March 2024 Newsletter

March 2024 Newsletter

The fall 2024 internship application portal is NOW OPEN! This opportunity to gain experience, make connections, and get ahead of the curve is open to current 10th and 11th grade students. Students in the internship program earn dual credit through Kirkwood Community College and their local high school. Learn More.


Volunteers 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 choose a career and use the starting salary to practice budgeting their life expenses (housing, car, insurance, etc.) at the fair.

To support this event, we are looking for community volunteers! Last year over 425 volunteers donated 1,400 hours of their time to help us put on this impactful 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. Solon Middle School student meets with financial advisor

One former student who participated in our FLF event when they were in eighth grade came back last year to be a volunteer and had this to say about her experience: “When I first came through the event as an eighth grader, I wanted to be a marine biologist. Going through the event made me realize that may not be the best career for me given my financial and life goals. The event caused me to explore different careers and I eventually decided on aerospace. I now work at Collins Aerospace, and I am working on getting my business degree. It has been great to come back now that I am 24 and see how the program has grown and developed. When I went through the experience it helped me realize how expensive things really are, so it has been enjoyable to help open students’ eyes to that fact as they are planning for their future.”

WLC will host over 4,800 students from Benton, Cedar, Iowa, Jones, Johnson, Linn, and Washington counties. This year’s fairs will be held on the following dates:

  • Washington County: April 11
  • Iowa County: April 12
  • Johnson County: April 22 – 25
  • Linn County: May 7 – 10 and May 13 – 17

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

Student Editorial: Exploring a Career as a Dental Hygienist

My name is Hannah Leonard, and I am a senior at Iowa Valley Jr-Sr High School. Last fall, Workplace Learning Connection set up an internship for me at the Williamsburg Dental Health Clinic. I signed up for a WLC internship because I wanted to know more about dental hygienists, and I wanted to watch what they do every day. Instead of doing a job shadow for only a couple of hours, I wanted to get more knowledge on the job so that I could determine if this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.Hannah Leonard senior photo

I went into the office four days a week for about an hour and a half each day. While I was there, I enjoyed getting to know the team and I learned what each person does, whether it was a hygienist or an assistant. It was helpful to see the differences. I observed all of the team members and watched how each of them worked on their clients. I got to see how the assistants make crowns and how they make them fit in the client’s mouth. I also observed how they clean dentures and what products they use.

Something that I discovered through my internship experience is how much communication happens in a dental office and the positive teamwork that they have to have. I was also surprised to see how well they know their clients. They communicate with their clients and have a great connection with them. It is a lot of relationship building.

My internship helped me get ahead of the game by showing me what I need to do to get into this career. After I graduate, I plan to attend Hawkeye Community College to major in Dental Hygiene! I think my classmates should do an internship through WLC because it will help guide their career choices. They can see what a career looks like and figure out if it is right for them. If they decide to not do an internship, they are missing out on learning more things about potential career interests.

Cedar County High School Students Explore Careers in Their Own Backyard

Earlier this month we held our annual Cedar County High School Career and Job Fair in Tipton. North Cedar, Tipton, and West Branch high schools brought 315 10th through 12th grade students to learn about local career opportunities in healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, business, engineering, the trades, and many other in-demand career fields. Twenty-three businesses participated in the fair, allowing them to make connections with talented teenagers from their local communities and hand out applications for part-time or postgraduation opportunities.

“This is a workforce where all companies need help,” said Dan Ness, Laborers Local 43. “Especially in the trades, we need employees. This fair is a great opportunity to reach students early and show them what great opportunities there are in the trades.”Students explore local jobs and careers

The career fair is the largest Cedar County event out of several events organized by WLC on an annual basis. The goal is to help students with postsecondary planning and career exploration by showing them all the opportunities that are available right in their backyards. Engaging area students plays a pivotal role in economic vitality, especially in more rural communities like Cedar County.

Now in its third year, the fair continues to evolve and grow. We continually take feedback from students and the schools to make this the most valuable experience possible. This year we incorporated military and cosmetology booths because we heard from students that those were careers we were missing in past years. “It is very important to us to listen to our students and to meet them where their needs and interests are,” said Workplace Learning Connection Coordinator Brittany Slaubaugh.

“I thought it was really helpful to learn about different job options I hadn’t thought about before,” said Caden Green, a junior at West Branch High School. “Surprisingly, I found the National Guard booth and the Tipton Police Department booth the most interesting. It gives me something to think about.”

Boomerang Corp has been a valuable partner over the last several years, helping students explore careers in construction management, welding, site work (demolition, grading, paving, utility, etc.), and business. Since 2022 they have hosted two job shadows for us, three internships, and Career Discovery Tours. They have also been involved in our Teaching for the Workforce event the last two summers. Thank you, Boomerang, for your partnership!

“Partnering with WLC has not only been rewarding for Boomerang Corp, but it holds a special place in our company’s values,” said Paige Wendt, Boomerang’s marketing and administration supervisor. “Boomerang is passionate about connecting the youth of our communities to the never-ending opportunities within the civil construction industry, and partnering with WLC helps our leaders work towards this mission. We look forward to connecting with students every time WLC presents us with an opportunity, and we can’t wait to continue to work with students to gain hands-on experience and knowledge with Boomerang and the construction field.”

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

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