P-20 Network Fall Virtual Meeting

Like the Spring 2020 P-20 Network Meeting, the Fall 2020 Meeting has also been moved to an online asynchronous event. Despite again missing out on face-to-face, real-time interactions, we are excited to bring you the relevant presentations that have been requested.

Each of the presentations below links to a video on the P-20 Network YouTube Channel.

Welcome – Thinking about Engagement Networks
Dr. Rena Cotsones, Chief Engagement Officer & Senior Associate Vice President, Northern Illinois University

College & Career Readiness – College & Career Pathways

An Overview of Career & Technical Education and Perkins V from ISBE & ICCB – Natasha Allan, Director for Career & Technical Education, Illinois Community College Board; Marci Johnson, Director of Career & Technical Education and Innovation, Illinois State Board of Education

Bringing Work Home: A Framework for Virtual Work-Based Learning (Also presented for the Forum for Excellence 2020) – Heather Penczak, Policy & Program Manager, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University; Carl Schneider, Fellow, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University; Nikki James, Practera at Northeastern University

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads
Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads YouTube Playlist
Suggest a Guest

College & Career Readiness – Dual Credit

“How does a teacher get a dual credit endorsement in Illinois?” – Dr. Jenny Parker, Associate Vice Provost for Educator Licensure and Preparation, Northern Illinois University

Dual Credit Teacher Professional Development Plans – Alauna McGee, Director of Early College Opportunities, Heartland Community College

Equity & Opportunity

Parent University: Key Components and Getting Started – Susana Das Neves, Director of Illinois Migrant Education Services, Northern Illinois University

Research & Data

Illinois Postsecondary Profiles – Launch of Path 2 – Occupational Profiles – Charlie Rosemond, Data & Outcomes Manager, Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University; Dr. Jason Klein, Director of P-20 Initiatives, Northern Illinois University

P-20 Research & Data Collaborative – Overview + State/Federal Projects – Dr. Alan Clemens, Director, NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative; Dr. Ben Creed, Assistant Professor, College of Education-Northern Illinois University; Dr. Kelly Summers, Associate Professor, College of Education-Northern Illinois University

P-20 Research & Data Collaborative – Working with Local Organizations: Perspectives from Superintendents – Dr. Steve Epperson, Superintendent, Paw Paw CUSD271; Dr. Lynn Gibson, Superintendent, Paw Paw CUSD271

For more information and to be part of the conversation of the P-20 Network:

October 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Jocsan Martinez – Nuclear Power Plant Management

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Jocsan Martinez, who is a civil engineer and shift manager for Exelon Corporation at the Byron Nuclear Power Plant in Byron, Illinois. The Byron Nuclear Power Plant can generate enough electricity each year to power over 2,000,000 homes, and Jocsan leads one of the teams that runs the plant’s main operations, which range from managing the layers of safety systems to performing important maintenance in order to produce power all day each day. Jocsan grew up in Chicago and attended Whitney Young High School before studying civil engineering at the Illinois Institute of Technology. An internship at the Byron Nuclear Power Plant led to his eventual full-time employment there and a unique 5-week rotating schedule that features 12-hour shifts.

As a civil engineer, Jocsan’s job is part of the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway.

In this video, Jocsan describes engineers and their work by saying, “We solve problems, and there are always problems to solve.” Additionally, while he stresses the importance of math and science skills, he emphatically states that “teamwork and communication are key” to success in his work.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads with nuclear power plant shift manager Jocsan Martinez.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Erika Sittler – Electrical Engineer

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Erika Sittler, who is an electrical engineer for the City of St. Charles (St. Charles, Illinois). Erika provides background about arriving in Chicagoland as a 14 year-old and entering Schaumburg High School before attending Harper College and then the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. As she moved through her higher education experiences, she focused on electrical engineering–partially because she did not think she would be interested or successful with the type of hands-on work with machinery that is often part of mechanical engineering. Today, one of Erika’s favorite aspects of her work is being in the field and helping to diagnose and fix broken equipment.

Erika’s job crosses multiple Career Pathways. As an electrical engineer, her job is part of the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway. Likewise, given Erika’s role in helping to maintain the city-owned electrical grid in St. Charles, Illinois, her position also has strong connections to the Human & Public Services Career Pathway.

