Updated: October 25, 2022

16 Job Shadowing Ideas & Activities for Work in 2024

Here is our list of the best job shadowing ideas.

Job shadowing ideas are activities and exercises to complement on-the-job training and career exploration. For example, auditing staff meetings, holding office tours, and completing training sessions. These activities enhance the experience of employees and students as they closely observe and follow other employees to learn about new roles.

These ideas are similar to examples of mentorship program ideas, employee engagement activities, and best practices of professional development.

This list includes:

  • job shadowing ideas for students
  • job shadowing ideas for employees
  • fun job shadowing activities
  • job shadowing event ideas
  • job shadowing program ideas

Let’s get to it!

List of job shadowing ideas

Job shadowing is a form of on-the-job training in which participants observe and follow employees to learn about new career opportunities. Here are our top job shadowing ideas and activities for employees and students.

1. Five things in common

One of the best ways to kick off your fun job shadowing activities is with an icebreaker. Icebreaker games can help participants get to know each other before the day begins. A fun icebreaker to consider is called five things in common.

The objective of this icebreaker is to find five similarities between players.

For example:

  • We both like action movies
  • Our favorite food is pizza
  • We love to read mystery books
  • We both have one sibling
  • We like the same football team

To play this icebreaker, participants should write 10 to 20 likes and dislikes on a piece of paper. Next, the two players should read from their sheets and discuss any items they find in common. The goal is to find at least five similarities between the two players.

After completing this icebreaker, participants should feel more comfortable when interacting with each other, even if the pair has just met. Feeling comfortable with each other should make the rest of the job shadow experience run smoothly.

Check out more icebreaker games for small groups.

2. Goal setting

We recommend beginning the job shadowing experience with a goal-setting activity. During this activity, the job shadow student should list specific skill goals, such as:

  • Improve communication skills
  • Edit and refine resumes
  • Build leadership skills
  • Meet new coworkers
  • Apply to a new position within the company

Choosing specific goals will give participants attainable actions to work toward throughout the experience.

Here is a list of goal setting activities.

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3. Staff meeting auditing

Including job shadowers in important staff meetings is a great way to provide a realistic experience. In addition, you should encourage participants to speak up during meetings and volunteer their unique opinions.

For example, if the marketing team uses their staff meeting to discuss a new social media post, then the job shadower may have ideas on innovative ways to engage followers. This employee may suggest creating a new TikTok video, for instance, which can bring in a whole new audience.

Attending and contributing to staff meetings can help job shadowers feel like they are already part of the team.

4. Rotating duties

The best way for job shadow participants to get firsthand experience is by completing common office tasks. However, rather than having job shadowers perform the same functions, we recommend assigning them to a different employee daily. New duties and responsibilities can add variety to the job shadowing experience.

We recommend providing different daily tasks and responsibilities in the form of a checklist, such as:

  • Perform data entry
  • Make phone calls
  • Format emails
  • Manage office paperwork
  • Schedule meetings
  • Write blogs

Giving a job shadow employee an hour to work independently on different responsibilities can provide a sense of their new role.

5. Workplace tour

If you are looking for job shadowing event ideas, then we recommend adding an office tour to the schedule. Providing job shadow participants with an office tour is a great way to build excitement and inspiration.

It would help if you considered taking your job shadow employee to all of your favorite office spots, such as the coffee shop, cafeteria, courtyard, or lounge area. You can also show them your favorite areas to get work done or the best office with the prettiest view.

Taking job shadowers on a tour of the office can help these folks envision themselves joining your team in their dream job.

6. Q&A panel discussion

One of the best job shadowing program ideas is a question-and-answer panel discussion with current employees. We recommend opening up the floor for job shadow participants to ask questions.

The current employees can answer questions like:

  • Why did you choose this job?
  • What do you love most about your job?
  • What skills do you need to succeed in this role?
  • What does the career path for an employee in this role look like?
  • What other teams do you collaborate with in this role?

Providing a forum for questions and answers will help your job shadow participants understand the ins and outs of the team. In addition, the current employees’ responses may spark inspiration among job shadowers looking to transfer to a new team or change careers.

