Job shadowing is a career exploration strategy. A job shadowing is an opportunity for students to learn about a career by following an employee for a few hours or a day in a workplace setting of interest to the student. Students witness firsthand the work environment and potential career options. They get to observe the occupational skills in practice and gain an understanding of the value of professional training. Job shadowing is designed to increase career awareness, help model student behavior through examples and reinforce in the student the link between classroom learning and work requirements. Middle school is a great time for students to explore the broad range of occupations so that later on they will be able to narrow their career interests. High school students who have not narrowed their career interests may also find job shadowing to be a useful activity.
There are three primary participants in a job shadowing experience: workplace supervisor, student, and teacher. Each person has a set of expectations to meet in order to make the job shadowing exploration a success!
It is important for the supervisor to understand that job shadowing students are NOT present to work. They are there to observe and ask questions. Upon agreeing to take a job shadowing student, the supervisor will:
As part of the job shadowing experience, students are primarily there to observe and ask questions. The job shadowing opportunity should result in the student having been exposed to "real life" work in a career of interest. Students may practice hands-on tasks associated with the job, but may not perform productive work which benefits the employer. At the point at which they become productive, it becomes work experience, and students must be paid. To make the job shadowing experience successful, the student will:
- inform the student of any relevant policies or regulations at the worksite;
- answer any relevant questions about the profession or facility;
- direct students to the areas of their career interest;
- arrange for the actual job shadowing experience(s);
- monitor the student and contact the teacher should there be any problems.
- dress according to the standards of the particular site;
- call the site before the scheduled time if unable to attend on
- the appointed day;
- arrive at the site at the agreed upon time;
- follow all guidelines and policies of the site;
- complete any school assignments related to the job shadowing experience;
- complete all required paperwork (permission, medical authorizations, etc.).
Examples of the kinds of assignments students may be asked to complete as a result of their job shadow:
Student's Job Shadowing Guide
- written report on a specific career;
- information about the job shadowing site: emergency procedures, site fire plan, diagram of the facility, site personnel names and titles within department/floor;
- supervisor interview;
- a journal entry describing the site, the people, the work, and the environment;
- classroom oral presentation or poster presentation on careers represented at the job shadowing site.
Student's Job Shadowing Experience Worksheet
The teacher will be responsible to see that all students participating in the job shadowing experience have met all of the criteria required prior to the placement of students on job shadowing sites. The teacher will:
- insure that job shadowing paperwork is completed, including insurance documentation by the School District prior to any student assignment;
- schedule students and keep records of the student names, dates of shadowing, sites, and supervisors;
- follow-up with worksites for feedback on the job shadow;
- monitor completion of student assignments;
- be available in emergency situations.
The Groundhog Job Shadow Day Coalition
This national initiative began with the understanding that job shadowing is an academically motivating activity designed to give kids an up-close look at the world of work and to answer the question, "Why do I have to learn this?" Beginning with a nationwide kickoff on February 2 (Groundhog Day) each year, and continuing throughout the school year, students across America "shadow" workplace mentors as they go through a normal day on the job. The students get to see firsthand how the skills learned in school relate to the workplace. Job Shadowing is led by the National Job Shadow Coalition and is supported through a national sponsorship by Monster and a co-sponsorship by News Corporation.
Job shadowing is a really great way to check out a career in healthcare! Have you ever wished you could just do a job for a day or two to see if it is what you really want to do? Reading about something out of a book is great, but really being involved with something is totally different. As part of their enrollment in our Exploration Projects, many of our students got to follow along with a healthcare worker in a hospital near their school. They got to see up-close and personal what being in a hospital was like and what a variety of healthcare workers really do on the job. Here is what some of them had to say about the experience!
"The program really teaches you the basics especially when you shadow you get to see what's happening in the hospitals and what the doctors, surgeons and nurses really do. The program gives you opportunity to try many things and get hands on experience." Amela
"I wasn't sure what I wanted to do after I finished High School. Now that I got involved in this program my future is much clearer. Job shadowing gives you the opportunity to handle everything "hands on instead of reading out of a book." Kitzia
"Ever since I was a child I wanted to do something in the medical field and this program has allowed me to explore my options. It has been a blast to have the opportunity to shadow and learn all the different things required when going to work in the medical field." Arnela
"This program allows us to shadow individuals in the medical field and have a great hands on experience. Through this program I have seen all the criteria needed for the occupation and therefore have changed my mind to a different medical occupation." Jasna
"I got to see a C-Section from the beginning to the end! It was so cool!" Sanela
"I want to be a nurse and when I went job shadowing it gave me an opportunity to see other careers. After I shadowed a couple of nurses I loved that field even more. Now I can't wait to graduate from high school and go to college to become a nurse." Zhanna
"This program has encouraged me to become a nurse." Nicole
"I was so excited to go to maternity and even got to see a live birth!" Lydianne
"I just saw a baby being born...a baby boy! I love this shadowing!" Mirela
"The course really does help you in deciding on a career in the medical field. Going on job shadows is like sampling foods. It gives you a taste of different jobs and lets you see how you like it. I've really gotten a lot of things out of this program that I never really thought about." Georgia
"The best thing about the program is we could go to the hospital for job shadowing. We could observe and interview the nurses and doctors in the hospital. We can see the real things, not in the book. It's interesting and helpful to us because we can know what really happens in the hospital." Tram
"Each time I go on job shadowing I am able to experience a new job that is available to me in the future. Our teachers are very eager to help us with our careers, to provide all the information needed and in other words to point us in the right direction. As a result, now I have more opportunities to choose the right career for me." Alena
"I gave up my lunch period and a study hall to be a part of this program and I wouldn't even consider dropping this class! This program has altered my life in a huge way!" Amina
"This class is very important to me because you get to learn so much about the health careers. I like the job shadowing because its hands on. When you go to job shadow the person your shadowing tells you everything about that career, what other things are in this occupation." Adam
"Having the nurses and doctors share their experiences and routines to us is so moving. It's a positive. I would never have been able to relate or have an interest in the medical field like I do now." Monique