowing Tip Sheet

Thanks for agreeing to host a student for a job shadow. As you think about how to best prepare for the day, keep the following success factors in mind.

Before the Job Shadow...

  • Provide the Coordinator with website link(s) about your company, industry and profession to help the student prepare for the job shadow.
  • Find out what the student is currently focused on in the classroom so you can link the job shadow to the curriculum.
  • Ask the coordinator or a faculty member for tips on how best to interact with the student and let them know of any concerns you may have.
  • Let the student know where to go when they arrive at your workplace. If they need identification to enter, be sure to tell them that.

During the Job Shadow...

  • Give students instruction in workplace safety, if needed. Include a safety talk at start of day and highlight potential hazards.
  • Be sure the student shadowing you is engaged in a range of activities throughout the day. Try to choose activities that highlight the skills needed to do your job.
  • Ensure the student can’t inadvertently disrupt or damage your work.
  • Be ready to adjust the level of difficulty of any shared tasks depending on the student’s abilities.
  • Share the educational and career path you took to your current position.
  • Ask questions about what the student shadowing you is learning, and what his/her career aspirations are.
  • Talk about how subjects studied in the classroom (such as math and language arts) and good habits (such as punctuality and consistent attendance) are important skills in the workplace.

After the Job Shadow...

  • Provide feedback to the coordinator to improve future job shadows using the WBL Activity Evaluation.
  • If you’re willing to stay connected with the student, offer your email address or connect on LinkedIn.

Go Deeper

  • Share a blurb about the job shadow with photos on your company website or social media.
  • If the student shares a post on social media about the day, share it on your company page.
  • Consider other ways you might use the job shadow to promote your company’s visibility in the community.
  • Talk to the coordinator about being a classroom speaker, helping with curriculum, or participating in Career Days, Mock Interviews, or Internships.

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Suggested Talking Points

  • Describe your career journey.
  • Talk about any challenges or obstacles you overcame.
  • Discuss the need for perseverance, hard work and getting along well with others.
  • Manage expectations about the world of work.

Tips to share …

  • Avoid job hopping.
  • Build your network (talk about how to do that).
  • Be a continuous learner and stay abreast of industry changes.

Employer Job Shadowing Fact Sheet

In a job shadow, a student is paired with and observes the workday of an employee, 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.

Why are job shadows important for students?

  • Job shadows let students explore potential careers and jobs and help build occupational knowledge.
  • They illustrate the education and training needed for entry into certain industries.
  • They let students know about your company’s processes and products/services and the role your business plays in the community.
  • They provide a context for learning and foster an understanding of how academic concepts are applied in a real-world setting.
  • They offer the opportunity to interact with adult professionals and practice observation and communication skills.

What are the benefits to my company?

  • Exposes potential future workers to job opportunities and careers with your company, as well as the required skills and education to be successful in your industry.
  • Introduces students to one or more of your employees.
  • Helps your employees understand how to better communicate with the next generation of workers.
  • Provides an efficient way to introduce and engage multiple employees with your commitment to education and connect your company with the community.

What do I need to do next?

  • Determine who will coordinate the job shadow for your company and have them connect with the work-based learning coordinator to address scheduling, planning and logistics.
  • Arrange for a presentation to those employees who will participate in job shadows.
  • Distribute the Employer Job Shadowing Tip Sheet to interested employees.
  • Consider any impacts on company policy.

Resources

  • Review the Employer Participation Options Fact Sheet to learn more about how to get the most out of your partnership with the Los Angeles/Orange County Regional Consortium.

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Activity Summary

Program Level: All.Employer/Student

Ratio: 1:1

Duration: Usually 1 workday

Frequency: One time

Location: Workplace

Costs: Staff time

Special Considerations: Employee selection. Company visitor and volunteer policies or practices.