January 2022 Newsletter

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January 2022 Newsletter

Reminder! The winter/spring 2022 job shadow application portal and the summer 2022 internship portal are now open.


STEAM Institute: Expanding Participation and STEAM Career Awareness

Students participating in a STEAM InstituteAfter transitioning last year’s STEAM Institute to a virtual format due to the pandemic, we are excited to be back in person this year! This Workplace Learning Connection (WLC) event gives area seventh grade students the opportunity to explore careers and pathways within the STEAM fields — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math. Through engaging, hands-on presentations led by area professionals, students are able to explore career fields, get a glimpse into the world of work, explore local opportunities, connect classroom learning to real-world jobs, and start the conversation about career self-discovery.

Over the last few months, WLC has hosted three STEAM Institute events: one in Johnson County, one in Linn County, and new this year, a Washington County STEAM Institute event. Over 5,150 students from 48 different middle schools participated in these three events. Austin Luke, a student from Southeast Junior High School, said this about his STEAM Institute experience: “I enjoyed my time at STEAM. It taught me stuff I never knew before that I will probably use later on in life. And it could help me narrow down my career choices. It was fun to see real-world things.”

STEAM Institute has continued to expand year after year. We were so excited to be able to bring this event to Washington County students as well. “By increasing the number of STEAM Institute locations, we are able to highlight local careers by making the event more accessible to local business participation,” said WLC Director Kristine Bullock. “We are excited to show students that there are many exciting STEAM opportunities in our rural communities.”

We are honored to be able to provide this opportunity to area students. Thank you to the 85 amazing local businesses who stepped up to share their careers with our students. We couldn’t offer this event without your support!

Involvement in Kirkwood’s High School Programming Leads Student to Kirkwood Enrollment

WLC Student at her internship at Monticello Veterinary ClinicGrace Lubben is a current Kirkwood Community College student-athlete who plays softball and is studying to get her Associate of Science degree. She graduated from Anamosa High School last May. While in high school, Grace took advantage of many of the Kirkwood programs targeted toward helping high school students prepare for their lives after graduation. Grace completed two WLC internships at Monticello Veterinary Clinic and completed the Liberal Arts Career Academy program at the Kirkwood Jones County Regional Center. Both of these programs helped her define her college plans and opened her eyes to the opportunities available at Kirkwood Community College.

“I’ve always known that I wanted to do something in the animal industry, but my WLC internships with the Monticello Vet Clinic totally confirmed that for me. I went there and I was like, this is so fun, this is exactly what I want to do. I had always planned on going to Iowa State right after graduation, but then COVID happened and changed my plans. Through my engagement with Kirkwood through the internships and the academy classes I was taking, I realized Kirkwood has all the same courses as Iowa State, just for a lot cheaper, and I can get a scholarship to play softball. It all made me take a second look. I also already had 36 college credit hours from my academy courses I took in high school, so I was well on my way already to completing my Associate of Science degree.”

Through her internship experiences, Grace got to see numerous surgeries, go on farm calls, help with vaccinations, and even help with the birthing of calves. “I loved my internships; they were really awesome. My favorite part was getting to pull a calf almost all by myself. But even beyond all the great experiences in the internship itself, the prep sessions you do with Workplace Learning Connection staff with the workbook and resume and cover letter discussions, [those] helped me out just as much. I had never filled out a resume before that.” In fact, Grace made such a connection with her internship coordinator, Laura Miner, that last fall she reached out to Laura for help building her resume and cover letter. “It was so nice to have her to reach out to. Laura is awesome and has helped me out a lot. We went back and forth for several weeks working on my resume and cover letter. She gave me examples to follow and pointers on how to write them. Thanks to my good resume and cover letter, I have an internship next summer at the Anamosa Veterinary Clinic!”

We are so proud of Grace for her motivation and drive, and we wish her the best of luck! After receiving her Associate of Science degree from Kirkwood, Grace plans to transfer to Iowa State to major in veterinary or animal science.

High School Students can Earn College Credit While in High School — FOR FREE!

Photo of female student in her welding academy classPreparing and planning for life after high school is a key element of a student’s high school career. One of the ways students can do this is by earning college credit for free while they’re still in high school.

One of the most popular ways area high school students can do this is through our Career Academy programs. Career Academies are collections of courses focused on specific careers or areas of interest. Credits earned in academy courses count toward a student’s high school diploma AND their future college degree. Career Academies are offered at Kirkwood Regional Center locations. High school students are also able to participate in Kirkwood dual-credit coursework on-site at their high school or online.

Whether a student plans to obtain a 4-year degree, 2-year degree, or specialized training after graduation, there are course options for everyone. Career Academy experiences are designed to allow students to explore a career and participate in hands-on coursework that can lead to industry-recognized certification and jump-start their post high school educational path.

Students have access to these opportunities through the state’s Senior Year Plus (SYP) legislation, enacted in 2008. School districts are provided with a variety of options to enhance students’ high school experiences. SYP was created to provide increased and equal access to college credit courses, help bridge the gap between high school and college, and reduce student debt.

Why should high school students consider taking simultaneous high school and college credit courses?

  • Big Cost Savings. Dual-enrolled students earn both high school and college credit at NO COST to them or their families! In the 2020 – ’21 school year, students in our seven-county service area saved $7,134,480 in tuition!
  • Gain Real-World Experience. Students are able to experience hands-on, real-world scenarios. In some academies, students can even earn industry-recognized certifications for immediate employment opportunities.
  • The Proof Is in the Numbers. According to a recent Iowa State University study, students entering college with prior college credit:
    • Have higher grade point averages (their first semester and year)
    • Have higher graduation rates
    • Graduate in less time than students without prior college credit
    • Change majors less often than students without prior college credit

Interested in learning more about Career Academy programs?

  • Meet with your high school counselor to ensure you are eligible for CCHS programming and are on track for meeting all high school coursework requirements.
  • Check out a list of Career Academy options and locations available.
  • Registration for the 2022 – ’23 academic year will open in February 2022.

Additional questions? Fill out this interest form and your local regional center coordinator will reach out to discuss all the opportunities available.

Infrastructure Technology Solutions (ITS) in Jones County is one of our pivotal partners in the technology industry helping students explore a variety of IT careers. The team at ITS participates in every opportunity we send their way — speaking events, tours, job shadows, and internships. We have a lot of students interested in careers in technology, so we are extremely fortunate to have such a great local partner doing amazing work right here in Iowa.

“We have enjoyed working with Workplace Learning Connection and area schools to give students a glance at various technology needs and career opportunities within our region,” said Leslie Althoff, director of marketing, K – 12 account manager at ITS. “A variety of programming options help students explore career paths as they progress through school and develop plans for their future, and it is fun to work with students at each of these levels of exploration. Technology is a rapidly changing field and presents a lot of unique career paths, and workers are truly in high demand. We like showing students that they can develop and utilize a high-tech skill set while still working and living in eastern Iowa.”

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

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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