Part 5: Employment Preparation and Work Based Learning Experiences in a Virtual World

View this material as a presentation: 

This information is adapted with permission from the National Technical Assistance Center on Transition. 

skip to: Coordination and Delivery of Work-based Learning Experiences | Activities for Remote Work-based Learning Experiences 


Is: To share ideas and strategies you can use today in providing remote work based learning experiences/activities for students with disabilities while school and community access are severely restricted due to COVID-19.

Isn’t: To provide federal, state, or legal guidance regarding how to provide services and meet requirements under IDEA, WIOA, or other agency legislations.

Challenging Times Can Present Unique Opportunities

Students with disabilities can still actively participate in work-based learning experiences which is known to be one of the best predictors of successful post-secondary employment

  • States are identifying innovative ways for students to participate in remote work-based learning experiences while practicing social distancing, and addressing community engagement concerns
  • States are developing creative partnerships around coordinated service delivery between Education-VR- Provider in serving students with disabilities, which will be key to successful on-site work experiences moving forward
  • States are sharing unique ways to engage and connect students virtually with business partners

Coordination and Delivery of Work-based Learning Experiences

WBLE and Pre-Employment Transition Services

Work-based learning experiences are one of the five required pre-employment transition services (Pre-ETS) that must be made available, in collaboration with local education agencies (LEAs), to all students with disabilities who need them, and are eligible or potentially eligible for ACCES-VR services:

  1. Job exploration counseling
  2. Work-based learning experiences, which may include in-school or after school opportunities, or experience outside the traditional school setting (including internships), that is provided in an integrated environment in the community to the maximum extent possible
  3. Counseling on opportunities for enrollment in comprehensive transition or postsecondary educational
    programs at institutions of higher education
  4. Workplace readiness training to develop social skills and independent living
  5. Instruction in self-advocacy (including instruction in person-centered planning), which may include peer mentoring (including peer mentoring from individuals with disabilities working in competitive integrated employment)

Virtual Work-Based Learning Experiences

Work-based learning experiences that can be virtual, may include:

  • Career Mentorship: An opportunity for a student to engage with a mentor who teaches or provides career-related guidance and advice.
  • Informational Interviews: An informal conversation for a student with someone working in a career area/job that interests the student, who will give them information and advice. It is not a job interview and the objective is not to find job openings.
  • Job Shadowing: An opportunity for a student to observe different jobs and ask businesses questions
    about the skills, knowledge, and abilities needed to perform the tasks involved in the job.
  • Workplace Tours/Field Trips: An excursion for students to gain first-hand observation of specific work sites. Students learn about the business, meet employees, ask questions and observe work in progress. Often conducted in a group.

Adapted From: Minnesota’s Pre-ETS Toolkit with Resources

Work-Based Learning Continuum

Job Shadowing and Work-Site Tours

  • Online videos touring businesses and specific jobs within a business
  • Group or individual
  • Student self-reflection

Informational Interviews and Mentoring

  • Interactive hands-on demonstrations
  • Career cluster employer presentations
  • Group or individual
  • Match students with adult mentors

Internships and Apprenticeships

  • Paid WBLE
  • Competitive, integrated employment settings
  • Industry-recognized credentials

Pre-boarding and Onboarding training

  • Pre-boarding and onboarding videos for potential and new hires
  • Business culture

Career Development Continuum

Awareness – Exploration – Preparation

Elementary & Middle Grades
  • Internships
  • Apprenticeships
  • Paid Employment
9th Grade
  • Career Exploration
  • Job Shadowing
  • Career Planning
10th Grade
  • Job Sampling
  • Service Learning
  • Paid Employment
  • Career Planning
11th Grade
  • Job Sampling
  • Service Learning
  • Paid Employment
12th Grade
  • Service Learning
  • Internships
  • Apprenticeships
  • Paid Employment
Ages 18-21
  • Job Sampling
  • Paid Employment
    • Self Exploration
    • Career Exploration
    • Field Trips
    • Job Shadowing

    Individualized based on student strengths, interests, preferences
    Revised from :

    Student Outcomes from Participation in Virtual Work-Based Learning:

    • Gains insight into work experience opportunities
    • Receives information regarding employer and industry expectations
    • Learns job skills related to the expectations set for a position
    • Receives guidance from people practicing in an industry
    • Develops networking relationships

