Work-Based Learning - Work Experience Activity Guide

  • Work Experience Fact Sheet
  • Coordinator Checklist
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Work Experience Fact Sheet

What is Work Experience?

A Work Experience is a Career Preparation activity in which a student is at a worksite doing real work for pay. The student is held to the same expectations as all employees and is evaluated by the worksite supervisor based on workplace expectations and performance.


Work experiences range from regular, paid employment in summer and/or year-round jobs to subsidized employment and learning-rich work experience. They include both found jobs and those arranged by the school or program. There are also a range of education and training linked work experience program types defined at the state and federal levels (See State and Federal Work Experience Fact Sheet).

Work Experiences are designed to:

  • Promote hands-on, real-world experience in a field of interest.
  • Provide productive value for the employer.
  • Offer opportunities to develop, practice and demonstrate employability skills.
  • Build occupational knowledge.
  • Create awareness of the education needed to be successful in the industry.

Work Experiences are structured to:

  • Enable students to practice and prepare for work, potentially in an area of career interest.
  • Help students develop the Top 10 Core Employability Skills.
  • Build knowledge about the education and training needed for a particular job, career path and advancement in the industry.

Work Experiences are supported by:

  • Classroom preparation, including research on the industry and participating businesses.
  • Employer orientation and support.
  • Opportunities to reflect upon the experience verbally and in writing.

Work Experiences are connected to:

  • Individual career development/training plans.
  • Future work-based learning activities.
  • The student’s next steps.

Work experiences are 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.

Virtual Note

In a virtual work experience, a student is engaged as an employee with an employer or organization partner. As with internships. many industries and employers have recently shifted to a model where their employees work from home-based settings. Most of these employers have established protocols, communications systems and supports to ensure that work is productive, employees are engaged and connected to each other. These same protocols apply to learners who are working from home. Follow the tips for virtual internships when implementing virtual or hybrid work experiences for learners.

Digital Summer Youth Employment Toolkit 2.0 is our recommended resource for conducting virtual work experiences.


The Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions released the 2.0 version of our Digital Summer Youth Employment Toolkit December 16, 2020. This resource builds on the initial toolkit from June 2020, and is informed by implementation lessons from 2020’s “summer like no other” from communities across the Opportunity Youth Forum (OYF) network and national partners.


Summer Youth Employment Program
DYCD is partnered with CTE through CareerReady SYEP, a program that offers participating CTE high schools guaranteed SYEP work experience slots and the opportunity to build strong connections between participating students’ year-round academic learning and their summer work and enrichment experience. In addition, the program provides explicit connections to high quality postsecondary counseling and planning for the upcoming school year. Ongoing professional development and technical assistance supports high quality WBL experiences and placements that are aligned with CTE content areas.

*In New York State, this includes certified work-based learning coordinators and others who facilitate, arrange and support work-based learning activities for students.

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Quick tips for Work-Based Learning Coordinators* to ensure successful Work Experiences


  • Define the work experience program structure (time-frame, expectations, host expectations, and staff support, for example).
  • Identify all interested teachers and help them plan for the work experience activity.
  • Prepare teachers and encourage them to support and leverage the work experience. Share the Teacher Tip Sheet.
  • Work with teachers to create a list of interested and qualified students.
  • Select and refer appropriate candidates for interviews, matched to employer/supervisor specifications.
  • Provide supervisor with Employer Work Experience Tip Sheet.
  • Determine the worksite supervisor’s preferred form and frequency of contact.
  • Distribute and collect appropriate forms.
  • Identify learning objectives and complete the WBL Plan.
  • Address any transportation or safety gear needs.


  • If possible, meet with students and worksite supervisors at their workplaces and observe workplace activities. Make sure these visits are pre-arranged with the host and don’t disrupt workflow.
  • Regularly assess student progress and impact of the experience.


  • Have the worksite supervisor complete the WSS Evaluation and review with the student.
  • Document the work experience. Get feedback from employers and teachers and summarize result using the WBL Activity Evaluation.
  • Help students update their Resume’ and Employability Skills Profile and think about any next steps they would like to take to further their career goals.
  • Work with teachers to coordinate “go deeper” activities to connect the work experience to the classroom and their career goals.
  • Take pictures from the work experience and provide them to the company for use on their website or newsletter. Ensure you have signed releases for all photos.
  • Publicize the work experience and the business that participated by placing a story in the local newspaper or posting on the school or agency webpage.

  • Consider other potential public relations benefits and opportunities.

Sample Timeline

  • Beginning of the School Year: Identify interested teachers and brainstorm business partners who could participate.
  • Two months in advance: Invite business partners to list opportunities.
  • One month in advance: Screen students to employer specifications and arrange for interviews with the employer.
  • One week in advance: Confirm selection and make sure the student has proper documentation.
  • During Work Experience: Visit worksite, if possible, and observe workplace activities. Provide support and address any issues that may arise.
  • After Work Experience: Send thank-you notes to employers and supervisors and ensure student