Erika tells students that it is important to enjoy and be good at problem solving, writing, and math in order to do her job well. Put another way, Erika says that people who like to tinker and building things and who enjoy solving puzzles have important skills to do well as an electrical engineer.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode with electrical engineer Erika Sittler.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Steve O’Neil – Environmental Biologist/Wastewater Operator

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Steve O’Neill, who is a Wastewater Operator for the City of St. Charles (St. Charles, Illinois). Steve speaks about his educational background, including the importance of one of his high school teachers at St. Charles East High School and earning a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Biology from Eastern Illinois University. Steve highlights the range of activities he encounters and completes each week in his work, ranging from biology in a lab setting to working with industrial machinery in the field, and he explains how he feels his work improves the world by maintaining human and environmental health within the community locally and by contributing to clean water globally.

Like many of the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads guests, Steve’s work spans across a number of Career Pathways. In large part, his work is rooted in the Agriculture, Food, and Natural Resources Career Pathway, but given the role of large, industrial machinery in Steve’s work, there are also significant elements of the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway. Finally, as is clear in Steve’s interview, his focus on being a public servant as a government worker also provides strong evidence of his job being part of the Human & Public Services Career Pathway.

In this episode, Steve spoke about how diverse his work is within a day and from one day to the next, and he also spoke about first being aware of the possibility of working for local government as a result of a summer job he held as a teenager. From that, he built and maintained relationships that then led to a long-term position and a career. Even in a job that requires dealing with raw sewage, Steve reminds students to “never shy away from an opportunity to learn something new.”

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode with environmental biologist Steve O’Neil.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Joan Schouten – Government Purchasing Manager

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Joan Schouten, who is the Purchasing Division Manager for the City of St. Charles (St. Charles, Illinois). Joan speaks about the importance of collaboration and organization in her work, and she discusses how critical it is that government’s use of the money that comes from taxpayers is efficient and ethical. Joan comments on the wide range of individuals with whom she is able to work in her role and how interesting it is to always be learning about new products, processes, and solutions as she sets-up and manages purchasing processes for the wide range of goods and services necessary to keep a city government operating.

As a purchasing manager, Joan’s work is rooted in the Business & Finance Career Pathway, but as an employ of local government, her occupation is also directly connected to the Human & Public Services Pathway.

Joan stresses that her work gives her a strong sense of pride as she feels like she is giving back to her community with the work that she does each day. Joan also finds her work incredibly interesting as she interacts with people in a wide range of industries and jobs regularly based on the many different goods and services that the city needs to purchase.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads interview with government purchasing manager Joan Schouten.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Jeff Carter – Electrician

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Jeff Carer, who is an electrician and the owner of A and J Electric in Sycamore, Illinois. Jeff explains the process of becoming an electrician, which includes a four-to-five year apprenticeship, and he stresses the importance of ongoing learning throughout one’s career. Today, for example, Jeff continues to learn about updates to code in different counties and municipalities as well as a focus on safety as defined by the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA).

As an electrician and a business owner, Jeff is in the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway as well as the Business & Finance Career Pathway.

In both his profession as an electrician and beyond as a former baseball player and current shark diver, Jeff has a unique perspective on his work, and he explains how much he enjoys that each day is different in his job. From working on the re-construction of Soldier Field to skyscrapers in Chicago to work locally, there is tremendous satisfaction Jeff finds from safely and successfully completing each job. Jeff also stresses the importance work ethic and a desire to learn – Arriving early and asking questions are two key examples of this.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads interview with electrician Jeff Carter.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

May 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Bridget Caragher – Social Worker

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logo Since students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Bridget Caragher, who is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and co-owner at Green Door Therapy. Bridget provides therapy for individuals and families, and she also has responsibilities in managing the business that range from working with insurance companies to posting on social media. Bridget explains the requirements of earning a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree as well as then continuing on for your clinical certification, and she also provides tips about what high school and college/university students can do now in order to prepare for a career as a therapist even while they are in school.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Bridget’s work is in the Human & Public Services Career Pathway.

