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Work-Based Learning Types

Do you like to learn by doing? Check out your work-based learning options in Minnesota.

Work-based learning lets you learn through real work experience instead of — or in addition to — classroom learning.


An apprenticeship program:

  • Is for anyone interested in getting a foot in the door of a skilled craft or trade.
  • Is a structured, formal way to gain skills on the job.
  • Is always paid.
  • Combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction.
  • Registered apprenticeships are for adults aged 16 and over. Youth apprenticeships are for high school juniors and seniors.

Learn more about apprenticeship programs.

Cooperative Work Experiences

A cooperative work experience:

  • Is for high school or college students.
  • Is a formal arrangement between your school and an employer.
  • Allows you to do paid work while attending high school or college.
  • Is usually supervised by a school representative to make sure that it matches your educational goals.
  • Might require a class or seminar to supplement what you're learning on the job.
  • Is subject to Minnesota child labor laws.

Credit for Prior Learning (CPL)

Credit for Prior Learning programs:

  • Are for college students or prospective college students.
  • Give you college credit for activities or classes you've taken outside the normal college setting.
  • Are sometimes based on classes that substitute for college work. Others allow you to meet college requirements by taking tests or substituting related work or life experiences.

Paid work experience, military service, volunteer work, and self-directed learning can all qualify as related experience.


An internship:

  • Is for high school or college students who want real-world experience to supplement classroom learning.
  • Is a short-term work experience that allows you to gain practical skills and learn about an occupation.
  • Can be either paid or unpaid.
  • Sometimes provides school credit.
  • Involves certain legal requirements for students under the age of 18.

Find websites to search for internships.

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing:

  • Is for anyone, at any stage in their career, but is most common for middle or high school students.
  • Ranges from a few hours to a few days.
  • Allows you to follow an employee on the job to experience real, day-to-day work in a specific occupation or industry.

Learn more about job shadowing at:


A career mentorship:

  • Is for anyone, at any stage in their career.
  • Is a relationship with someone who's further along in their career field. Your mentor may or may not be someone you already work with.
  • Can help guide your career decisions, both big and small.
  • Can give you inside information about an occupation, industry, or career. This can help you set or achieve your career goals.
  • Can offer guidance, support, and motivation.
  • Can range from a very informal to completely formal relationship.
  • Can be face-to-face or via e-mail (often called e-mentoring).

Find information on other e-mentoring programs at Explore Now.


A practicum:

  • Is for students from 10th grade through any level of higher education.
  • Allows you to complete a project related to your chosen career at a worksite.
  • Lets you use state-of-the-art technology and resources that are often too expensive for schools to buy.
  • Allows you to demonstrate your knowledge.

Student teaching is an example of a practicum for education majors.

Service Learning

Service learning:

  • Is for learners of all ages.
  • Can be a short-term or long-term project.
  • Helps you apply what you learn in a classroom or training to address community needs.

Local businesses, social service organizations, and schools form partnerships to involve youth in service learning.

Learn more about service learning.

Teacher Externship

A teacher externship:

  • Is for teachers to see examples of how school learning is applied in real life situations.
  • Helps teachers create lesson plans and activities.
  • Are common during the summer.
  • Are sometimes paid (through a teacher stipend).

Vocational Student Organizations

Vocational student organizations:

  • Are for adult and college students enrolled in vocational education programs.
  • Provide career and leadership development, motivation, and recognition.
  • Are an integral part of education and employment transitions programs.

Vocational student organizations in Minnesota include:

  • Business Professionals of America (high school and postsecondary) for business and office education students
  • Secondary DECA and Delta Epsilon Chi (postsecondary) for the marketing instructional area
  • PAS (National Postsecondary Agricultural Students) for agribusiness, agriculture, and horticulture areas of study
  • FCCLA for family, career, and community leaders
  • HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) for health occupations education programs

Volunteer Service

  • Is for anyone interested in making a difference and/or gaining new skills.
  • Usually involves being assigned to a public service position for a certain length of time.
  • Often includes pre-assignment training.
  • Is most often unpaid, but you can sometimes earn a cost-of-living allowance.
  • Sometimes includes other incentives, like credit for payment on school loans.

Find volunteer opportunities at:

Worksite Field Trips

A worksite field trip:

  • Is a guided tour of a business. It is usually for elementary or middle school students.
  • Is a chance to learn about work processes and the skill requirements of different jobs.
  • Is a short-term experience that lets you explore many occupations at one time and ask questions.
  • Is for an individual student or an entire class. It is usually more valuable for both students and employers when it involves a small group.
  • Junior Achievement provides worksite field trips that to help young people learn about economics.


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