August 2021 Newsletter

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August 2021 Newsletter

Educators, parents, and partners — welcome to a new school year! Here’s to hopefully getting back to a more “normal looking” year!


Fall 2021 Job Shadow Portal Now Open

Students at a Surgical Tech job shadow.

The fall 2021 job shadow application portal is now open. Job shadowing gives students the opportunity to explore careers of interest, network, and connect classroom learning to real-world opportunities. We are excited to announce that in-person job shadows are back this year! Virtual engagements will also continue to be offered as a viable option. Virtual opportunities provide a safe, equitable, and cost-effective option for career exploration.

Check out our broad array of in-person and virtual shadow opportunities. Job shadows are open to students in grades 10 through 12, and the portal closes Sept. 24 at 3 p.m. Check with your school counselor for additional details.

WLC Director Laurie Worden Retiring After 19 Years

WLC Director Laurie Worden will be retiring at the end of August. Laurie has been with WLC for 19 years and has played a pivotal role in not only growing our organization but also in expanding the intermediary model across the state.

Headshot of Laurie Worden, WLC director

Laurie started at WLC in 2002 and served as a program coordinator for over 13 years. From there she moved into the associate director role before being named WLC director at the beginning of 2017. When Laurie first came on board, WLC had a staff of seven and supported 1,429 student experiences. In the 2020 – ’21 school year alone, our staff of 14 supported 20,419 student experiences! What tremendous growth! This growth would not have been possible without Laurie.

Laurie is a positive, empathetic leader who envisions opportunity and is a driver of positive change. She has impacted the lives of thousands and thousands of students. Her leadership will be greatly missed and she will leave a large gap to fill.

“It has not only been a pleasure but a privilege to have worked with Laurie for the last 19 years,” says WLC team member Sue Neil. “We, along with awesome staff, have been able to grow this program [by] leaps and bounds. Laurie always said her ‘spiritual paycheck’ was helping youth find their passion and become successful. She came in to work every day full of enthusiasm, which was infectious. I will truly miss working with her but [am] so happy she can move on to the next adventure she has planned.”

NewBoCo Collaborative Grant Builds Futures

The New Bohemian Innovation Collaborative, along with the Cedar Rapids Community School District (CRCSD) and Workplace Learning Connection at Kirkwood Community College, were awarded grant funding through the Future Ready Iowa Innovation Fund Summer Youth Internship pilot. The grant supported IT Help Desk training scholarships for underrepresented youth from CRCSD high schools. Students prepared for high-demand IT occupations with this summer course certification at no cost to themselves or their families; they also received the technology tools, expert instruction, and resources to be successful in their training.WLC Collaborative Grant

Students in the program aimed their new skills at a capstone scenario project. Two task teams were formed and tackled the all-too-real challenge of restoring computer technology and systems to a school building damaged by a derecho and tornado. The teams presented their capstone project solutions to an audience of IT professionals, CRCSD staff and board members, grant project partners, and family members. The student teams explained their processes and choices in restoring hardware, software, security, and network supports in their scenarios.

Student Sarah Jahnke shared that in addition to learning about the many aspects of the IT Helpdesk role, she particularly enjoyed learning about new operating systems through the training experience. “I hadn’t had much exposure to the Linux operating system and I really enjoyed learning about it and look forward to learning more.”

Student Patrick Turu noted that learning all aspects of IT project management, including budget and user experience, were important lessons he took away from the training.

Students in the summer program had opportunities to learn about their own personal strengths and talents through Gallop’s CliftonStrengths assessment and professional career coaching. They also learned from multiple career presentations from area IT professionals.

The Future Ready Iowa Employer Innovation Fund is a grant opportunity for Iowa community partners to form and carry out creative solutions that address local workforce issues. Grant awardees promote credit and noncredit education and training opportunities in high-demand jobs. The fund is used in innovative ways to help Iowans achieve their training and education goals.

Creative solutions and student success were evident in the summer collaborative pilot, and the grant team looks forward to future opportunities rooted in the success of this pilot launch. “It’s a true joy to see this project come together and successfully serve youth in their pursuit of IT careers,” says WLC Director Laurie Worden. “I sense we are just getting started with this level of collaborative and innovative programming. Workplace Learning Connection looks forward to the growth and expansion of programs like this in the coming years.”

Summer is our busiest season for internship requests. To meet the demand this year, we needed to bring on new business partners willing to host student interns and encourage existing partners to expand internship opportunities. The City of Iowa City is one partner who eagerly stepped up to host two interns this summer. THANK YOU, City of Iowa City!

“The City of Iowa City is proud to partner on the Workplace Learning Connection’s internship program,” says Geoff Fruin, city manager, City of Iowa City. “Helping students explore career paths is a rewarding experience that is also a meaningful investment in our workforce. The students bring a fresh, new perspective and eagerness to learn that immediately energizes and motivates our teams."

“We strongly encourage all employers to explore participation in this program,” he continued. “Showing students the breadth of career opportunities in the ICR region is absolutely key to growing tomorrow’s workforce.”

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

City of Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature

Contact WLC

Linn County Regional Center
1770 Boyson Rd., Hiawatha, Iowa 52233
Phone: 319-398-1040  
Fax: 319-398-1041 

Kirkwood Regional Center at the University of Iowa
2301 Oakdale Blvd., Coralville, Iowa 52241
Phone: 319-887-3970  
Fax: 319-358-3102