In speaking about social work and other related careers, Bridget explained an educational progression that would include a Bachelor’s Degree, followed immediately by a Master’s Degree, and then a full-time internship. She also spoke about how students can begin to explore the career by volunteering and working roles like serving as a camp counselor while still in school. Most importantly, Bridget stressed that critical competencies for success in this work were to be open-minded and empathetic, saying the key to helping others in her job was to ‘look for resilience where people don’t see it in themselves.’

Watch this interview with social worker Bridget Caragher.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Brian Pekron – Wind Farm Operations

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode, we interview Brian Pekron, who is in Wind Farm Operations. Originally earning Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Nuclear Engineering, Brian and a partner created a manufacturing company that designed an improved mixing nozzle for adhesives. Recently, Brain came back to working in the energy field with his new role in Wind Farming. In this role, Brian is involved in everything from planning to implementation, and his work ranges from managing financial projections and reports to working with suppliers and ensuring that wind turbines are fully operational.

Brian’s work in Wind Farm Operations and his range of job responsibilities keeps his work firmly rooted in both the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology and Trades Career Pathway and the Business and Finance Career Pathway.

To be successful in his work, Brian has developed skills and competencies ranging from coding to deep understanding of the science behind energy to finance. For students, Brian speaks of the tremendous opportunities available in the fast-growing fields of wind and solar energy as well as of the need to gain exposure to many different careers while in school.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads interview with Brian Pekron about wind farm operations.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

P-20 Network Virtual Spring Meeting

Our Spring 2020 P-20 Network Meeting was originally scheduled for April 23, 2020, at NIU Naperville. Due to the shelter-in-place order in Illinois as a result of COVID-19, the Spring P-20 Network Meeting has been moved to an asynchronous virtual event. While this format unfortunately requires us to miss out on the face-to-face discussions that are such a critical part of the P-20 Network, we are excited to share a number of the previously planned presentations as videos that can be viewed across the P-20 Network and beyond.

Each of the presentations below links to a video on the P-20 Network YouTube Channel.

Transitional English – More info coming soon!
In the coming weeks, we also look forward to hosting a webinar about proposed competencies for Transitional English that have been developed by a group composed of stakeholders from across school districts, postsecondary institutions, and state agencies throughout Illinois.

Meeting Evaluation
After watching the videos, please take a few minutes to provide feedback using this short form on your P-20 Network experience as well as on the needs of your organization moving forward.

NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative
From statewide research projects to working with districts of all sizes on their research and data needs, the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative is excited to offer a wide range of services and partnerships to advance knowledge and practice. Learn more about the NIU P-20 Research & Data Collaborative, and contact us for more information about specific projects.

For more information and to be part of the conversation of the P-20 Network:

Fall 2020 P-20 Network Meeting
Finally, plan now to attend the Fall 2020 P-20 Network Meeting on Thursday, October 1, 2020, at the Barsema Alumni & Visitors Center on-campus at Northern Illinois University in DeKalb.

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Molly Levy – Fintech Product Management

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Molly Levy, who is Vice President for Product at Liberis, a Fintech company working with small businesses. Fintech refers to the sub-sector of companies that focus on developing and implementing information technology solutions from hardware to software that create new or enhance existing financial products. Molly, who is from Chicago’s Northern Suburbs but now lives and works in London in the United Kingdom, leads the team that is responsible for the creation and ongoing development of products at Liberis, a company which focuses their efforts of providing capital to small businesses.

As a leader of a Fintech company, Molly’s current role as the Vice President for Product as being in both the Business & Finance Career Pathway as well as the Information Technology Career Pathway.

While Molly grew up in Suburban Chicago, from there, her career has taken her to San Francisco and now to London, and through these experiences Molly has learned a great deal about the importance of being flexible and about being able to work with others from different cultures, which Molly discusses in this video. Molly has learned about and stresses the importance of the feedback loop. In the case of her company that feedback loop is specifically between customers and the design team, and it results in an iterative design process through which products are always being improved. Molly’s key advice to current students to find value in all of your work place experiences and to view them as opportunities to learn and improve.

Watch this interview with Molly Levy, Vice President-Product at Liberis.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Lisa Sharp – Architect

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Lisa Sharp, an architect who owns her own architecture firm based out of DeKalb, Illinois, USA. Lisa provides an overview of the workflow of architecture from obtaining work through the design and planning phases and, of course, on to construction. With experience doing a wide range of work, including the restoration of the historic Egyptian Theater in Downtown DeKalb, Lisa is able to provide students with an understanding of all aspects of being an architect.

