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Writing a Job Description and Lists of Skills/Tasks. Warm-up Question. What Makes a Great Work Experience ? What was the best summer or after-school job you had as a teen/young adult? What did you learn from this job?

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Warm-up Question

  • What Makes a Great Work Experience?
    • What was the best summer or after-school job you had as a teen/young adult? What did you learn from this job?
    • What was the most unexciting or unglamorous job you have ever had?What did you learn from this job?


How can you use the Work-Based Learning Plan’s Job Description and the list of Workplace and Career Specific Skills to create high quality work experiences for youth?



One of the advantages of using the Massachusetts Work-Based Learning Plan is that it was developed and is used by a network of youth employment programs across the state. By connecting with this network and the WBLP resources, you can get ideas and inspiration for your work.



The Work-Based Learning Plan includes a job description, a list of foundation skills (pre-written) and a list of career and workplace specific skills (which you customize for the specific placement).

There are online resources to support you in writing high-quality job descriptions and identifying skills.


Job Description

The job description should be a brief description of the work, along with background about the organization.


Foundation Skills

The foundation skills, which are pre-written, describe basic professional skills required by all jobs.

This list provides a guide for orienting students to the workplace and for defining expectations.


Workplace and Career Specific Skills

The Career and Workplace Specific Skills section allows you to define specific skills for the work experience. You can list up to seven skills in this section, or focus on just a few.

Some suggestions are provided at the top of the page, or you can identify other skills.

Put the skill name in the first column of the grid (one or two words, generally) and write a brief description of tasks or performance goals in the second column.


Three Purposes…

Orientation – Setting Expectations: The job description and the list of skills/tasks are used to guide formal or informal, group or one-on-one orientation to the work experience.

Performance Review: The list of skills is used as the basis for the performance reviews that are provided at least twice during the work experience.

Reflecting: Youth may refer to the job description, skills and tasks in the future when they are developing portfolios, writing resumes and applying for jobs and colleges.

about job descriptions
About Job Descriptions

As hostess in a friendly restaurant, greet customers and seat them as soon as possible. Make them feel comfortable and welcomed. Operate cash register and clear and set tables.

  • Job descriptions should be brief, but with enough information to provide the “flavor” of the job.
  • Include details about “who, what, where and why” information in the job description.
  • The job description might mention the job title, a few words describing the organization, a brief list of tasks, and a few words about the customers or goals of the work.
job descriptions sharing background
Job Descriptions - Sharing Background

In the job descriptions, share brief information about:

- history- goals- customers - or other interesting background information about the organization and about the work.

Work as a landscaping assistant in the XYZ Park, which is a 100-year old park designed by landscape architect Harold Harrison, visited by thousands of city residents each summer. Tasks include maintaining walkways, weeding, and providing water for plants during dry periods of the summer.

job descriptions identifying projects
Job Descriptions - Identifying Projects

As a Summer Parks Intern, assist Parks Department staff in daily park maintenance and special projects. Park maintenance tasks include weeding, watering plants and maintaining walkways. Special projects may include preparing the soil for a new garden and working on a signage project.

Job descriptions may include both routine daily tasks and opportunities for special projects.

job descriptions project ideas
Job Descriptions - Project Ideas

Projects may provide a chance to build career awareness, try out skills, and make a longer-term contribution to the work of the organization.

As a Classroom Assistant, intern will assist with daily tasks in the classroom and will prepare and present at least one lesson plan during each semester.

As a Curatorial Intern, student will assist in the development of a new exhibit to be displayed in the museum.

workplace and career specific skills
Workplace and Career Specific Skills

The list of workplace and career specific skills can include:

Broad skills (project management, collecting and organizing information, applied math, reading);

Specific task-oriented skills (weeding, park maintenance, food preparation, filing medical records…);

Career awareness skills (career development, understanding all aspects of the industry, reading about the industry, active learning)

  • Project Management:Create a display for the Visitor Center

Food Preparation:

Student will plan, prepare and serve healthy and nutritious suppers to children.

Medical Knowledge (Animal Care)

To understand a few common medical problems/complications, in order to learn to monitor hospital patients. (Ex. signs of low blood sugar in a diabetic pet).

skills expanding on foundation skills
Skills - Expanding on Foundation Skills
  • Health and Safety: Things to know about health and safety while working outdoors include:
  • Water and hydration
  • Sun and sunscreen
  • Preventing heat stroke
  • When to seek First Aid
  • Lifting techniques
  • Use of tools, rakes, shovels
  • Handling trash
  • Understanding time management, including a healthy pace of work and taking breaks

The career and workplace specific skills should go beyond the Foundation Skills, providing a focus on more specific and higher order skills. You do not need to repeat any of the foundation skills in the workplace and career specific skills section.

However, you may want to expand on some foundation skill areas, such as health and safety awareness or confidentiality or a specific dress code for the organization, if there are particular foundation skill areas that need expansion or clarification.

skills providing context
Skills - Providing Context

Animal Care:

Intern will reassure orphaned animals thru petting, walking and talking to them. This stimulus helps maintain healthy animals.

  • Wherever possible, when describing skills, mention the goals of the work, the customer served, or other information that gives the “context” of the work.
  • Like the job descriptions, the skill descriptions are strongest when they include information about “who, what, where and why.”

Administrative Skills:

- Assist with organization of client files, copying and faxing.

- Take initiative to answer phones and direct calls appropriately.

