Introduce students to the world of work.

Getting Started

There are thousands of career choices in Idaho. Work-based learning can help you and your students navigate the options.

Work-based learning is a framework of various pathways, or solutions, which include practical experiences to help individuals (adults or students) gain an understanding of an occupation with on-the-job learning. It ranges from career awareness to career training. Work–based learning programs get their momentum, power, and energy from an alliance of educators, employers, and state-agency support.

So, how do you as an educator become part of this alliance? This is a great place to start. Here, you’ll find:

  • Resources to help you learn about the work-based learning continuum
  • Guides, lesson plans, and activities for classroom use
  • Connection to employers, through Next Steps Idaho Connections
  • Teacher externship opportunities to help you experience the world of work outside of education

There are thousands of career choices in Idaho. Sign up at Next Steps Idaho Connections to start engaging with employers.


It All Adds Up

Our life experiences color what we know about the world. They help us learn and contextualize what we hear around us, but they can also limit our creativity and vision for what’s possible. From a career development standpoint, lack of access to adults in a wide variety of professions can limit a student’s view of what they might want to be when they “grow up.”

Participating in work-based learning activities has many benefits for students. They can:

  • Learn about the types of businesses and employers they might work for in Idaho.
  • Expand their view of jobs available at any specific business. Engineering firms hire accountants too.
  • Try out the world of work to see what’s a good fit for their personality, whether it’s sending emails, measuring beams, or driving a tractor.
  • Get experience that will help them get into college or earn scholarship money.
  • Start to make connections with employers that could lead to employment after graduation.
  • Begin, in earnest, career training that will lead to a good-paying, rewarding career.

When reaching out to employers to ask for help, the best person to contact at the company is someone you know! You should also find out if someone else at your school already has a contact. Otherwise, look for a hiring manager or a communications team member for your initial contact.

Practice (phone) or draft (email) your introduction so you are ready to make a great first impression. Plan to cover the basics: Who you are, why you’re calling, what you are asking for, and your plan for taking the next step.

Once you reach out, your contact will expect you to follow up on the next steps you outlined – this is your project, after all! Check in regularly and try to respond to any email or call within 24 hours. Even the most enthusiastic partner has to prioritize their work first — your patient, polite persistence will almost always pay off.

Most importantly – plan ahead! You should go into any outreach effort knowing it may take 4-6 weeks to take the “next step” with an employer.


Learning About Work

Learning about work activities help people understand the world of work and explore career possibilities. This can include, teachers bringing career information into the classroom, students engaging with potential future employers, or teachers themselves doing short, practical work experiences.

First Steps

Learning Through Work

Learning through work helps trainees learn both specific job-related skills but also exposer to basic job-readiness skills that can help them prepare for a career or start an apprenticeship.

Digging Deeper

Learning at Work

This on-the-job training can be a formal apprenticeship program where hands-on training is coupled with related classroom instruction or can take place in when individuals are taught by other employees how to complete a task while doing a job.


From Art to Auto Body

Meet Samantha Spencer, a Kuna High School Senior whose creative interests in design led her to explore Auto Body Collision Repair at the Dennis Technical Education Center (DTEC) in Boise. Upon arrival, Samantha was a little starstruck and, as her teacher tells us, “She was all energy and no experience.” But all of that changed as soon as Samantha was introduced to the collision repair curriculum. Through a combination of classroom instruction, virtual training and hands on experiences Samantha is quickly working her way toward earning an I-CAR certification which will set her up for an easier entry into professional auto body work.

What began as an aesthetic interest in cars has developed into a passion for auto body painting. Her instructor tells us that Samantha can now take a car from “ground zero to a finished product, perfectly.” The Dennis Technical Education Center is a state-of-the-art, nationally-recognized facility in Boise that offers industry training in a variety of professional/technical fields such as automotive technology, graphic design, health professions, heavy duty diesel, information technology, and residential construction.

Samantha Spencer

Auto Body Collision Repair

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