    Adapted From: Minnesota’s Pre-ETS Toolkit with Resources

    Components in Developing Virtual WBLE

    • Identify a platform to use for the provision of remote or virtual work-based learning opportunities for students with disabilities
    • Identify appropriate WBLE curricula and resources that will be shared with students
    • Determine how student participation, progress, and outcomes in remote WBLE activities, either in a group or individually, will be tracked, reported, and measured
    • Identify ways to enhance student and family engagement in remote WBLE
    • Work with businesses and career one-stop partners to develop a plan for employer engagement in creating remote WBLE opportunities for students

    “Who Ya Gonna Call”

    • Just because some school buildings are closed, it does not mean ACCES-VR Providers cannot continue to provide Pre-ETS services to students
    • If schools are open in some capacity teachers are encouraged to reach out to their ACCES-VR points of contact to help them find ways to connect with students:
      • Teachers are the trusted source with families – solicit their help in getting paperwork and communicating with parents/families so they can understand and support the services you are offering
      • Communicate with ACCES-VR provider if there is a scheduled day or scheduled times students are to be available, and if “classroom time” could be shared or coordinated
      • Communicate with ACCES- VR provider on how students are submitting assignments on-line, and if those methods could be used to share homework assignments or activities assigned by ACCES- VR in the delivery of WBLE

    Students Without Remote Access

    • Determine who will be responsible for providing WBLE virtually to students who do not have remote access
    • Work with the school to determine how students without remote access are participating
    • If a student doesn’t have internet but has a laptop, you could put WBLE activities/modules or activities on jump/flash drives, and these could be mailed directly to the student or distributed to the students using the same delivery method as the school.
    • Can alter curriculum and activity assignments to paper/pencil, and use the phone to follow up.

    Activities for Remote Work-based Learning Experiences

    T-Folio: Work-Based Learning Experiences

    Remote Job Shadowing and Work-Site Tours

    • To supplement existing on-line work-based learning curricula, we encourage partnering with American Job Centers to identify employers willing to participate in virtual job shadowing (even if business is not currently open) using phone video/facetime, etc.
    • Employers start by introducing themselves and explaining the work that their company does followed by an interactive discussion if possible with the student about their own interests and what they would like to do and learn during the job shadow. If job shadow is not able to be conducted live, discussion with the student can occur after they watch the recorded video.
    • Employers can provide a virtual workplace tour, introduce the student to employees that may be on-site, and/or explain the job duties of employees.
    • Employers can also explain and demonstrate their own work tasks and encourage opportunities, when appropriate, for the student to think about and identify related work tasks at home.
    • Students should be encouraged and given time to ask any questions they have about the workplace and the work that employees do.

    adapted from

    Structured Assignments to Maximize WBLE in a Group Setting

    • During job shadowing, students can benefit from assignments that encourage them to gather information from what they see, hear, and do during the activity and think critically about how the experience connects to their career interests and goals.
    • For example, to provide structure to the job shadowing experience, ask the student to complete a virtual career scavenger hunt activity.
    • This assignment is used primarily for group shadowing experiences and requires students to work as a team to answer the scavenger hunt questions. This could be done virtually in a group chat or zoom meeting room. Think about what type of reward they could receive for achieving the goal of answering all the questions.
    • This provides an opportunity for students to develop team work skills, one of the many soft skills that employers look for in new employees.

    adapted from

    Job Shadowing Self-Reflection

    • Have the student complete a student evaluation form on-line, via text, or mail with questions about what they learned and how they will apply the new information to career planning. Student can email, text or mail evaluation form back, and this can be used as documentation of student participation and progress.
    • The job shadowing evaluation form should include various reflection questions to include:
      • what they learned about the job they shadowed including basic duties, work hours, and the type of education and training needed for the job
      • what they liked and didn’t like about the job and whether they would consider pursuing it as a career
      • what other ideas for careers may have arisen as a result of the job shadowing experience
      • suggestions for improving the experience
    • After the job shadowing experience, discuss these questions and others with the student to help them decide what next steps to take to further explore their interests or pursue their career and education goals.
    • Self-reflection is also a great activity to do on-line with the parent/family.

    adapted from

    Online Career Tours

    Virtual Industry Tours

    These virtual industry tours provide a unique opportunity for students, parents and job-seekers to experience Nebraska-based industries without leaving the home or classroom.

    The videos showcase different business and industries in each of the sixteen Career Clusters in the Nebraska Model. In addition to the tour of the business/industry, the videos also contain interviews with employees and managers discussing work requirements, education levels, salary and job prospects.

