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Kristy Volesky

Work-Based Learning Consultant ​at Iowa Department of Education


Designing a Sustainable Work-Based Learning System

Work-based learning generates valuable connections for students to make informed decisions about courses, programs, and careers. As work-based learning expands with your educational institution, developing a sustainable system to support quality work-based learning is increasingly important. Thoughtful planning leads to valuable student learning, stronger connections to your community and a network of supported educators and instructors. Implement the three step approach to designing a sustainable work-based learning system to increase quality experiences for all students at your educational institution.

About Me

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Audience and Lecturer


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Work-Based Learning

Even when the US economy is humming along, it contains a strange paradox. Employers have a hard time finding workers, yet simultaneously many workers have a hard time finding appropriate employment. WBL helps learners enter and succeed in their first or next career, yet it remains a tiny percentage of our student experience. We’re proud to feature the most dynamic and sought-after speakers who are true Industry Thought Leaders at the forefront of career-connected learning.

It is time to solve our workforce paradox once and for all.

Getting to Know Kristy



What was your first job? What did you learn from it?

My first job experience was walking fields to rogue corn and pull weeds for a local farmer owning a lot of land. I worked alongside several other teenagers each morning for six weeks. I learned that although I enjoyed being outdoors, I did not care for this type of work. I finished the short, summer work season and found something different the following summer.


What sparked your interest in work-based learning?

I had the opportunity to transform a local work experience program into a highly engaging internship program that revolutionized student learning and local business engagement. When the opportunity arose to support rapid expansion of this similar concept across the state, I leapt at the opportunity. I saw first hand the value of quality work- based learning as well as the support many schools and colleges needed to make the transformation. I strive to support students, educational staff and business professionals to improve opportunities that extend student learning. I am motivated to support the expansion of quality work-based learning as an important educational and community engagement strategy.


What missteps would you caution others to avoid as they work to promote or develop work-based learning opportunities?

The greatest misstep I see are educational institutions and business partners focusing on quantity over quality. Quality needs to come first in order to ensure the work-based learning experience is sustainable. Another common misstep is isolating work-based learning by relying on one individual to carry out the work. Without a team involved, work-based learning expansion will be limited and could become too overwhelming for the individual.

“Everything that happens to you is a form of instruction if you pay attention“.

Robert Greene (Mastery)

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