September 2023 Newsletter

September 2023 Newsletter


Eighty-nine percent of WLC job shadow hosts say their hosting experience was a valuable use of their time! Interested in learning about how you can get involved and help students explore careers in your industry? Visit our Partners and Volunteers page to learn more.

Winter/Spring 2024 Internship Portal Opens Sept. 25

We had another successful (and busy) summer of internships! Over two hundredWinter/Spring 2024 Internship Portal Opens Sept. 25  students across all seven counties got the opportunity to complete internships with area businesses to explore potential careers of interest. Students also met regularly with our internship coordinators to learn key employability and career development skills. 

Some of the biggest benefits of the internship program include: 

  • Learning about a field before committing to it. Students get an inside look at jobs in their field of interest and can determine if it’s a good fit for them.
  • Earning high school and college credit while exploring a potential career. This can help students make decisions about their high school coursework and postsecondary education or training plans.
  • Enhancing their credentials. Career experience helps enhance students’ college, scholarship, and job applications.
  • Gaining networking opportunities. Internships allow students to meet people at all levels of a company, and those connections can be valuable in the future.
  • Experiencing the working world firsthand. Students learn what it’s like to have a job in their career of interest, what the work environment is like, and what kind of schedule they could expect in that field.

The winter/spring 2024 internship application window is open from September 25 to November 3 at 3 p.m. Applications are open to current high school juniors and seniors. To learn more about program details and requirements, click here


WLC Selected as Career Z Challenge Semifinalist

Last spring, schools, nonprofit organizations, and local educational agencies inWLC Selected as Career Z Challenge Semifinalist urban and rural communities were invited to submit proposals for the federal Career Z Challenge. The proposals outlined plans to engage collaborative and sustainable work-based learning ecosystems to provide students with interconnected and expansive career development opportunities across grades nine through 12. Over 2,500 ecosystems representing 35 states submitted entries. Of those, Workplace Learning Connection was selected as a semifinalist and exemplary model of regional collaboration to bring high-quality experiences to local students.

During the 2023 – ’24 school year, semifinalists will receive technical assistance to support the refinement and implementation of their proposed WBL ecosystem plan. They are also participating in a community of practice (CoP) and have access to learning workshops, peer collaboration opportunities, and other resources. In addition, WLC will receive $10,000 to support our ecosystem.

“Kirkwood Community College has a long history of partnering with Grant Wood AEA and all of the school districts in our region to bring career exploration experiences to sixth through 12th grade students,” said Kristine Bullock, director of Workplace Learning Connection. “We are excited to be selected as an exemplary work-based learning ecosystem and look forward to learning from districts and organizations across the country to bring more experiences to more students as part of our local workforce development efforts.”

At the end of Phase 2, up to 10 finalists will be selected to participate in Phase 3 of the Gen Z Challenge, which provides $150,000 in prize money.

Introducing New Workplace Learning Connection Team Member!

Victoria Wanda, business liaison for Linn County, will be working out of the LinnVictoria Wanda County Regional Center. Victoria will maintain and develop relationships with Linn County businesses.

Where did you work prior to WLC? I worked at Oak Ridge Middle School as a middle school counselor for the past nine years. I was also a site supervisor for the University of Iowa and University of Northern Iowa supporting school counseling practicum and internship students in their graduate program.

What do you like to do in your spare time? My 2 and 5 year old keep me very busy! I love spending time with them, my husband, family, and friends. I also enjoy cooking, exploring new restaurants, running, organizing, and spending time outside.

From your perspective, why is career exploration such a pivotal part of a student’s educational journey? As a former middle school counselor, I deeply value personal growth and development as well as getting students connected with their interests and passions. Career exploration is such a pivotal part of a student’s educational journey because it provides a diversity of wonderful and fulfilling opportunities: exposure to careers and businesses they may not realize exist; a different way of learning; [and ways to] discover their purpose, help them feel connected to society, and develop skills and building blocks to meet their future career goals.

What are you most looking forward to in your new role? I am looking forward to building relationships with our businesses/school partners and working alongside such a strong team that shares the same passion in supporting our local students with their career development, interests, and personal growth. I’m excited to witness the lightbulb that students have when they feel excited or intrigued by a career. I’m equally grateful and ecstatic when our business partners are enthusiastic about helping shape our future workforce. We cannot do this without them!

West Branch Animal Clinic has hosted numerous job shadow and internship experiences over the last 10 years! They are so accommodating and willing to share their passion for veterinary medicine with our students. Thank you, West Branch Animal Clinic, for your support of work-based learning!

“West Branch Animal Clinic has been happy to host many students over the years and provide them with an opportunity to see many different aspects of veterinary medicine,” said Tonya Samuelson, office manager at the clinic. “We strive to show them that this field is not just about caring for animals but their owners as well and hope that real workplace exposure will help them in making educational decisions.”

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

West Branch Animal Clinic