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. Public Schools of North Carolina . . State Board of Education . . Department Of Public Instruction .


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An entrepreneurial work-based experience allows students to apply classroom learning in organizing and operation of a situation experienced as an entrepreneur. They would assume all risks in expectation of gaining profit and/or further knowledge.

School credit can NOT be earned for entrepreneurial work-based experiences (State Board Policy, GCS-I-003, June 2000). It may be possible to turn the Entrepreneurial Experience into an Internship in order to receive course credit.

Entrepreneurship includes organizing, managing and assuming the risk of a business or enterprise. In this type of work-based learning, the student owns and operates a small business.


The ultimate outcome would be to increase the level of knowledge and proficiency and to provide an opportunity for potential profit. An entrepreneurial work-based experience should be a capstone experience for a student that has developed vocational or technical skills that he/she desire to use in their personal business venture. The student may have developed the business plan for his/her business in an entrepreneurship course. The entrepreneurial experience should compliment his/her career objective.

The experience must be planned and supervised by the school and an adult mentor so that the experience contributes to the student's career objective/major and employability. Written business plans showing the business to be developed and the training opportunities to be gained must be in place prior to the experience beginning and should be updated periodically.

The experience may fulfill requirements for a senior exit project that is done to demonstrate how the student is applying the academic preparation for their future. Some vocational student organizations (VSO) allow students to gain recognition for entrepreneurial efforts. It may be a supervised occupational experience or it may be an entrepreneurial effort that is reported within the guidelines of the VSO.

The experience may be short term by concentrating on one or a small number of learning competencies or it may be a long term experience which includes additional competencies that are learned over a period of a year or more.

The experience should be planned so that there is adequate time for the effort and time to interact with a business mentor in order to maximize the benefits of the entrepreneurial experience. Some examples of entrepreneurial experiences in high schools include a gift boutique, a catering service, a placement project, a pet setting service, a shirt silk-screening service, a productive enterprise project, and a personal shopper's service.

Entrepreneurship, where the student actually possesses ownership in an enterprise, is a valuable work-based learning strategy. The student not only gains work place skills, but develops an understanding of how to actually manage a small business enterprise as he/she assume all the risks and is responsible for all decisions.


  1. Determine the goals of the learning experiences that can be accomplished through entrepreneurial experiences.

  2. Determine under what conditions a students will be allowed to organize an entrepreneurial venture to meet work-based learning requirements.
    • Will students be allowed this option or must a student's career plan indicate that he/she has been pursuing preparation to become an entrepreneur?
    • Must the student be enrolled in a complimentary course or will a school advisor be assigned to work with a student's entrepreneurial experience that may not be one of the students instructors?

  3. Determine the components of entrepreneurial experience.
    • Will the student have to develop a business plan as a part of the experience or will the student develop the business plan prior to the entrepreneurial work-based learning experience?
    • Must the business plan development come in a course such as entrepreneurship or can it be developed independently of a course?
    • Must the business plan be reviewed by a business mentor as part of the planning for the experience?
    • Must the student find a business mentor or will the school select the entrepreneurship mentor?

  4. Design a system for evaluating the experience.
    • Which partners - business mentor, school, and/or student will evaluate the experience?
    • How will students be rewarded for successful completion of the entrepreneurship experience?
    • Will a standard evaluation form be used to monitor the success of each students' entrepreneurial experience?

  5. Develop written agreement with all partners, to include but not limited to student, parents, business mentor, and the school representative.

  6. Work with the school's legal counsel to ensure that the student's experience is conducted in compliance with all legal requirements.

  7. Determine which school staff members have the broad knowledge of business and business management skills to assist students as they venture into an entrepreneurial experience.

  8. Develop the application process for interested students to follow in getting their entrepreneurial experience approved and started.
Business/Industry Field Trip
Cooperative Education
Entrepreneurial Experiences
Job Shadowing
School-Based Enterprise
Service Learning