About This Toolkit

E&l Toolset Icon
This Toolkit

Toolkit Overview

About This Toolkit

The Earn & Learn Work-Based Learning Toolkit was developed as a how-to guide for designing, planning, a implementing quality Work-Based Learning activities for learners of all ages in all settings, including K-12 schools, community colleges, adult education programs, alternative education programs, workforce training programs and other career related education and/or training programs. The toolkit is designed to assist leadership, work-based learning connectors , teachers or faculty and their intermediary partners in implementing and supporting quality Work-Based Learning activities for all learners that are part of the Earn & Learn community. The toolkit is aligned with the principles of College and Career readiness and is intended to support larger school-wide efforts of graduating learners ready for continued education and/or training, or entry into careers.

The Work-Based Learning activities detailed in this toolkit include Guest Speakers, Career Days, Career Mentoring, Workplace Tours, Informational Interviews, Job Shadowing, Mock Interviews, Workplace Challenges, Internships and other Work Experiences, all delivered in partnership with employers.

This fourth edition of the WBL Toolkit has been developed to help schools, colleges, training organizations and their employer partners deliver educationally rich and authentic experiences across the work-based learning continuum, whether in the classroom, the workplace or online. It includes tips and tools for implementing revote and virtual Work-Based learning opportunities.

Toolkit Authors

This toolkit was developed by New Ways to Work and a team of Earn & Learn leaders, team members and work-based learning connectors. It draws heavily on original material from New Ways to Work and the toolkit developed with Earn & learn East Bay in 2017/18 (Updated in 2020) as well as versions adapted for the New York City Department of Education and P-TECH New York State.

Toolkit Audience

The audience for this toolkit is primarily Earn & Learn work-based learning connectors, school and partner agency staff, and teachers or faculty and program staff responsible for designing and delivering work-based learning opportunities to learners in the Earn & Learn community.

Participation in enhanced WBL activities will increase teacher/faculty and school/college awareness of the issues facing industry and facilitate a robust and practical connection between the Earn & Learn community and an expanded base of employer partners. Employers will be able to effectively engage with education and help support the development of their future workforce, and an increased number of learners will be aware of, have experience in and be prepared for the careers of the future.

Inside This Toolkit

This toolkit provides an overview of the foundations of work-based learning, detailed activity guides and support materials for each Work-Based-Learning (WBL) activity, and collection of checklists, tip sheets and support tools designed to increase the power and impact of work-based experiences across the career development continuum for learners in the Earn & Learn community.

Work-Based Learning Overview

Four documents lay the groundwork for creating and implementing high-quality Work-Based Learning activities for learners. WBL Connectors and leadership can use these documents to ensure that the school and college community understand the basic tenets of Quality Work-Based Learning and how it is defined, supported and documented.

The Overview includes the following documents.

Quality Work-Based Learning

Work-Based Learning provides an introduction to the principles of Quality Work-Based Learning and builds the foundation for developing any Work-Based Learning experience. It includes definitional standards for WBL and describes the benefits of participation to learners, schools and colleges, employers and the community.

The Career Development Continuum

The Career Development Continuum provides a definition of the continuum of Career Awareness, Career Exploration and Career Preparation and the identification of the range of Work-Based Learning activities across the continuum—whether conducted in the classroom, the workplace or community.

Work-Based Learning Essential Elements

Work-Based Learning Essential Elements defines the essential design elements to be applied to support and enhance the implementation and educational value of any WBL experience.

Work-Readiness Competencies

Work-Readiness Competencies describes a defined set of the core professional skills and behavioral competencies necessary for successful transition into the workplace. Earn & Learn has identified these skills as benchmarks of demonstrated cognitive development, effective interpersonal and decision-making skills, and self confidence in the work environment. Combined with the necessary academic and occupational skills, demonstration of these professional skills indicates readiness for work.

Work-Based Learning Activity Guides

The toolkit includes WBL activity implementation guides to help the Earn & Learn community and their employer partners design, structure and support effective and learning rich work-based learning activities for learners. Each guide includes an activity fact sheet, plus checklists for connectors and learners, tipsheets for teachers, faculty and employer volunteers, as well as a fact sheet for employer decision-makers. A set of sample implementation tools are also provided for each activity.

