Work-based learning is an educational strategy that provides students with real-life work experiences that enhance and complement their academic instruction. The intent of work-based learning is to have students apply the skills and content knowledge they have learned in their technical programs to real-life employment settings, while simultaneously helping them to develop new skills while working hands-on with professionals and employers in their technical field. The primary goals of work-based learning experiences (WBLE) are to create career awareness, and provide real-world work experience. One important goal of WBLE is to offer invaluable career and work experiences that can help students better decide if the career path they are on is the right one, by exposing the students to a wide variety of occupational opportunities within their chosen program. WBLE puts students into placements where employers are able to observe and provide feedback on a student’s skills and work habits.
There are three types of career and work experience opportunities that BTC focuses on:
● Job Shadowing – A student will spend time observing what a typical day is like for someone employed in their field of interest. It is a chance to see what it is actually like to work in a specific job as well as to have the opportunity to ask questions about the job or profession. Job shadowing is an excellent opportunity to determine if the perception which a student has about a career field is the same as the reality of that job.
● Internship (short-term unpaid career work experience [CWE])– An opportunity for a student to spend a period of time with an employer who is willing to give the student more specific training in their career field. This is a good opportunity for a student to develop more skills, and determine if it is the right job for them.
● Co-Op (long-term paid career technical experience [CTE]) – Students with the appropriate skills are paid while working in an actual job, typically during the program’s regularly scheduled class time. An excellent opportunity to make money, enhance skills, and build a resume.
In addition to working with employers, students work with BTC’s work-based learning coordinator (WBLC) to create industry-standard resumes and cover letters, develop response techniques for being interviewed, learn time-tested methods for making the best first impression, and other skills that will help them secure a job in their field. Educators work with the WBLC to bring in professionals from the community into the classroom to work with students in a variety of ways. WBLE in the classroom can include doing informational interviews, mentorships, and specialized trainings from the program’s content area.
Work-Based Learning Coordinator
Shannon has a Masters in Education with a focus on curriculum, assessment, and instruction. She taught high school science for 16 years where she created work-based learning experiences in her classroom, so it was a natural transition for her to take on that role at BTC. As a work-based learning coordinator, she designs opportunities for students to be more prepared to enter the workforce, from helping them build resumes and cover letters to organizing career fairs for them to find jobs to support them in internships and cooperatives.
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