March 2021 Newsletter

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March 2021 Newsletter

Career Exploration Blooms Into A Dream Come True

Emily Henkle started her exploration of the floral industry 10 years ago through job shadows and an internship with Nature’s Corner in Vinton, coordinated by Workplace Learning Connection. Fast forward to today and Emily is now the owner of that very same shop.  

“I don't know if I would have made the connections I did that led to the purchase of my business without my WLC experience,” says Emily. “Prior to my internship I had applied to work at Nature’s Corner, but the owner at the time wasn’t hiring. Once I got my internship though, I had an in. After my internship was over, the owner kept me on the schedule, and the rest is history. It was the internship that really, really made it happen.”

Emily graduated from Kirkwood’s floral program and started working full time at Nature’s Corner. After a little over a year she bought the store, at only 20 years old, and has owned it for four and a half years.

“I am so appreciative that Cindy (the former owner) was willing to let me in,” says Emily. “It’s kind of rare to find someone interested in the floral industry — it's just not something that is at the top of most high school students’ minds as a potential career. It is really exciting when you see a young person interested in this field.

“Also, it’s important to continue to keep young people in town,” she continues. “Not that it is not OK to go explore or move away to college, but in the end, you know, we still need people to live and work here too. It’s important for kids to know that it’s OK to go into the trades, it’s OK to go to college, and it’s OK to live in your hometown. Everyone has their own path.”

This winter Emily embarked on a new adventure — hosting her own intern. She is happy to pay this experience forward and even has her intern work on some of the same projects she herself worked on as an intern. “Any task I give her to do she does it, and she does it amazingly.”

Interested in learning more about hosting an intern and helping students explore their passions? Visit our Partners and Volunteers page.

Student Editorial: Internship Helped Me Discover New Career Path

By Abbye Hendryx, Vinton-Shellsburg High School

I always thought I would be a nurse, so I did an internship through Kirkwood’s Workplace Learning Connection to put myself in the shoes of a nurse for 90 hours. I learned a lot about not only nursing and what nurses do every day, but I also learned things about myself that I didn’t know before. I realized I love building relationships with new people and watching patients achieve their goals as they get better.  

The employees at Virginia Gay Hospital were big influences on me. Watching them take care of the patients to make sure they are comfortable was truly amazing. The nurses at Virginia Gay are very good at what they do. They are all so caring for any patient that walks through the door. No matter who the person is or what they need, the nurses and doctors at VGH are always there.

Originally my plan was to graduate and go straight into nursing because I felt that profession was the best fit for me. This internship opened my eyes to many different opportunities. From this experience I have decided to study to be an occupational therapy assistant (OTA), as it feels like an even better fit for me.

I attended a job shadow at a pediatric OT clinic and I immediately could see myself doing occupational therapy every day. Watching the kids in there for one day and seeing how hard they worked and how far they have come was truly amazing. In a job, I want to build relationships with the patients; I want to be the one that helps them from day one until the end. As an OTA I would get the opportunity to help the same patients once or twice a week do daily activities that they are not able to do.

Internship opportunities like Abbye’s are open to all students in 11th and 12th grades. The fall 2021 internship portal is now open for current sophomores and juniors. Explore further on our website.

Local Sector Boards Provide Valuable Career Exploration Resources

 Eastern Iowa has many companies that supply jobs in diverse sectors such as manufacturing, healthcare, transportation, business services, information technology, and Architecture, Construction, and Engineering (ACE). Career options in these fields are rewarding and can provide above-average income.  Six Sector Board logos stacked

Sector boards were established to help promote opportunities available in these industries and to ensure the next generation of workers is trained to succeed in these fields. Sector partnerships bring together multiple employers within an industry to collaborate with colleges, schools, labor, workforce agencies, community organizations, and other community stakeholders to align training with the skills needed for that industry to grow and remain competitive.
Together, these six in-demand industries have joined efforts to provide a hub of career exploration resources at This site allows students and adults to:

  • Identify their natural skills and interests through an interest profiler assessment
  • Search how their skills and interests align with occupations in various industries
  • Dig into specific information, stats, and resources for each industry
  • Explore employers in the Iowa City/Cedar Rapids area who are eager to help youths and adults find their passion and apply it to their work

To explore these resources, visit

“The website is impressive, easy to navigate, and user friendly,” says Jaci Hilmer, school counselor at North Linn High School. “I can see myself using it with my students when we do our career planning. It is a fast way to direct them to different careers.”

Whether you are an educator, a parent, or a business, has resources for you!

Jones County Conservation has been providing support to WLC for over 10 years, helping students explore careers in conservation. Jones County Conservation has graciously helped and continues to assist WLC with speaker days, tours, job shadows, internships, and virtual engagements.

We can’t thank them enough for all their support!

Jones County Conservation Board Natural and Cultural Resources logo

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