    The videos will provide an accurate picture of today’s workplace, breaking down stereotypes and assumptions while emphasizing the knowledge and skills required to be successful.

    Virtual Work-Site Tours

    • Tour Jobs that People Do in One Workplace
      • Virtual tours and visits are also a great way to show students a range of occupations and career options that may exist within one business or workplace.
      • For example, an airport, zoo, manufacturing plant
    • Tour “Essential” Jobs (Today’s World)
      • Grocery stores, hospitals, garage door repair, Heating and Air, Plumbing companies
    • Tour businesses that expose students with disabilities to employment opportunities that leadto industry-recognized credentials, and/or opportunities for internships or apprenticeships.
    • Workplace tours and visits are most engaging when the employer is willing to provide hands- on opportunities for students to experience some aspects of one or more jobs.
      • Tough to do virtually, but get creative. What might the student have available at home they could touch and work with that was talked about in the workplace video?
      • If student is really interest in a workplace, document and follow up with an on-site visit in the fall if possible.

    Organize Career Cluster Employer Demonstrations

    • Use Interactive Activities and Choices to Engage Students
    • Organize an event with employers from all 16 career clusters. One activity as an example, could be modeled after the TV game show, “What’s My Line?”
    • Professionals in nontraditional careers describe what they do at work and students guess what their occupation is.
    • Ideas for professionals include a sky diver, a female firefighter, a
      chef, a falconer, etc.
    • The professionals each talk about how they got to where they are

    adapted from

    Make Informational Interviews Interactive

    • To keep students engaged, provide guidance to employers on how to make it interactive.
    • When employers talk about their jobs on-line, they can bring tools of their trade to show what they do.
      • For example, a veterinarian can bring x-rays of animals to demonstrate parts of that job.
      • For example, when inviting employees from a video game design company to speak, ask them to share some video games they are currently developing, and show how they test the games for bugs fix any errors they found.

    adapted from

    Teaching Problem-Solving Through WBLE

    • Interactive employer presentations are central to meaningful work-
      based learning experiences.
    • Design employer presentations to engage the student or a group of students in completing a task or solving a problem that the professionals deal with on the job.
      • For example, one employer had students work in groups to design a building site plan using information about city zoning requirements, a permit application, and a cost estimate worksheet.
      • Think about how this very comprehensive activity could be completed virtually, and could include opportunities for a paid work-based learning experience in the summer or fall of next year.

    adapted from

    Mentoring Activities

    • Career-focused mentoring involves matching students with vetted adult
      mentors who assist them with career exploration in various ways.
    • One advantage of career-focused mentoring is its capacity to provide students with more individualized support for exploring careers specific to his or her interests.
    • The mentoring relationship can consist of telephone or online communication.
    • What distinguishes career-focused mentoring from general mentoring is that the mentoring interactions are intentionally focused on helping students identify and explore their career interests rather than just providing general support and encouragement.

    adapted from

    Zynga – Gaming Company: Onboarding Video

    • Students can watch these types of videos to gain an even greater insight into the company or business and many are available on-line. Some videos might even demonstrate essential features of performing some of the specific job tasks.

    Created by WINTAC, Employment Resources, Inc. (ERI), the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of Wisconsin-Stout Vocational Rehabilitation Institute (SVRI)

    • Series of web-based modules that align with the five required WIOA Pre-Employment Transition Services

    Using Webinar

    Assess Interests and Explore Careers

    Road Trip Nation

    Road Trip Nation – YouTube Channel
    How can you be successful in school and your job and your life? It can feel overwhelming, but you’re not alone. We’re here to help, with stories of people who overcame challenges and defined success for themselves, like Gary Vaynerchuk, John Legend, Michelle Obama, Joe Rogan, and more.

    Meet people who found careers connected to their interests and get inspiration and motivation for how you can find a fulfilling career and build a fulfilling life.

    KQED Career Path Videos

    KQED 50 Videos for Career Path Explorations

    From the arts to science to religion, introduce students to a variety of careers with KQED, BAVC and Salesforce resources. Use these videos to inspire young people to discover careers and explore possible career paths. Sign up for a free account in PBS LearningMedia to find more career resources and to easily create interactive learning experiences for the classroom.

    Khan Academy

    Work Based Learning Measures Series

    Work Based Learning Measures Series available through The College and Career Readiness and Success Center. A resource on measuring student learning while participating in work-based learning experiences.