Work-Based Learning

Types of work-based learning experiences

Students may encounter opportunities for different kinds of work-based learning experiences. In New Hampshire we use these definitions:

Job Shadows

Job shadows are hands-off experiences. Generally they last from a couple of hours up to one day and are designed so students can observe someone at work in a specific career field. Students do not perform work during a job shadow experience, nor do they receive any compensation. Job shadow day roles and topicsassessment example


Internships usually combine hands-off and hands-on experiences (although there are exceptions to this associated with state and federal regulations). Internships may be paid or unpaid, and they are structured to help demonstrate practical applications for academic learning.

Business Tours

A tour can be one-on-one (student and guide) or a group experience. It generally involves a guided walk-through of a facility or business, with the opportunity for the student to ask questions of the guide.

Informational Interviews

Informational interviews are one-on-one conversations with an experienced employee in which a student interested in that field of work can ask questions. These interviews can help a student determine if a place of business might be a good fit for a longer-term opportunity such as an internship.

Extended Learning Opportunities

Extended Learning Opportunities (ELOs) allow New Hampshire students to earn credit through learning experiences that happen outside the traditional classroom. Some ELOs require NH Department of Labor (DOL) approval, depending on how they fit into the above definitions. When in doubt, call the DOL at 603-271-0127. They are happy to answer questions.

Speak the language of the workplace

Use business language when talking with employers about placing a student. Nothing confuses employers more than language that is unique to education or the workforce development fields. This article from the National Collaborative on Workforce and Disability (NCWD) explains more: Strategies for Youth Workforce Programs to Become Employer-Friendly Intermediaries (PDF, 6 pages. 2005).

Learn to facilitate disability inclusion in your community. These disability inclusion training materials and tips from the Corporation for National and Community Service may be helpful.

Supporting Students in Work-Based Learning

Providing quality and meaningful work-based learning to students with high support needs is an ongoing challenge. Work-Based Learning Brief (PDF, 13 pages, 2021) from the Massachusetts Partnership for Transition to Employment offers strategies and structure for developing and implementing a program.

Obtain NH Department of Labor approvals

Summary of NH Department of Labor work-based learning guidelines, from Primex and reviewed by the NH DOL. 

Create Approved Work-Based Learning Experiences (PDF, 54 pages, 2010) will help you navigate the NH Department of Labor process for obtaining approval for work-based learning experiences.  It is getting out of date, but is still useful for background understanding.  Included are examples of forms and letters, career objectives, and an overview of child labor laws. Approved by both the NH DOL and the NH Department of Education. From the Monadnock Center for Successful Transitions.

Background information on work-based learning

Work-Based Learning Toolkit from the National Center for Innovation in Career Technical and Education (NCICTE) offers guidelines and resources related to engaging employers, collecting data, and scaling effective programs.

The federal Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)  developed a guidance letter on volunteerism and service learning as a pathway to employment for youth, including youth with disabilities. It’s a good summary of current studies of the benefits of volunteer and paid work in high school, plus information about income exclusions for service-learning stipends that are available to Social Security disability beneficiaries participating in AmeriCorps programs.

Related Resources

New content 5/12/23