Career Preparation Activities (Work-Based Learning)

Description: Learn about work through work. Activities engage students in authentic experiences that develop skills for successful outcomes in postsecondary education and employment.

Career preparation deepens student knowledge with experiences that develop skills for success.  The activities involve students in real experiences that develop skills for future success.

a teenage boy using a 3D printer

School-based Business and Entrepreneurship

High school courses can include actual student-run businesses in the school setting. The programs are offered through:

  • Career and Technical Education (CTE) courses
  • Career and Transition Services (CTS) elective course

Students learn valuable skills associated with:

  • customer service
  • marketing
  • finance
  • quality control

a group of teenagers digging dirt into a wheelbarrow

Volunteering or Community Service

Volunteer or Community Service opportunities are:

  • unpaid
  • may not be part of a school course or program

Through these experiences, students:

  • connect with the community
  • gain experience working in a specific role or environment.

Volunteers do not displace paid workers and do not receive any other benefit beyond the experience itself.

group of teenage girls and boys volunteers dressed in medical scrubs

Career and Technical Education Courses

Through Career and Technical Education Courses, students learn the:

  • technical skills needed for many occupations
  • knowledge needed for higher education or entry-level employment

For more information on career and technical education courses in Fairfax County Public Schools, please visit the CTE webpage.

young child playing with a puzzle and high fiving his teacher

Community Work Experience

Career and Transition Services staff coordinate and support students in unpaid or paid work through the following classes and programs:

  • Education for Employment (EFE)
  • Work Awareness and Transition (WAT)
  • Education for Employment for the Office (EFEO)
  • Career Preparation
  • Davis and Pulley Career Centers
  • Secondary Transition to Employment Program (STEP)

These experiences help students learn important skills for future employment success. Students benefit from:

  • A link between school and work
  • Career paths based on interests and talents
  • Learning skills for keeping jobs
  • Building self-confidence
  • Learning self-advocacy in the workplace
  • Gaining academic, social, and communication skills through work
  • Learning about the current job market  
  • Meeting professional role models

Career and Transition Services works with over 350 employers and 1,200 students with disabilities in community work experiences each year.  Some of our business partners include:

  • Metropolitan Washington Airport Authority
  • Fairfax County Government
  • Marriott Conference Center
  • Northern Virginia Community College
  • INOVA Health System
  • Social Security Administration
  • Greenspring Village
  • Shoppers Food Warehouse
  • Papa John’s Pizza
  • Hilton Hotels and Resorts
  • Silver Diner
  • Panera
  • University Mall Theater
  • Sodexo
  • General Dynamics
  • JCPenney
  • CVS
  • Michaels Craft Stores

View a comprehensive list of our 2018-19 community work experience partners.

For unpaid community work experiences, the Fair Labor Standards Act guidelines are followed:

  • Participants will be youth with physical and/or mental disabilities for whom competitive employment at or above the minimum wage level is not immediately obtainable and who, because of their disability, will need intensive, ongoing support to perform in a work setting.
  • Community Work Experience will be a component of the individualized education programs (IEPs) developed and designed for the benefit of each student.
  • There has been no displacement of employees, vacant positions have not been filled, employees have not been relieved of assigned duties, and the students are not performing services that are of benefit to the business.
  • The students are under continued and direct supervision by either representatives of the school or by employees of the business. The student receives ongoing instruction and close supervision at the worksite during the entire experience, resulting in any tasks the student performs being offset by the burden to the employer of providing ongoing training and supervision.
  • Students are not entitled to wages for the time spent in the work experience and students are not entitled to employment at the business at the conclusion of their work experience.

a group of students working on a construction site

Youth Apprenticeships

Registered apprenticeships help students gain skills. Instructors include qualified teachers and journey worker experts.

two students working to fix a car

Competitive Employment

While working at a competitive employment position, students:

  • Learn and demonstrate employability skills
  • Earn wages in the summer or year-round jobs
  • Are evaluated by their worksite supervisor based on job performance and workplace expectations
  • Receive job coaching support at the beginning of their jobs coordinated by FCPS
  • Are supported by FCPS Employment and Training Representatives (ETR) during the school year

Contact Sue Eaton (571-423-4596) or follow us @FCPS_CTS on Twitter, to learn more about work-based learning and sponsor a unique learning opportunity for students with disabilities at your workplace.