Do you Have a Plan?

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Plusone Email

NICC_have_planCareer Learning Link can Help!

As college and career options become the hot topics of discussion for high school juniors and seniors, Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) and its community partners put forth a question for young students: “Have you started planning for the career you want in the future?”

The Northeast Iowa Career Learning Link mission is to help students answer this question. Connecting high school students to their career path and involving local businesses in the process are major objectives of Career Learning Link, created by Upper Explorerland Regional Planning Commission (UERPC), East Central Intergovernmental Association (ECIA) and NICC.

This partnership provides students with career facilitation and work-based career exploration activities such as business tours, job shadowing, mentoring and leadership opportunities. The initiative builds students’ knowledge of career opportunities in their local communities using an innovative success coach strategy, according to Gena Gesing, NICC director of career and intermediary programs.

“There are 10 success coaches in the College’s district who are helping to promote the Northeast Iowa Career Learning Link partnership to high schools and their students. Students learn about this opportunity through their high school counselors or teachers who encourage students to become involved,” Gesing explained. “Job shadow experiences are also a great way for a student to see firsthand a career of interest in a short-term experience of two to eight hours. This observation can help confirm a student’s career interests or steer him or her in another direction.”

Success coaches help students connect with local businesses for job shadowing. Students often find that what people tell them about a career or what they see on TV is not reality, which makes the job shadow an invaluable experience. This can potentially save a student time and money on postsecondary education because they experience a career and can ensure it is a good fit for their interests and skills.

According to Gesing, Northeast Iowa Career Learning Link is focusing additional efforts on working with students who are undecided on their future career, as well as students who may face one or more barriers to their future career success.

The Northeast Iowa Career Learning Link brings together two grant-funded programs, Youth CareerConnect (YCC) and the Regional Work-Based Intermediary Network.

The $2.7 million four-year YCC grant from the U.S. Department of Labor Employment and Training Administration is a partnership between the College, 23 regional high schools, business and industry, ECIA and UERPC, the grant’s fiscal agent and lead workforce partner. This grant encourages high school juniors to study a career pathway in the high demand career areas of healthcare, information technology, advanced manufacturing, business/finance, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, math).

The Regional Work-Based Intermediary Network is legislative funding managed by the Iowa Department of Education. In 2014 and 2015, each of Iowa’s 15 community colleges received a portion of the $1.45 million in grant funding to develop 15 networks for their respective districts. The main purpose of the intermediary funding is to create a connector for schools and businesses within each community college region in Iowa.

To participate in Northeast Iowa Career Learning Link and be directed to a success coach in their area, students, parents and counselors may contact Julie Anderson, career and intermediary grant coordinator, at

Businesses are welcome to participate. Their input is part of the solution! Contact Gena Gesing at and visit to learn more!

Facebook Twitter Linkedin Plusone Email