April 2022 Newsletter

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April 2022 Newsletter

We are still looking for more businesses who are willing to host summer interns. Connect with tomorrow’s workforce while helping students prepare for their futures.

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Student Editorial: Maura Levi — The Value of My Internship

My name is Maura Levi, and as a senior at Prairie High School, I have no clue what I want to be when I grow up. My dad jokes that even at 48, he still doesn’t know what he wants to be when he grows up either. Throughout high school, I joined clubs, took classes, and even did job shadows hoping that one might hint at a possible dream job I had never considered before. They didn’t. I thought about business after spending time in Business Professionals of America, or a field related to management through the leadership skills I honed as National Honor Society president. However, nothing stuck out as something I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Until I did my internship.

Prairie High School intern, Maura Levi and Gazette Sports host partnerThrough Workplace Learning Connection, I interned at the Gazette as a sports content intern — a real experience of a real job, complete with collaboration, in-the-field experience, and deadlines. I’ll admit, when my school promoted internships as counting as high school credit, I jumped on the opportunity. Who wouldn’t want to substitute another random class for real-world experience? My internship challenged me to improve my writing skills, change my style, and produce quality work in a limited time. Adapting from five-page papers due in two weeks to 500-word articles due in two hours made things interesting.

I chose this internship because I love to write and love sports. Therefore, I was not expecting my favorite part to not be related to either of those. While the finished article is something I am definitely proud of, my favorite part was interviewing and talking to athletes and coaches. I loved hearing the stories that sparked their passion.

After having six published articles and a byline in the newspaper without any prior training in the field, I know I am capable — capable of handling anything thrown my way. Capable of collaborating with others to get things done on time. Capable of pursuing a career in sports journalism. Through my meetings with WLC, I learned more about myself and how to use my skills in a career.

Being able to balance passion with a profession made me realize how lucky I am that my internship included shadows at sporting events, talking to people about their sports, and learning about the journalism structure. I found a love of sharing people’s stories for everyone to read, something that would not have been possible without this opportunity from Workplace Learning Connection. I know I will take with me all the lessons I learned and translate them into a future career. I will forever be grateful for my school, Workplace Learning Connection, and the Gazette for giving me this opportunity, and I am excited to use this experience to help shape my future.

Interested in learning more about the Workplace Learning Connection Internship Program? Visit our Internship page.

Lunch and Learn Program Returns With a Tour of In Tolerance

Pre-COVID, one of the ways we would develop relationships with businesses was through our Lunch and Learn Program. As part of the program, Workplace Learning Connection (WLC) staff would visit local businesses to learn about the work they do, the staffing and employment needs they have, and to share how businesses can get involved in our programming in order to engage with potential future employees.

In Tolerance tourLast month, WLC held a "Lunch and Learn" at In Tolerance Contract Manufacturing in Cedar Rapids, our first since the pandemic began. In Tolerance is a manufacturer of precision aerospace products that had volunteered with WLC prior to COVID-19 and began re-engaging with our programming this winter by hosting another job shadow.

Four WLC staff members toured In Tolerance’s high-tech facilities, learning about the types of products they produce, the impressive machinery they use, and the dedication of their staff. We also had the opportunity to share our wide variety of programming and brainstorm how we can work together to make students aware of In Tolerance and their offerings.

In Tolerance understands the importance of bringing students into the workplace and making them aware of the types of careers and opportunities available. In fact, two employees were initially exposed to the company through career exploration experiences at In Tolerance. Hunter Blaylock, a former Cedar Rapids Washington High School student, attended a job shadow at In Tolerance through Workplace Learning Connection in 2018 and now works there as a CNC machinist. “I have always liked metal working, so I decided to do a job shadow. Two weeks after the shadow, In Tolerance called and offered me a job. They have supported my development ever since,” says Hunter.

Through the job shadow In Tolerance hosted this semester, they are continuing to make a difference in helping students define their postsecondary path. Anthony Lee, a Prairie student who attended the shadow, said, “My job shadow at In Tolerance was pretty cool. I believe that I would like to work with CNC machines in the future to make different products. I was able to see equipment that costs up to a million dollars in action and how someone is able to program it and keep it running. More people should experience this type of visit. I think there’s a disconnect with students that don’t understand that there are great companies in Cedar Rapids that are very important for the supply chain with the rest of the world.”

Interested in scheduling a Lunch and Learn with Workplace Learning Connection to see how your business can benefit from supporting work-based learning? If so, please complete this form.

Volunteer Appreciation Week April 17 – 23

National Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 17 – 23 and WLC wants to thank all of our amazing businesses and volunteers. It is because of our partners that we are able to provide career awareness, career exploration, and work-based learning experiences to area students. This year alone, our partners volunteered over 29,000 hours to help support job shadows, internships, and career exploration events.

“The life advice given at my job shadow is valuable to my career decision-making process and college application process. The business hosts I interacted with and learned from were invested in my future. This gave value to the experience.” – Kyla Salm, Hillcrest Academy

Our businesses and volunteers truly make an impact in the lives of students like Kyla. Businesses help students discover their passions, plan for the future, and build confidence, all while helping develop Iowa’s future workforce.

Workplace Learning Connection has always had amazing support from our communities, and there is always need for more support, especially in high-interest industries such as computer programming, healthcare, research, and engineering. If you are interested in getting involved, please visit our volunteer page to learn about all of the opportunities, both in person and virtual, that are available!

This month WLC is recognizing Farm and Family Veterinary Clinic in Victor, which has been incredibly supportive of our internship program this year by hosting three interns!

“I loved how involved they let me be,” says Abigail Cronquist, a Williamsburg High School student who interned with Farm and Family this winter. “They were never bothered by me asking questions. I am grateful for them providing high school students like me the opportunity to see the good, the bad, and the ugly of being a veterinarian. Doing the internship has been one of, if not the best, decisions I have made in my entire life. I was so nervous when I started, but once I walked through the front doors I never looked back.”

Interested in hosting a student and helping develop your future workforce? Visit our Partners and Volunteers page to learn more.

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