Activity Guides are provided for the following Work-Based Learning types:

  • Guest SpeakerA group of learners listen to a presentation to learn about the speaker’s organization, careers and industry and ask questions to help them consider whether they might like to pursue an opportunity in the industry.
  • Career DayBusiness partners from a variety of companies come together at a school to share information about their company, their job and the education and skills required for success in careers in the industry.
  • Career MentoringA learner is matched one-on-one or in small groups with an adult professional to explore potential careers and related educational issues.
  • Workplace Tour Small groups of learners visit a workplace, learn about the business, meet employees, ask questions and observe work in progress.
  • Informational Interview A learner formally interviews an employer partner about his or her industry, educational and career path and profession.
  • Job Shadowing A learner is paired with an employee of a host company and follows that employee during much of a regular workday.
  • Mock Interview Learners are paired one-on-one with a business partner who interviews them as if he/she were being interviewed by an employer for a paid internship or job.
  • Workplace ChallengeSmall groups of /learners (four to six per team) are engaged in a problem-solving exercise issued by an employer in consultation with a teacher or faculty member.
  • Internship A learner has the opportunity to learn by doing real work and being productively engaged in the workplace. Learners may work individually, in teams, work on a project, or rotate through a number of departments and job functions.
  • Work ExperienceAn opportunity for a learner to develop and demonstrate professional and occupational skills by addressing a core business function and doing productive work with an employer.

Employer Participation Options

The toolkit includes a section on employer participation options, designed to help employer partners select the activities that make the most sense for their organization. The section includes fact sheets and tip sheets designed to assist employers and their volunteers in supporting specific work-based learning activities.

Implementation Tools and Fact Sheets

The toolkit also includes a collection of universal WBL tools and Program Fact Sheets to support effective Work-Based Learning programs.

Options, Tips and Tools for Remote or Virtual WBL Activities

Each Activity Guide includes tips and options for conducting remote or virtual versions of the activity.

A Special Section of the Toolkit is devoted to providing ideas, tools and optional approaches to the provision of remote or virtual Work-Based Learning opportunities for learners.


About The Authors Of This Edition

This fourth edition of the Earn & Learn Work-Based Learning Toolkit was created by New Ways to Work on behalf of Earn & Learn. Team members from Earn & Learn provided review and comment on this edition and contributed content and implementation tools to the toolkit. Thanks to Grant Associates and the New York City Department of Education for the contribution of many remote and virtual WBL resources included in this toolkit, and NAF for the contribution of many of the WBL implementation tools.

The contents of this toolkit draw heavily on WBL Toolkits created by New Ways to Work with the State of California, the Kansas City, Kansas Schools, Earn & Learn East Bay, New York State P-TECH, the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. Additional tools and materials were contributed by NYC DOE CTE programs, Grant Associates, NAF, and INNOVATE Tulare-Kings.

New Ways to Work

New Ways to Work is a consulting, technical assistance, and training organization that helps communities build comprehensive local youth-serving systems, develop new programs and improve practice in the organizations that serve young people. New Ways helps create powerful partnerships among government, education, the community, philanthropy and the private sector to provide young people with the opportunities and support they need to prepare for success in career and life, while helping build the future workforce. New Ways has supported the development of work-based learning and employer engagement systems and strategies across the nation since the 1990s.

Earn & Learn

Earn & Learn is an Intermediary organization that works to effectively scale work-based learning experiences for all learners. E&L serves as a funneled point of contact for employers to work with a region’s schools, colleges, and community organizations to develop a local diverse talent pipeline and provide equitable access to high-wage, high-growth careers. Earn & Learn partners with K-12 school districts, community colleges, community-based organizations, trade associations, workforce boards and employers to advance more and better work-based learning (WBL) for learners. E&L has built a robust technical infrastructure Earn & Learn Employer Network Activated “ELENA” for tracking employer engagement and WBL activities using our proprietary framework, architecture, and automations. All Earn & Learn partner engagement is powered by ELENA.


Earn & Learn WBL Toolkit Sources

The contents of this toolkit draw heavily on WBL Toolkits created by New Ways to Work with the State of California, the Kansas City, Kansas Schools, Earn & Learn East Bay, New York State P-TECH, the New York City Department of Education and the New York City Department of Youth and Community Development. Additional tools and materials were contributed by NYC DOE CTE programs, Grant Associates, NAF and INNOVATE Tulare-Kings. The documents listed below were reviewed and revised as appropriate for inclusion the Earn & Learn WBL Toolkit.

