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How to Start A Great Work-Based (Internship) Program

This is a quick guide to help you establish a quality work-based learning program. The complete guide should be referenced during the process of establishing a program and is located at the bottom of this list. This quick guide can also be used to evaluate your current work-based learning program to ensure you are providing the best internship opportunities for your students.

  1. Earn a Multioccupations (MOC) Endorsement.
    1. The MOC endorsement provides the foundational skills necessary for the coordinator to prepare students for their internships. 
    2. MOC Endorsement courses are available through: 
      1. Iowa State: Course #418 available online. Contact: Michale Hansen or Scott Smalley to register. 
      2. UNI courses and contacts.
    3. Guidelines to add the 5-12 Multioccupations Endorsement.
  2. Ensure you, as the instructor, will have adequate release time.
    1. High quality programs across the state have instructors regularly meeting with the student and manager at the job site. When an instructor regularly checks in at a job site, it reduces the risks and improves communication between all parties.
    2. To ensure student safety and growth in skills, the instructor needs release time during the school day to visit the job site to meet with the student and manager on a regular basis.
    3. Evaluations have more meaning when discussed with all parties present. Students grow professionally when they know their coordinator is checking in on them. Employers are more likely to provide outstanding opportunities because they know the instructor will be asking about progress while referencing the student’s training plan.
  3. Determine the curriculum to offer your students.
    1. Identify the topics necessary to prepare and train your students to have the professional skill set prior to their internship.
    2. Reach out to your local Intermediary to connect with area schools to share and brainstorm curriculum ideas. Follow this link to find your Intermediary:
    3. Discuss with your local community college to determine if concurrent enrollment courses are an option you would like to pursue for the course. 
  4. Identify students for the program.
    1. Work with the school counselor(s) to ensure the student’s schedules will have release time during the day to go to the job site. These times should match with the coordinator’s release time to visit the job site.
  5. Reach out to your Intermediary to find area employers interested in hosting high school interns and begin networking.
  6. Discuss with your administrator and school attorney which contracts/documents to utilize to protect the various parties involved. Suggested items to discuss with your administrator and school attorney:
    1. Photo Release – This allows you to use pictures of the students from the internship program to promote to future stakeholders.
        Protects: The teacher coordinator and the school district.
    2. Driving Contract – Connect with your school’s attorney to write a contract to transfer the liability of the student’s driving to and from the work site to the student.
        Protects: The school district.
    3. Training Agreement – Outlines the responsibilities for each stakeholder: student, parent, coordinator, and business partner during the internship. 
        Protects: All parties by clearly defining roles and expectations.
    4. Training Plan – An essential component of a successful program. The training plan is written for each individual student in collaboration with the business manager based on the student skill set, career path goals, and expected skillset for the career path. This also identifies potential safety hazards and provides guidance on what the student can and cannot operate. 
        Protects: All parties by clearly identifying goals, skills, and safety components connected to the internship and referenced during regular site visits.
    5. Confidentiality Agreement – Connect with your school’s attorney to write a contract to require training on confidentiality from the business partner to the student with clear expectations.
        Protects: The business partner, student, and parent.
    6. Expectations of the Program – Outline any specific course requirements such as hours, deadlines, credits, etc.
        Protects: The coordinator and school by providing clear expectations for the program.
  7. Attend the Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinator Conference. This is the best way to learn from other coordinators on how they built great programs as well as learn about important and trending topics. Website:

Work-Based Learning Guide

Iowa Work-Based Learning Guide

Iowa Health Science Work-Based Learning Toolkit

Iowa Advanced Manufacturing Work-Based Learning Toolkit


General Work-Based Employer Checklist
Sample Training Plan
Sample Training Agreement

Intermediary Network

The Statewide Work-Based Learning Intermediary Network helps prepare students for the workforce by connecting business and the education system through relevant, work-based learning activities to students and teachers. These activities can include speakers, tours, job shadows, and internships.

Work-Based Learning Newsletter

The Work-Based Learning Newsletter is sent monthly and highlights the connection between education and business/industry through student and educator experiences. If you are interested in receiving a copy of this newsletter, please sign-up below.

Receive the Iowa Work-Based Learning Newsletter by entering your email address below.

Work-Based Learning Newsletters

September 2018

Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators

The purpose of the Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators is to establish improved communication among high school coordinators, businesses, and other professional groups to support the development of quality programs.

Iowa Work-Based Learning Coordinators


Future Ready Iowa


Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on June 06, 2020 at 12:58pm.