Connections are being made early in the Siouxland community, thanks in part to partnerships between local businesses and the Sioux City Career Academy. The Career Academy offers over 30 pathways for area high school students to explore. Each pathway integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge to provide students with a pathway to careers and post-secondary education.
For students still determining what their future holds, the Career Academy allows exploration. Students can ‘try on’ pathways until a passion is discovered. Exploring these pathways in high school allows students to make a more educated decision about a career or future college major. There are three main goals for every pathway in the Career Academy.
“We want to connect students with careers and professionals in those positions, so students understand what is available in our community,” said Katie Towler, principal of the Sioux City Career Academy. “We hope our students will either stay here in Siouxland or return to work in our community someday.”
Students should leave high school with everything they need to be immediately employable with the knowledge of how a two-year or four-year degree can help them achieve their career goals. The Career Academy has very strong work-based learning programs, so student internships are encouraged. Classes are focused on helping students gain experience and applying skills they learn in the classroom as much as they are about making connections with possible employers and groups in the community.
“Our students are exposed to real-life experience through the Career Academy, providing them with a true glimpse into future careers and also building their resumes in the process,” adds Towler. “For example, our graphic arts students connected with Downtown Partners to serve as volunteers for the Alley Art Festival and helped Downtown Partners to prepare for the NAIA tournament. Experiences like this help engage students and strengthen their community relationships. These connections encourage students to stay in our community after high school.”
During the 2021-2022 school year, over 2,600 students will come from the tri-state area to attend Career Academy classes. Recently, Governors Reynolds, Ricketts, and Noem signed a pact allowing students from Nebraska and South Dakota to attend the Career Academy. Currently, students from 15 area schools have access to the Sioux City Career Academy.
One of the Sioux City Career Academy’s goals for the upcoming school year is to increase their community business connections. The Career Academy’s Advisory Committee works closely with students to help them make a career out of what they are learning and loving in the classroom. The Advisory Committee is a vital part of connecting students with internship opportunities. In the fashion/interior design pathway, students work with the University of South Dakota’s Theater Department to gain experience in stage design, costumes, and make up.
Two Career Academy internship coordinators work with students to identify their goals and then align those goals with area internships. Students must meet certain expectations showing they are well-prepared before being placed in an internship, ensuring it will be successful for both the student and the business. The internships are graded with businesses providing feedback on the student’s performance.
Last school year’s 63 internships included two very successful ones. Cale, a 2021 graduate, interned at Thompson Electric in their prefabrication shop. Cale’s class schedule allowed him to work part of every day during the school year. After graduation, he was offered a full-time job at Thompson Electric where he continues to work. This internship was a win-win because Thompson gained a valuable employee and Siouxland kept a great young adult in the community.
Another successful internship is going on currently at The Warrior Hotel with Terreek, a student in the Career Academy’s culinary program. Terreek is a chef de partie in Woodbury’s Steakhouse kitchen, increasing his skills by working with some of the top chefs in the area. What started out as a regular internship, turned into a paid internship and will likely lead to a full-time job for Terreek after graduation.
Currently, there is a high demand for students with two-year technical degrees in higher-paying jobs, and the Career Academy is working with community businesses to fill that need. Demand for welders in the community is high, and fortunately, so is demand for the welding pathway in the Sioux City Career Academy. There is also a high demand for construction and medical workers, such as CNAs and CMAs; the Career Academy is working on filling that demand.
To learn more about the Sioux City Career Academy or to visit about possible business partnerships, call (712) 279-6668. Businesses in nearby Nebraska and South Dakota communities are also encouraged to partner with the Career Academy now that students in those areas also attend the Career Academy.