Job Shadowing Guide

This guide is designed to help develop a Job Shadowing program that work for youth and young adults, host employers and organizations, and Department of Youth and Community Development (DYCD) programs. It is part of the DYCD Work-Based Learning Toolkit, which provides proven approaches and strategies to create high-quality, safe and legal Work-Based Learning experiences for youth and young adults enrolled in the Summer Youth Employment Program in New York City.

Job Shadowing Overview

Job Shadowing is a Career Exploration activity in which a youth or young adult is paired with an employee, observes the workday of that employee, interacts with clients or customers and attends meetings and other appointments with the person they are shadowing. Job Shadows are designed to help youth and young adults explore a field of interest while developing research skills and building occupational knowledge. A Job Shadow occurs over most of the workday, is conducted at the workplace and provides the opportunity for the youth/young adult to ask questions of the person being shadowed throughout the day.

Job shadowing experiences are designed to promote:

  • Exploration of a field of interest
  • Exposure to careers and jobs
  • Awareness of the academic, technical, and personal skills required in particular jobs
  • The opportunity to practice communication and other professional skills
The Importance of Structured Activity

Effective Job Shadowing programs include structured activity before, during and after the experience. These activities help ensure that all involved parties have meaningful, productive experiences that result in enriched youth and young adult learning. Proper planning and preparation, attention to legal and safety details, maximization of learning potential, and communication and support for the youth and young adults and employer or organization will help ensure success.

Sustaining and growing Job Shadows and all other Work-Based Learning types depend upon developing and maintaining positive relationships with the employers and organizations that are providing opportunities to the youth and young adults being served. These employers and organizations should be treated as valued customers and partners with frequent check-ins to address participation needs as they arise.

Job Shadowing Tools

Tip sheets and checklists for program staff, employer or organization partners, and youth and young adults are provided in this toolkit to help design, structure and support Job Shadowing experiences to maximize learning. Each tip sheet supplements the Work-Based Learning essential elements described in this toolkit, and provides a set of success factors and lists of activities or tasks to perform before, during and after the experience. A fact sheet for prospective host employers is also provided. Note: These tools and materials are available in Word format to allow for programs to brand appropriately and include contact information.

In this Tool Packet:
Program Staff Tip Sheet: Job Shadowing Success Factors A checklist and tip sheet for Summer Youth Employment Program staff
Youth/Young Adult Tip Sheet: Job Shadowing Success Factors A tip sheet to help youth and young adults get the most out of the Job Shadowing experience
Host Tip Sheet: Job Shadowing Success Factors A tip sheet for participating Job Shadow hosts

  • What’s my role in the Job Shadow?
  • How do I get matched up?
  • What should I talk about?
  • How does this work?

Employer Fact Sheet: Job Shadowing A fact sheet for employers that describes what’s involved in a company providing Job Shadowing opportunities

New York City Youth and Young Adult Career Pathways