April 2024 Newsletter

April 2024 Newsletter

National Volunteer Appreciation Week is April 21 – 27, and WLC wants to thank all of our amazing businesses and volunteers. It is because of our partners that we are able to provide quality career awareness, career exploration, and work-based learning experiences to area students. This year alone, our partners volunteered over 25,000 hours to help support job shadows, internships, and career exploration events.


Washington Community High School Student Explores It All!

Mikaila Matheson, a senior at Washington Community High School in Washington, has taken full advantage of the Workplace Learning Connection Job Shadow Program. Over the last year and a half, Mikaila has attended five WLC job shadows, exploring a wide range of career fields. She was able to explore careers in pharmacy, pathology, music therapy, mental health, and engineering.

“I signed up for job shadows because I have no clue what I want to go to college for. I enjoy a plethora of different subjects, so it has been hard to decide, causing me to be very indecisive,” says Mikaila.Mikaila Matheson

Being able to get a first-hand glimpse of careers through job shadowing has helped alleviate some of that stress. “It was ideal to go through WLC because everything was already organized and it wasn’t an extra cost that I had to worry about. It gave me opportunities that I wouldn’t have even thought about on my own,” Mikaila says. “These job shadows provide a hands-on view of what these careers entail. We got to interact with people in the field and get a glimpse at what their life with that job was like. I think most importantly, it helped me see which career fields weren’t for me!”

In the fall, Mikaila plans to attend the University of Iowa with an open major. “I am accepted into the School of Music to possibly pursue a music major along with something else that isn’t determined as of right now; maybe something in STEM. Through WLC I am a step closer to figuring out what I’d like to pursue in the future without as much uncertainty,” says Mikaila. “I am very grateful that I was given these opportunities and I would recommend to my classmates that they do job shadows.

“Job shadowing is made easy and efficient through WLC,” Mikaila continues. “All you have to do is browse the many options, pick one that sounds interesting, and you’re pretty much set. These job shadow days do a great job of giving you a sneak peek of what your future could be. It’s one day, so you don’t even have to dedicate a huge chunk of time. It is fun to learn about a variety of jobs and meet the many great people behind them.”

Former WLC Student Transitions to Life at Kirkwood

Isaac Stark, a 2023 Linn-Mar High School graduate, completed four WLC job shadows and an internship while in high school to help him decide what he wanted to do in the future. His experiences led him to the engineering field and the Pre-Engineering program at Kirkwood Community College.

Hear from Isaac on the impact of his WLC experiences:

1. What job shadows and internship did you complete through WLC?

  • Exploring Engineering, a virtual job shadow with HR Green
  •  Automation, Engineering, and Technology Day
  • Engineering and Machining Careers in Advanced Manufacturing at Metal Design Systems
  • A summer internship with the Linn County Secondary Road Department for Civil Engineering
  • A diesel mechanic shadow with Don Hummer Trucking

2. What impact did your job shadow and internship experiences have on you?

My job shadows and my internship helped me better understand what job opportunities are available in our community and what those jobs are like. In turn, that helped me decide what job I wanted to have in the future and what I wanted to study in college. Additionally, I think my internship helped me begin to learn how to act and work in a professional environment, since I had not done that before.Isaac Stark WLC intern at Linn County Secondary Roads

3. How did your WLC experiences influence your studies or future career plans?

For most of high school I knew I wanted to go into a technical career field, but I did not know whether I wanted to do something in engineering or the trades. Seeing a variety of jobs through job shadows and internships, as well as some of my own life experiences, led me to eventually decide to go to school for engineering. It also helped me choose what kind of engineering I wanted to go into.

4. Did WLC job shadows and internships give you a competitive advantage as you pursued your future plans?

I ended up deciding to go to Kirkwood for their Pre-Engineering program and I plan to transfer to Iowa State for Mechanical Engineering. Usually, freshmen and sophomores in college, especially those at community colleges like Kirkwood, have difficulty getting summer internships. But during my job shadow with Metal Design Systems, their lead designer mentioned that they hire summer interns and gave me his email if I wanted to apply. Because I had met him previously at my job shadow and did not have to go through an HR department, I was able to get an interview and I now have a summer internship lined up with them for this summer.

5. How has the transition to Kirkwood been?

Going to Kirkwood hasn’t really been a major adjustment from high school. The classes are more challenging and structured differently, so that is different, but the class sizes are about the same as they were in high school, so it is still easy to ask the professors questions during or after class. Also, since the professors do not have research or many other commitments outside of teaching, they usually have more time to help you outside of class.

6. Why should current high school students consider exploring careers through job shadows and internships?

Most high schoolers have no clue what they want to do after high school. While classes in high school try to help you explore future careers, most of them only go as far as having you read job descriptions on a computer. In my opinion, the only way to truly decide if a career is right is to go out and see people doing it, and that is what internships and job shadows allow you to do. Whether you get a 2-year degree or a 4-year degree from college, it is a major investment of time and money. Doing job shadows and internships will give you more confidence in your decision to go to school and will make you more likely to be satisfied with your chosen career field once you get out of school.

7. Any other pieces of advice for current high school students?

Networking is one thing that was talked about during the internship classroom sessions, and I have found it to be important when applying for both internships and retail or service industry jobs. I have probably applied for around 30 different jobs or internships by this point, and I never heard back from about half of them. Modern computer hiring systems make it difficult to get your resume in front of a real person, so getting to know people who work there or doing walk-in interviews can be about the only way to actually get through their system and get an interview.

Tipton Veterinary Services: Helping Build the Future of the Veterinary Profession

Tipton High School student interns at Tipton Vet Services

Tipton High School senior Ashlyn Voss completed a WLC internship with Tipton Veterinary Services this semester. “Ashlyn was a joy to have in the clinic with us,” says Kelsie Dugan, a veterinary technician at the clinic. “She came every day with a good attitude and was very willing to learn. She did any task we asked of her with a smile on her face. When we host WLC interns, I enjoy seeing them learn and grow throughout their time with us. You can tell when a student is serious about this potentially being their future career.”

Tipton Veterinary Services has been partnering with WLC for over 10 years, and we are so grateful for their partnership. When we asked Kelsie how engaging with our programming benefits their clinic she said, “When we host students it allows us to not only give back to our community, but also give back to our profession. When we nurture these students’ love of animals and science it helps continue to promote great future veterinarians, veterinary technicians, or veterinary assistants!”

WLC has been working with Matt McCall Insurance Agency in Tipton for many years. This spring Matt and team are hosting a Tipton High School intern for us, and they also attended our Cedar County High School Career Fair in March. We are grateful for their partnership!

“We have had the opportunity to work with numerous high school interns and we have been very impressed at the level of preparedness these young adults have when they arrive Day 1,” says Matt, owner of Matt McCall Insurance Agency Inc, State Farm Insurance. “It is rewarding to show these young adults what a career field looks like and how best to prepare for entering this career. We enjoy the energy and enthusiasm of the participants and seeing them progress in their understanding of this career field.”

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

Matt McCall Insurance Agency logo