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Every day students get the opportunity to learn more about exciting careers right here in Iowa! What does that experience look like?

Keep reading! 

Shooting for the Stars



• Business Partner: COLLINS AEROSPACE

April Halverson started her journey with Gena Gesing from Career Learning Link at Northeast Iowa Community College in  2017, and started exploring all of the options for her career after high school. April wanted a job in advanced manufacturing but wanted to work for a company that she could grow with. She's always been interested in engineering, but didn't want to take on college debt.  She knew landing the right job would allow her to go back to school later after she got a head start with her career. 


The proof is found in April Halverson’s story, a journey that began as a freshman at Howard-Winneshiek High School and culminated in landing a high-paying aerospace career with opportunities for additional training and advancement. 


"Many of the classes I was taking in high school could be labeled as ‘guy’ classes, like manufacturing, Intro to Engineering, Principles of Engineering, Computer Integrated Manufacturing, Engineering Design and Development, CNC and Welding. As a freshman, when I started taking these classes, I took them just to prove a girl could do it,” Halverson explained. “These STEM and advanced manufacturing credit courses were possible because of Northeast Iowa Community College. Through these opportunities, I found something I’m good at and can keep improving on.”


Halverson became interested in a potential career in the aerospace industry and attended a field trip to Collins Aerospace in Burnsville, Minn., on Feb. 21. The Career Learning Link program at Northeast Iowa Community College, and schools partnering through Youth Career Connect (YCC), invited Halverson to attend.


Inclement weather forecast for Feb. 20-21 prompted the student and her mother, Sandy, to drive to Minnesota the night before and stay in a hotel overnight. April was the only student from northeast Iowa to journey in the wintry conditions and attend the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Tour.

Her enthusiasm and passion for an aerospace career, and opportunities to use her CNC machinist and engineering skills, caught the interest of the Collins team.


“After attending the Introduce a Girl to Engineering Tour event at Collins Aerospace, I now have a solid career with the company right after graduating from high school last December. I went for my final interview and was offered a US Government machining employment position. It’s Level 4 pay instead of starting at Level 1,” Halverson expressed.


Every high school student’s story can look different, and Halverson knew early on that attending college right after graduating from high school wasn't the path she wanted to take, according to Holly O’Brien, NICC student success coach.


“Through our Career Learning Link program and by taking concurrent classes for college credits, April earned two Career Pathway Certificates in Welding and Computer Numerical Control while enrolled in high school. Not all students are two- or four-year college bound, but have the potential to be successful by training for an in-demand industry. April is educated about what she wants to do and will have opportunities to advance her education and training while working for Collins Aerospace,” stated O’Brien.


According to Jim Lynch, E3 STEM program manager at Apple Valley High School, “It is incredibly important to expose girls to female STEM professionals in the field in order to work against societal stereotypes and social pressures that run counter to having girls consider careers in these fields. Girls need to see themselves in these careers, and the best way to do that is to have them engage directly with female STEM professionals in their place of work.” 


Networking is the power of Iowa Intermediary Network – April would not have the opportunities afforded to her without the support of the CLL network in coordination with Apple Valley High School. Now look where she is today and where she is headed into the future, just one short year after high school graduation!


Would you like to shoot for the stars? Parents, students, educators and business/organization partners are invited to contact their IIN Coodinator to get INvolved!  Visit the contact page, type in your zip code, and be in touch with your your regional coordinator by phone or email. 

It’s a Crime not to
Discover your Passion

• Student: KAY MUNDY

• IIN Coordinator: ANN BRENDES,



Kay Mundy is currently a senior at Marion High School and has been involved with the Workplace Learning Connection for the last two and a half years. As a sophomore, Kay initially attended our FBI Career Day to explore her interest in the criminal justice field. After gaining firsthand experience at the FBI day, she discovered criminal justice was not the career path for her. The following year Kay attended WLC’s Veterinary Science Day to explore another area of interest and loved her experience. Coming out of that day, Kay knew she wanted to pursue a career in vet sciences and she set out to make it happen.


In the winter of 2019, Kay applied to the WLC Internship Program and was accepted for a summer 2019 internship as a vet assistant at Ross Veterinary Clinic, with Dr. Kathy Ross. Her experience with Dr. Ross solidified her passion for animal care and set her trajectory for her college career. Kay is planning to attend Iowa State in the fall, majoring in veterinary medicine and biology. Another positive outcome from the internship is that Kay and Dr. Ross both had such a mutually positive experience that Kay has since begun working part-time at Ross Veterinary Clinic, where she is continuing to gain experience. Employment following an internship is not a guaranteed outcome from all of our internships, but for dedicated students who make a positive impact on their hosts, it is always a potential.


Approximately 29% of our WLC interns go on to get offered a job or continued internship with the business where they interned.


Kay has taken full advantage of the opportunities offered by the Workplace Learning Connection. She started by first attending job shadows to narrow her fields of interest, and then when confident in her area of interest, pursued an internship to gain real-world experience. We have been able to watch Kay grow and develop over the last several years and have been so pleased to see the development of her career pathway.

This experience greatly impacted Kay’s college and career trajectory. Her experiences with the Workplace Learning Connection helped Kay establish her career pathway, by allowing her to identify her true area of interest before she even stepped foot on her college campus. Not only that, but this experience has greatly bolstered her self-confidence as she heads into the next chapter of her life.


“At the time, I was very unsure of what route I wanted to take, but that’s why I’m glad I took advantage of the WLC program. With the FBI day, I was still somewhat interested, but as I went through high school and did an internship at Ross Vet Clinic, I finalized my decision to become a Veterinarian. I’ve also always had a love for animals and I knew I wanted to pursue a career that involved them. Ultimately, what had a big impact on my decision was how active I’d be, and through my FBI job shadow I learned that most of the time it’s a sit-down job and, although the physical aspect interested me, I like to be on my feet.” Kay Mundy


Dr. Ross also positively benefited from this experience as well. Not only did she find a part-time employee following the internship, she also built a positive relationship with Kay and feels very good about her role in helping young people discover and follow their dreams.


All parties involved, including Kay’s counselor, guardian, and the WLC coordinator could not have been happier with how this experience turned out.


Kay’s experience demonstrates how IIN and their regional partners provide an invaluable resource to Iowa students by helping them to discover and refine their college and career pathways through exciting, work-based learning opportunities. This work helps to build Iowa’s future workforce by giving students learning opportunities to promote and encourage students to get involved in fields that are experiencing a shortage, such as in this case, rural veterinarians. Kay indicated her internship experience positively influenced her decision to live and work in Iowa.


In Kay’s own words: “If you want to know for sure [that a career is right for you], you really should do an internship. It helps you determine if it is a career you want to pursue. Gives you experience so you know what to do and expect.”

– Kay Mundy


Would you like to discover your passion? Parents, students, educators and business/organization partners are invited to contact their IIN Coodinator to get INvolved!  Visit the contact page, type in your zip code, and be in touch with your your regional coordinator by phone or email. 

Crime Not to Explore
Shooting for the Stars
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