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Career conversation training aims to engage, explore and empower

Date: Thursday, May 12, 2022

The Heartland Area Education Agency office in Johnston was abuzz yesterday with Iowa school personnel attending a new, innovative training that supports student career exploration. 

The Iowa Meaningful Career Conversations trainings are being held throughout the state during the month of May, and school personnel have the valuable opportunity to learn more on how to engage students, parents and community partners on career development. These half-day trainings will provide techniques for staff to have purposeful conversations with learners to help them better understand the relationship between education and employment. Conversations like these can be vital for shaping individual career and academic plans and assisting students to become future ready. 

“Career conversations strengthen what students need to know about themselves, their career interests, passions and aptitudes,” said Katy Blatnick-Gagne, education consultant at the Iowa Department of Education. “The information learned from these trainings can help staff point students in the right direction for careers and can provide support throughout the pre-K-12 education system and into postsecondary learning.” 

The trainings take an inclusive approach and any school staff member who serves in a mentor role or takes part in career conversations with students and learners in pre-Kindergarten through post-graduation (grade 20) is invited to enroll in the class. Along with school administrators, educators and counselors, staff such as coaches, librarians, intermediaries, community college advisors and other personnel are highly encouraged to attend. 

“This training is important for not only faculty,” said Sue Schirmer, Heartland Area Education Agency consultant for school counseling and future ready. “It is also for those who interact with students like bus drivers, lunch room staff, administrative assistants and others.”

Iowa Meaningful Career Conversations is a joint project between the Iowa Department of Education, Iowa’s Area Education Agencies (AEA) and over 30 educators and business partners. 

More than 320 school personnel are anticipated to attend the Iowa Meaningful Career Conversations trainings this month. Registration is still open for remaining trainings being held at other Iowa AEA locations, and opportunities to attend in-person and online are available. There is no cost to attend the training. 

“This is a great opportunity to not only help students engage, explore and empower their next steps,” Blatnick-Gagne said. “It’s also a chance for educators, coaches, custodians and others to feel successful and prepared to help students on their career paths.”