7. Employee interviews

One of the most insightful job shadowing ideas for students is interviewing current employees. More specifically, these students should interview the employee they are shadowing for the day.

Common interview questions include:

  • Where did you begin your career?
  • What are some of your biggest career milestones and accomplishments?
  • What job did you have before your current role?
  • Out of all the jobs you have had, which has been your favorite?
  • Do you have any advice on how to move up in your career?
  • Where do you see yourself five years from now?
  • What advice would you give to candidates looking to apply to your team?

Sitting down to interview employees is a great way for students to make the most of the experience. In addition, interviews can help students build the confidence to ask questions while learning about their dream job from current employees.

8. Team lunch

We recommend using time mid-day for the host employee and student to grab lunch together. You can make the experience special by getting out of the office and heading to a nearby restaurant.

We suggest bringing a few coworkers to the lunch so the job-shadowing student can socialize and interact with other team members. Speaking to new employees can provide your job shadower different perspectives about the company. Your teammates can also use this time to give your job shadower a warm welcome to the team.

Taking a team lunch in the middle of the day is a great way to decompress and add some fun to the job shadow program.

Here is a guide to doing a virtual lunch.

9. Resume review

One of the most helpful job shadowing ideas for students is to edit and review resumes. By pairing up with a current employee and reviewing resumes together, students can better understand how to improve their resumes.

As part of the resume review exercise, students should bring a hard copy of their resume to the job shadow. From there, the student should sit down with the employee they are shadowing for an in-depth critique. Finally, the current employee should list a few suggestions to help the student improve the document for the desired role.

Students should walk away from the resume review portion of the job shadow with specific actions to make their resume more attractive to employers and hiring managers.

10. Mock interview

If you are looking for fun job shadowing activities, then you should arrange mock interviews between job shadowers and current employees. In a mock interview, the current employee acts as the interviewer, while the job shadower acts as the candidate applying for the role.

Mock interviews should closely mirror real-world job interviews. It would be best to ask common interview questions, such as:

  • Tell me about yourself.
  • What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
  • What is your greatest professional achievement?
  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Tell me about a challenge you faced and how you overcame that challenge.
  • Tell me about a time you demonstrated leadership skills.
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • Why should we hire you?

In addition to common interview questions, employees should also ask role-specific questions during the mock interview. Including role-specific questions will allow participants to rehearse answers to common questions usable in real interviews for their desired role or industry.

Mock inter views help prepare potential candidates for a job interview. The best part about this activity is that candidates can rehearse an interview for their dream jobs. As a result, these employees can get enough practice to succeed in an actual job interview in the future.

Check out this list of interview questions.

11. Networking

One of the best job shadowing ideas for employees is to provide opportunities to network with other employees at the company. Networking is interacting with others to gain new information or professional contacts.

A few examples of networking events for a job shadowing program include:

  • Company breakfast
  • Speed networking
  • Office open house
  • Product demo
  • Employee cocktail hour

Providing networking opportunities for job shadow students can help them meet employees across the company while learning about different career opportunities.

Here is a list of networking event ideas.

12. Training sessions

Some of the most insightful job shadowing program ideas are training sessions. Therefore, we recommend offering a variety of training sessions and skill-building workshops available for job shadowers.

Here are a few key skills you can help employees improve through training sessions:

  • Problem-solving
  • Communication
  • Decision-making
  • Stress management
  • Time management
  • Organization
  • Customer service
  • Collaboration

There are a few different ways to arrange skill-building training sessions for employees. If you would like the workshop to take a live class format, then you should find a subject matter expert to lead the course at your office. We suggest looking for an outside source or an employee to lead the class. If you prefer to use pre-recorded online courses for your training session, then do your research to find a reputable course that your job shadowers can work on independently.

Whether your training course is in-person or online, job shadowers are sure to develop their professional skills through this exercise.

Check out more corporate workshop ideas.

