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Megan Burke-Brunscheen
Career Connections
Ext. 6545







Career Connections

Career Connections provides students with disabilities the extra training and support needed to become independent and successful in community jobs.  This school-to-work transition program is an innovative collaboration between local school districts, Grant Wood Area Education Agency, and multiple community-based agencies with specialization in supported employment:

Where Does Career Connections Operate?
Career Connections operates within five project areas, each of which has created meaningful jobs for students and significantly increased wages:

Who participates? 

Career Connections students are those who have an Individual Education Plan (IEP) and typically:

  • Need additional training to obtain and learn a community-based job but do not require long-term support to succeed in the workforce.

  • Do not plan to pursue a college degree in the immediate future though may seek job-related certification, licensure, or class.

What does Career Connections involve?  Career Connections staff work with students to obtain jobs that match their career goals and visions.  During high school, Career Connections staff:

  • Meet students and family members to discuss career aspirations.

  • Review assessment data collected by the student’s special education teacher as part of the IEP transition process.

  • Conduct additional interest inventories and assessments as helpful to clarify possible career directions.

  • Work with special education teacher to arrange activities such as job shadows tied to the career plan.

During the fifth year element of the Career Connections program, staff work with students in community settings to:

  • Participate in job shadows and short-term job tryouts to help students refine their career plans.

  • Participate in extended job internships, paid work experiences of 20-40 hours per week that will be included on student’s resume and may lead to a job the student keeps.

  • Receive job training and other supports.

  • Possibly enroll in job-related training courses, licensures, or certifications.

  • Maintain relationship with the IEP team to continue critical transition planning, services, and supports. 

What specific services does Career Connections provide? 

  • Career planning assistance:   Program staff work with the student, teachers, and family to develop a “person-centered” career goal and plan for achieving that goal.  This is achieved through interest inventories, observations in community settings, and one-on-one and small group discussion sessions. 

  • Extensive work experiences:  Students will explore possible careers through a combination of job shadows, short-term job tryouts, and extended paid internships in community businesses.

  • Job coaching and training:  Staff provide job coaching and training individualized to the student’s needs so that she/he can be successful at the job.  Typically, this is structured so that student receives more intensive supports at the start of a new job and these supports fade within the first month or so.  Career Connections staff also work with employers as needed to help the student meet expectations of a typical employee.  

  • Job placement assistance:  Staff help students obtain jobs prior to the completion of the fifth year.

  • Other supports:  Career Connections staff assist students in areas such as travel training, behavioral and emotional counseling, budgeting, and establishing linkages with community services such as health and housing.

How does Career Connections benefit students?

  • More informed career choices through real life experiences

  • Development of work skills and experiences that potential employers will value

  • Less stressful transition from high school to the adult world

  • Greater work hours and wages


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Grant Wood Area Education Agency extends equal opportunities in its employment practices, educational programs and services, and does not discriminate on the basis of color, gender, race, national origin, religion, creed, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status, disability, veteran status or as otherwise prohibited by law. If you believe you or your child has been discriminated against or treated unjustly, please contact the Agency’s Equity Coordinator, Maria Cashman, at 319-399-6847 or 800-332-8488. Grant Wood AEA, 4401 Sixth St SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404.

ADDRESS: 4401 Sixth Street SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404
TELEPHONE: 319-399-6700 | 800-332-8488
Fax: 319-399-6457
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