- Provide walk-in clients with appropriate travel brochures.

skills resumes and applications
Skills - Resumes and Applications

Youth can refer to this list of skills in the future as a guide for developing portfolios, resumes or college applications.

Generally, the skills listed in the first column of the grid should be 1-3 words long and “resume-friendly” such as:

Accounting skills

Animal care

Blueprint reading

Customer service skills

Critical thinking

Data analysis


Will include screenshot and link here

what career and workplace specific skills are selected most
What Career and Workplace Specific skills are selected most?
  • Time Management
  • Collecting and Organizing Information
  • Computer Technology
  • Project Management
  • Equipment Operation
  • Teaching and Instructing
  • Leadership
  • Customer Service
  • Problem Solving
  • Understanding All Aspects of the Industry
  • Critical Thinking
  • Safety
  • Research and Analysis
  • Writing
  • Reading
  • Mathematics and Numeric Analysis
  • Creativity
  • Classroom Management
  • Career Development
  • Teamwork

Most common skills from WBLPs, July 1, 2012 through June 30, 2013.

Project Management

Collecting and Organizing Information

Teaching and Instructing

career and workplace specific skills more examples
Career and Workplace Specific Skills – More Examples
  • Web Design Principles
  • Gardening Techniques
  • Human Rights and Dignity
  • Hand Tool Nomenclature
  • Animal Care Skills
  • Project Evaluation
  • Installing Computer Software
  • Creativity and Inventiveness
  • Color Choice
  • Community Interaction

Selected examples from WBLPs, July 1, 2009 through June 30, 2010.

who writes the job description and skills tasks
Who Writes the Job Description and Skills/Tasks?

The job description and skills/tasks can be written by the employer or program staff or both in collaboration.

In some programs, the interns work with a teacher or program staff to write their job descriptions and skills/tasks.

The Online WBL Database allows staff, interns and employers to collaborate on developing a WBLP.

where can i find examples and ideas
Where Can I Find Examples and Ideas?

Ideas for writing are available in several places:

In the Online WBL Database in the bank of sample job descriptions and skills/tasks

Online in articles in the resource pages at http://

From the employer from written job postings, job descriptions, company profiles, websites or other materials

Definitions of many of the skills are available in the “youth” PowerPoint in this series

youth development concepts
Youth Development Concepts

Consider youth development concepts when designing youth employment experiences.

Teens and young adults are generally in a period of rapid growth in areas such as creative and critical thinking, problem solving, communication, interpersonal skills and technology skills and more…

youth development concepts24
Youth Development Concepts

….while also needing guidance as they develop basic foundation skills as they enter professional workplaces for the first time.

youth development concepts25
Youth Development Concepts

Youth development theory emphasizes assets rather than deficits. It makes the point that too many social programs today are “deficit-based” and focus attention on deficits and risk factors in the lives of youth and their communities. (i.e., focusing on lack of opportunities, lack of work skills, or on summer jobs as a way of “keeping kids off the streets.”)

But youth employment programs are especially well-positioned to be “asset-based,” emphasizing the positive impact of work experience as an opportunity for youth to develop skills, gain experience, explore career options, build resumes, and contribute to the work of the organization and the community.

youth development concepts26
Youth Development Concepts

Youth development theory suggests some important ideas about job design, suggesting that a diverse blend of tasks, skills and responsibilities make the best work experiences.

The exact mix of tasks and skills used will depend on the type of job, length of the placement, pay status (paid, unpaid, etc.), and other factors.

But in all cases, the work experience can blend special projects and routine daily tasks, and blend opportunities to explore both high level career skills and basic foundation skills.

job design for paid and unpaid experiences
Job Design for Paid and Unpaid Experiences

In unpaid internships, in lieu of pay, employers are required by law to provide an equivalent value of supervision, mentoring and training as compensation for the work done by the intern.

In paid experiences, employers are encouraged to provide a blend of tasks and opportunities, so that the experience provides opportunities for both learning and productivity.

building learning and productivity
Building Learning and Productivity

When you are designing a work experience, think about what the youth can do during the work experience both to productively contribute to the work of the organization and to have a rich learning experience.

supporting skill development
Supporting Skill Development

Think about how the youth can be supported in developing and practicing the basic foundation skills needed in the workplace while also exercising higher order, technical, academic and career-related skills.

where to look for examples and ideas

2.) In the resource pages at http:// look for the article on “Characteristics of Quality Youth Employment Programs.” This article describes real examples of work experiences, with examples of skills and tasks.

Where to Look for Examples and Ideas

1.) While using the online WBLP, look for the navigation buttons for “Bank of Sample Job Descriptions” and “Bank of Sample Skills/Tasks.” You can click on the examples, copy into the WBLP you are writing, and modify as needed.

3.) Read the Skills Pages Youth Employment Blog at http:// for articles about workplace skills. There are articles about leadership, problem solving, time management, customer service, active learning, health and safety, creativity, critical thinking, and other workplace skills.

what makes a great work experience
What Makes a Great Work Experience?



Thinking about the warm-up questions….what do you think makes a great work experience?

what makes a great work experience32
What Makes a Great Work Experience?

Sense of accomplishment

Interesting challenges (customers, technology, etc.)

Formal and informal mentoring conversations

Image of the job



An awareness of what you learned and what you accomplished

Building relationships

Getting a glimpse of what you want (or don’t want) in the future

Feeling like part of a community.

Building a resume

Some of the elements of a quality work experience