13. Key projects

One of the best ways for job shadowers to show their potential is by working on projects in the office. Employers should come up with a few special projects for participants to complete, such as:

  • Day in the life activity, mapping out daily responsibilities in the role
  • Team interviews, asking current employees about their jobs
  • Scavenger hunt, searching for common items around the office
  • Product pitch for one of the team’s new products
  • Presentation, recapping the job shadowing experience

Working on key projects can help improve collaboration, teamwork, and technical skills for job shadowing students.

14. Daily one-on-one debriefs

Before the day is over, we recommend having the employee and student pairs sit down for a one-on-one meeting. During this meeting, the duo should discuss the overall experience, such as highs, lows, and improvement areas.

The pair should also exchange contact information so they can keep in touch. If the experience was positive, the current employee might also assist the job shadower in their job hunt, such as writing a letter of recommendation or serving as a reference.

Here is a list of virtual one-on-one meeting ideas.

15. Reflection journal

When the day is over, job shadowers should take a few minutes to reflect on the experience in a journal. When writing reflections, employees and students should consider the experience’s benefits.

Here are a few questions to consider:

  • What are some of your ideas and expectations going into the job shadow?
  • Did the experience live up to your expectations?
  • What did you like most about the job shadow?
  • What was your least favorite part of the experience?
  • Did anything surprise you about the role?
  • After completing the job shadow, where do you see your future career path?

After spending one day in the role, job shadowers should better understand the job and decide if they are still interested in pursuing this career opportunity. In addition, reflecting on the job shadow experience can help students and employees take the next step in their careers.

16. One-week reunion

We suggest following up with job shadow participants about one week after the program has concluded. Host companies should send notes thanking employees for volunteering their time for the program. In the follow-up note to students, employers should remember to ask for any feedback that can help to improve the program for future participants.

Participants who shadowed team members should also follow up. These students should send a thank you note to the current employees who showed them around the office. In addition, students should include a few highlights from the experience, such as the biggest lesson they learned, their favorite part of the day, and their future job plans. Most importantly, job shadowers should thank employees for taking the time out of their day to act as mentors and hosts in the job shadowing program.


Job shadowing ideas and activities are different ways for employees and students to learn about potential job interests and career paths. As part of these career exploration activities, students are assigned to a current employee whom they must observe and follow throughout the workday.

Job shadowing activities can provide a deeper understanding of a new role, an opportunity to learn new skills, and the chance to network with employees in different departments. After a job shadowing experience, participants should be able to understand how other teams work and make an informed decision if this job is the right fit.

For more advice, check out these books on training and development, coaching books, and mentoring books.

FAQ: Job shadowing ideas

Here are answers to questions about job shadowing ideas.

What is job shadowing?

Job shadowing is a form of job training in which employees or students can learn about new career opportunities by following employees around the office. Through this activity, participants can learn about different jobs and responsibilities from employees working in these roles.

How do you do job shadowing programs?

The best way to set up a job shadowing program is to pair participants up with current employees at your company. We recommend sending a questionnaire to employees and students interested in participating in a job shadow program. In the questionnaire, you should ask for two to three roles these folks are interested in shadowing.

Once you have responses from the questionnaires, begin pairing participants up with current employees who work in the roles indicated in the responses. Before the program, you can create a plan with different ideas and activities for the job shadow experience.

What are good job shadowing activities?

The best job shadowing activities help students build skills and gain critical insights into the role. For example:

  • Setting goals for career development
  • Attending staff meetings
  • Contributing to key projects
  • Editing and revising resumes
  • Hosting mock interviews

After participating in various job shadowing activities, students should be able to reflect on their experience and decide the next step in their career path.

How do you make job shadowing fun?

Preparation plays a big part in making a job shadowing experience fun. Before beginning the program, employers should create a concise agenda focused on creating a fun and engaging experience. Here are a few activities to consider:

  • Office tours
  • Networking sessions
  • Question-and-answer panels
  • Skill-building workshops
  • Employee interviews

Job shadowing can be a fun experience with the right activities and ideas. However, organization and preparation are essential, so we recommend having all factors ready before you begin pairing employees and students.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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