March 2023 Newsletter

March 2023 Newsletter

The fall 2023 internship application portal is NOW OPEN!

This opportunity to gain experience, make connections, and get ahead of the curve is open to students in grades 10 and 11. Internships are 45 – 90 hours in length and students may be able to earn high school credit. Learn More.


Volunteers Needed for Financial Literacy FairVolunteers Needed for Financial Literacy Fair

Workplace Learning Connection’s Financial Literacy Fair helps eighth grade students learn about the basics of budgeting and financial well-being. WLC collaborates with area middle schools to host this hands-on learning experience with the support of hundreds of community volunteers. Students work within a budget and pick out their careers, housing, cars, insurance, extras, and so much more.

To support this event, we are looking for community volunteers! Last year 436 volunteers donated 1,400 hours of their time to help us put on this great event. Come engage with middle school students and help them learn valuable life skills. Financial expertise is not required. Everything you need to volunteer will be provided.

Past FLF volunteer Mark Ousley, quality assurance and regulatory affairs manager at Lil’ Drug Store Products, said this about his experience volunteering for the event: “I truly enjoy the Financial Literacy Fair and think it is a critical event to help the younger generation get a taste of what lies ahead. I believe that education of the next generation is of the utmost importance. They are our future leaders and the ones we will rely on in the very near future. Children never choose where they live or the situation they were born into. All children deserve a chance at a good education and a good future.”

WLC will host over 5,400 eighth grade students from Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Jones, Johnson, Linn, and Washington counties. This year’s fairs will be held April 13 in Iowa County, April 14 in Washington County, April 17 – 21 in Johnson County, and May 8 – 12 and May 15 – 19 in Linn County.

We wouldn’t be able to provide this opportunity to our students without support from our community! Click here to sign up to volunteer, or contact Cheryl Valenta with questions at


Student Editorial: Using My Internship to Prepare for My Dream CareerStudent Editorial

My name is Brendan Schnoebelen and I attend Highland High School in Riverside, Iowa. I plan on attending Kirkwood Community College after high school to finish an associate of arts degree. After Kirkwood, I plan to transfer to the University of Iowa to major in Journalism or Communications, and hopefully get the opportunity to work at The Daily Iowan. My career goal is to work at an internationally known sports media company like ESPN, Fox Sports, CBS Sports, the Big Ten Network, etc.

I decided to pursue an internship when I was looking to fill out a class schedule for my senior year when a friend recommended an internship through Workplace Learning Connection. They knew someone that had done an internship, and I had already done a job shadow through Workplace Learning Connection for KGAN-TV in Cedar Rapids over Zoom during my junior year. I thought an internship would give me more clarity [to see] if I really wanted to go into journalism for a career. The experience has been very beneficial for me. So far, I have been able to cover a Highland wrestling meet, my speech team’s large group district event in Monticello, a high school awards ceremony, profile a member of Highland’s boys basketball team, and much more.

My internship has provided me with a larger number of contacts and references that can vouch for my skills and workmanship. I have been able to connect with them well because of the passion that I have for writing and covering local schools and their sports teams. I have also gotten critical feedback on my stories. I have received great reviews from both the news editor and sports editor on all of the stories I have done. Not only does this tell me what I am doing well, but feedback will always improve my writing, and I know that I am getting quality feedback. I get a strong feeling that they are training me to become a great writer later in my life.

Once my internship is on my high school transcript, my future self will benefit the most from my time at The News. If a company like ESPN will even consider hiring me in the future, then I would want as many of these businesses on my resume as possible. Knowing that I have extensive experience in the field of journalism will only benefit me down the road.

Kirkwood’s Workplace Learning Connection is an awesome resource for those that want to explore their future job or career of interest in a hands-on manner. I would highly recommend an internship to those that want more clarity about their potential future career path like I did, or for those that want to learn more about their dream job from someone that currently works in that career.


Where Are They Now: Hailey Freeze’s Passion for Nursing Comes Full CircleWhere Are They Now

Hailey Freeze, a former Kennedy High School and WLC student, was recently hired as a nurse in the Neonatal Intensive Care (NICU) and Pediatrics Unit at UnityPoint Health - St Luke’s Hospital. Hailey got her start at St. Luke’s through a WLC Nurse Practitioner Internship in the spring of 2018.

“When I was in high school I wasn't exactly sure what career I wanted to pursue beyond college,” Hailey says. “I knew I wanted to do something healthcare related, but I didn't know the exact route. I started taking advantage of Workplace Learning Connection programs to explore different options. I did a job shadow with an optometrist my sophomore year and another one the following year with a nurse. Those experiences directed me towards pursuing a career in nursing.”

With her newfound direction, Hailey applied for a nurse practitioner internship through WLC and was placed at UnityPoint Health - St Luke’s Hospital. “I went into the internship wanting confirmation that nursing was the path for me. I was really fortunate to be paired with three outstanding nurse practitioners who really wanted to answer my questions. One of the nurses was a nurse practitioner in the NICU and I fell in love with the unit after only a few hours. I knew immediately that I wanted to learn how to care for these babies and develop relationships with their families. It is very stressful for parents to have a baby in the NICU, no matter how long their stay is. I remember watching the nurse practitioner take a few extra minutes to sit down with a family and walk them step-by-step through their child’s plan of care to reduce their nerves. I got to observe a couple of procedures and was even able to spend some time in our small baby pod, which is for babies born under 30 weeks’ gestation. Watching the nurses do care on a baby that small made quite an impression on me. I just knew that's where I wanted to be,” Hailey says.

Hailey went to Coe College and graduated with her BSN in spring 2022. She has spent the last several months training in the NICU but will soon begin orienting to Pediatrics. “I feel really lucky that I was able to start out in such a specialized area. Our floor is unique because staff are cross-trained in both neonatal and pediatric populations,” Hailey says. “Because of my WLC internship at St. Luke’s in high school, I was able to land a semester-long internship (preceptorship) in the St. Luke’s NICU unit while in my senior year at Coe. I don’t think I would have been able to get that particular preceptorship without my high school internship experience, and I definitely would not be in my current role without that senior year preceptorship. Workplace Learning Connection was an important steppingstone in my nursing journey. They gave me my first taste into the area that I’m working in and I am so grateful. I obviously love it!”

As for the future, Hailey is keeping her options open. She may consider additional schooling down the road, but right now she is loving her current position.

Rayser Holdings has been a huge supporter of our programming and regularly hosts internships and job shadows in addition to being heavily involved in our mock interview program. Over the last two years they have hosted four interns and six job shadow students for us and volunteered for 10 mock interview events. We are so appreciative of their support of work-based learning!

“Rayser Holdings is proud to help open new doors for Corridor-area students through our partnership with Workplace Learning Connection,” says Kala Liebe, human resources manager at Rayser Holdings. “We see the value the WLC programs provide for young people, allowing them to discover new career paths and hone their skills, helping them to step strongly into their futures. It has also been a tremendous opportunity for our diverse group of employee-owners to engage within the community and share their experience and expertise with the next generation.”

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

Rayser Holdings