Work-Based Learning with Career and College Success

Since 2014, Denver Public Schools (DPS) has expanded their Career and Technical Education (CTE) coursework providing STEM education in elementary and middle schools and career-focused courses in high schools across Denver.

Simultaneously, DPS invested in industry-aligned Work-based Learning (WBL) experiences to provide opportunities for students to learn ABOUT, THROUGH, and AT WORK. Over the years, DPS has expanded their offerings and can boast that they have the largest known K-12 WBL program in the country.

The DPS Career and College Success Career Development Team partners with industry professionals and higher education institutions to help students explore their career identity, visualize what’s possible, chart a plan for their futures, provide hands-on experience and expand their professional networks through a full-suite of WBL experiences.

This culture of learning gives students an idea of what employers will expect of them, and what it takes to be successful in the post-secondary world. Students not only expand their professional networks, but can even earn money while learning through paid Launch Internships and Apprenticeships.

External Partnerships

Industry partners have the opportunity to engage with DPS students through a variety of K-12 Career Development programs. These experiences range from a few hours spent holding a career exploration event, or hosting a high school Launch Intern for a semester or summer, to participating as a Coach Mentor to a student during an entire school year.

Should your organization like to join these efforts, please fill out this Industry Partner Interest Form. We look forward to exploring ideas and collaborating with you!

Connection to Career and Technical Education (CTE)

The CTE Department offers hundreds of career-related courses at many levels – from introductory to college level classes. With a particular focus on Colorado’s most in demand industries, students gain a head start on their personalized career paths in Colorado’s ten career clusters and twenty-three distinct pathways.

The Career Development Team compliments CTE coursework to offer aligned WBL experiences that “make learning real” for students and create greater relevance for what it is they’re learning in the classroom. In some cases, students might start by exploring their interests through WBL and eventually enroll in a CTE course to deepen their understanding.

If you are interested in learning more, students/family members should work with their school navigator or contact and turn these early sparks of interest into exciting opportunities.

Traits of a Young Professional

It is critical that students develop the following Traits of a Young Professional as these are the essential skills for any high performing, contributing member of the workforce. Through their participation in Career Development programs, students will have opportunities to hone these skills in real and relevant ways.

Click on the traits to learn more!


  • Intern demonstrates awareness of and navigates emotional reaction(s) to difficult situation(s).
  • Receives feedback from supervisor and staff with a growth mindset and applies input for continuous improvement.


  • Seeks out new opportunities and initiates tasks. Asks for support as needed.
  • Strives to do their best and takes pride in their work.

Personal Responsibility

  • Dresses according to the company policies.
  • Manages workplace responsibilities with minimal supervision.
  • Puts in best effort to resolve conflict effectively.


  • Perseveres even when a task is challenging.
  • Demonstrates ability to focus on what needs to be accomplished.
  • Asks for guidance when not all the information is available or when clarification is needed.


  • Considers the viewpoints of supervisor and others when working on a task.
  • Develops workable and creative solutions using a flexible mindset.

Time Management

  • Is punctual and communicates when life’s obligations present challenges.
  • Prioritizes and accomplishes multiple projects and responsibilities.

Career Awareness

  • Explores and/or inquires about career opportunities, especially those associated with the internship experience.

Info Literacy

  • When gathering information, intern uses a variety of sources and considers their validity.

Use of Info Technologies

  • Utilizes technology to find, communicate and create information.
  • Uses technology (cell phone, computer) appropriately. Knows and follows cybersecurity guidelines.


  • Advocates for needs and communicates goals/aspirations within the internship context.
  • Demonstrates the ability to be a proactive learner by asking relevant questions.


  • Exhibits leadership traits during internship (ex. intern willing to voice opinion or share ideas).

Critical Thinking

  • When encountering a challenge, applies critical thinking skills to generate solutions.

Creativity and Innovation

  • Demonstrates creativity and curiosity.

Risk Taking

  • Takes on new challenges and learns from mistakes.

Strategic Planning

  • Takes steps to create an outline or blueprint for completing tasks and organizational success

Professional Problem Solving Skills

  • Identifying barriers to success and troubleshooting possible solutions

Collaboration and Teamwork

  • Utilizes expertise of other professionals for internships assignments, when needed.
  • Shows an openness to learn from and collaborate with others on the team.


  • Applies effective oral, written and digital communication skills that meet the needs of specific audiences.

Global and Cultural Awareness

  • Intern is mindful of people’s varying knowledge, experiences and perspectives (cultural/global), as they engage in their work.

Civic Engagement

  • Knows the company or organization’s mission.


  • Uses honesty and integrity when making decisions and choices related to the internship.

Work-Based Learning opportunities in DPS

Work-based learning is your chance to discover things you can’t learn in a classroom. Get inside information about the career you’re interested in, or simply get a taste of what it’s really like on the job.

Interested in learning more about what’s available in the school(s) where your child(ren) attends?  Please contact our Career Development Team at

Click the icons for more details

Spark Program

Xplore Program

Chat Career Conversations

Coach Mentoring Program

Launch Internships

Youth Apprenticeships


Interested in learning more about what’s available in the school(s) where your child(ren) attends? Please contact the Career Development Team at