Introducing Structured Learning Experinces (SLE) From HTHS DFAB

Structured Learning Experiences (SLEs) provide high school seniors the opportunity to learn professional skills in a relevant work setting. Here’s how it works, and why we think it will give our students–and your company–an advantage.

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The SLE entails a qualified, interested high school senior allocating an appropriate amount of time per week at a place of business, learning about how to succeed in that industry. To satisfy both the student’s and business partner’s needs, there are several options for how an SLE can be structured, including job shadowing, paid and unpaid internships, part-time employment, or independent studies. From the student’s perspective, the goal of an SLE is to gain industry-relevant knowledge that will prepare them for life as a professional.

College educations are increasingly oriented towards work skills. Today’s most competitive college graduates are prepared to effectively contribute on their first day of work. Therefore, today’s high school students need to compete academically and vocationally in order to gain entry into these institutions. In order for our students to have the most competitive credentials, they need relevant work experience in an industry setting.

Local business partners gain an advantage as they develop a professional rapport with some of Hudson County’s brightest students while also demonstrating a philanthropic interest in the community. The same pupils who spend part of their senior year learning from you may soon be the competitive candidate who is looking to return to the place where their desire to work in that industry was first inspired.

Job Shadowing

Job shadowing experiences will take place on-site at least one day per week. Job shadowing should provide the student with an understanding of the skills and traits needed to be successful in this industry. Students may, or may not, be included in a current project but should be given tasks that are relevant to the field and not simply clerical.

Throughout the job shadowing experience students are expected to:

  • arrive on time;
  • preform their responsibilities to the best of their ability;
  • work with a site–based mentor

Site–based mentors will:

  • cultivate students’ understanding of the position;
  • situate their role within the larger company and attending industry.


Internships comprise part-time, full-time, summer-length or some combination thereof as determined by the student and industry partner. Internships require, at a minimum:

  • Daily on-site attendance by the student.
  • Sufficient student training for any relevant on-site projects.
  • An on-site mentor who will guide the student’s knowledge in the field.

The work of an intern should include:

  • participation in existing or developing projects;
  • engaging with and growing existing skillsets;
  • preparation for success in the college classroom and beyond.

Interns can expect to be:

  • trained according to their time spent on site;
  • aligned with a site-based mentor;
  • assigned a reasonable amount of work commensurate with their interests and experiences.

Part-Time Employment

Part-time employment aligns to existing expectations and standards required by the New Jersey Department of Labor. Part-time Employment may entail:

  • Students working on-site for up to thirty hours per week.
  • Students are paid a fair wage for their work.
  • Work may take place during the evenings or on weekends, in addition to weekday responsibilities.

Part-time employment for SLE credits will require students to demonstrate learning in the field. As such, part-time employment should ideally extend beyond basic job responsibilities to include a challenge component that will help the students focus, and share, their learning experience.

Independent Study

Independent Study can be designed to suit the needs of both students or industry partners with unique needs. Independent Study offers flexibility in order to provide students and partners with extenuating circumstances to go beyond existing models of SLE conceptions to push at the boundaries of what is possible for student learning. Ideally, an Independent Study may entail:

  • Rigorous on-site training.
  • Significant investment of student time.
  • Student and partner ownership of a unique, on-going project.
  • An academic component that supports in-class CTE or academic learning.