New Ways To Work

  • The Quality Work-Based Learning Toolkit: California, 1998
  • Quality Work-Based Learning Toolkit: Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, 2003
  • Creating Quality Work-Based Learning, 2016
  • Earn & Learn East Bay Work-Based Learning Toolset, 2017
  • Work-Based Learning Toolkit: NYS P-TECH, 2017
  • NYC DOE CTE WBL Toolkit, 2018/2019

Grant Associates, Inc.

  • Career Day Toolkit, with NYC Dept. Education, 2013
  • Career Fair Tips (for Students)
  • CTE Industry Scholars Program: Career Days, 2017
  • CTE Industry Scholars Program: Worksite Tours, 2017
  • Employer Tour Overview
  • Interview Quiz, with NYC CTE
  • Interviewing Skills: How to Have a Successful Interview, with NYC Department of Education
  • Planning a Career Day Event, with NYC Dept. Education, 2013


  • Career Fair Interest Preparation Activity, 2015
  • Career Fair Notes, 2015
  • Career Fair Overview, 2015
  • Career Fair Planning Timeline, 2015
  • Career Fair Preparing Students, 2015
  • Career Fair Student Reflection, 2015
  • College and Career Readiness Skills, 2015
  • Finding and Maintaining Paid Internships, 2015
  • Guest Speaker Overview, 2015
  • High Quality Paid Internships, 2015
  • How to Write a Resume, 2015
  • Informational Interview Overview, 2015
  • Intern Orientation Icebreaker, 2015
  • Intern Orientation to the Workplace, 2015
  • Intern Weekly Check-In Meeting, 2015
  • Internship Employer Profile, 2015
  • Internship Planning Timeline, 2015
  • Internship Preparing Students, 2015
  • Internship Reservation Form, 2015
  • Internship Student Agreement, 2015
  • Internship Student Interest Form, 2015
  • Internship Student Reflection, 2015
  • Internship Student Research Activity, 2015
  • Internship Work and Learning Plan, 2015
  • Job Shadow Overview, 2015
  • Mock Interview Application, 2015
  • Mock Interview Overview, 2015
  • Mock Interview Planning Timeline, 2015
  • Mock Interview Professional Dress Guidelines, 2015
  • Mock Interview Questions, 2015
  • Mock Interview Rating Sheet, 2015
  • Mock Interview Sample Job Description, 2015
  • Mock Interview Student Preparation and Tips, 2015
  • Mock Interview-Student Reflection, 2015
  • Mock Interview Student Resume and Cover Letter, 2015
  • Preparing Students for a Mock Interview, 2015
  • Student Internship Consent Form, 2015
  • Sub-BA Business & Finance Jobs in New York City: A Deeper Dive, Labor Market Information Service,
  • Work-Based Learning Evaluation – Business Partner, 2015
  • Work-Based Learning Evaluation – Student, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Checklist and Tips, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Host Checklist and Tips, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Host Profile, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Overview, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Planning Outline, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Preparing Students, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Research Activity, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Sample Agenda, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Student Guidelines, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Registration & Permission Form, 2015
  • Worksite Tour Student Reflection, 2015

INNOVATE Tulare-Kings

  • Guide to Career Days, INNOVATE Tulare-Kings, Adapted from WBL Resources, Regional School Districts Resources, and “Launch Path: Playbook” Developed by Linked Learning Alliance & Foundation for California Community Colleges, 2016.
  • Guide to Worksite Tours, INNOVATE Tulare-Kings, Adapted from WBL Resources, Regional School Districts Resources, and “Launch Path: Playbook” Developed by Linked Learning Alliance & Foundation for California Community Colleges, 2016.


  • Career Day Planning Guide, Career Services Division, Oklahoma Department of Vocational and Technical Education, August 2015
  • How to Conduct a Mock Interview, web.stanford.edu
  • Intern Weekly Journal, Young & Rubicon
  • Job Interview Questions and Answers, thebalance.com
  • Job listings, greenkeyllc.com, 2017
  • Job listings, indeed.com, 2017
  • Job listings, rfcuny.org, 2017
  • Legal Guide to Labor Laws and Safety, CareerSmarts, 2013
  • Mock Interview, everydayinterviewtips.com