As an architect, Lisa works in the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway. As the owner of her own firm, her job also exists in the Business and Finance Career Pathway.

From a very young age (6 years old!), Lisa remembers wanting to be an architect. She has always liked drawing, math, and being with people – all of which are necessary to be successful as an architect. She describes the role of an architect as being like the conductor of a band as one works with other professionals across a broad range of job types from engineers to interior designer to construction workers. Despite the fact that 98% of her work is completed on a computer today, Lisa still stresses that drawing is a critical skill for success, and she says it is also very important to have a strong imagination and to be very good at thinking ahead and planning.

Watch this interview with architect Lisa Sharp.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Desiree Battaglia – Communications-Media Relations

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Desiree Battaglia, a media relations specialist at Northwestern Medicine. Desiree recently moved into this role after serving as the Manager of Public Relations and Corporate Communications for Wilton Brands. In both of these roles, Desiree has worked with everything from media outlets ranging from television stations to magazines as she has worked to tell stories for each of these organizations while inspiring others as they engage with that work.

As a communications specialist, Desiree’s work would be classified as being in the Human & Public Services Career Pathway, though currently her work is also directly related to the Health Science & Technology Career Pathway as the stories she is telling are that of a major healthcare and hospital network in Chicagoland.

During the interview, Desiree shared her experiences in serving as a member of the staff of the school newspaper in high school, and then, she worked at both the newspaper and the television station while attending Northern Illinois University. Even prior to those experiences, she always had a love for making speeches and doing presentations, and these personal interests and school experiences all aligned perfectly with her career.  From this, she advises students to turn their “passion into a career” while also telling students that relationship-building, follow-through, writing and communications skills, and being resilient are all critical to career success as a communications professional.

Watch this interview with media relations specialist Desiree Smith.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Laura Rice – Microbiologist

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Laura Rice, a microbiologist who holds a PhD., has over a dozen patents, and has published dozens of technical articles. Laura works for the Nalco Water division of Ecolab, a very large international corporation. In Laura’s role, she leads teams that solve problems in the Paper and Pulp industry to ensure that machines can work efficiently in creating everything from office paper to the cardboard used in pizza boxes. Through these efforts, there is less waste, which not only increases profitability for companies, but it also results in environmental benefits as a greater percentage of the trees harvested for paper turn into product rather than end up wasted.

As a microbiologist working in the paper industry, Laura’s work would be classified as being in either the Agriculture Food, and Natural Resources and/or the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathways.

During the interview, Laura talks about being a shy student who was afraid to take the risk to ask questions in class, and she encourages all students to ask teachers at all levels for help. She highlights many of the essential skills that are vital to success in her workplace stressing that it is important to be a problem solver and to be persistent in your efforts. Above all else, Laura tells students that collaboration and communication are critical each day. When thinking about entry level positions that students will have they begin their careers, Laura reminds students that regardless of the task on which they are working, it is important to understand why it is important and to always welcome feedback as an opportunity to learn and improve.

Watch this interview with microbiologist Laura Rice.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Arthur Mingo – Attorney

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Arthur Mingo, an attorney who has recently started his own practice in Chicagoland. Arthur goes into great deal about law school teaching students to think like attorneys and about the process of taking and passing the Bar Exam. Arthur also talks about how, like a doctor who is a general practitioner or family doctor, an attorney with a new, small practice will likely take a wide variety of cases before possibly specializing in a particular area of legal work.

As an attorney, Arthur’s work would be classified as being in the Human and Public Services Career Pathway.

Arthur stresses a number of important points to students when considering becoming an attorney. First, Arthur emphasizes that the work of most attorneys most of the time does not look like it appears on television and in movies. Second, Arthur points out that while his degree from the Law School at Southern Illinois University might not be considered as prestigious as an Ivy League Law School, he learned from the same books and got a very strong legal education while also earning scholarships and strengthening his financial future.

Arthur also notes that being argumentative is not the most important skill to becoming a good attorney. Rather, it is important that one truly listens to their clients, returns phone calls, and is a strong reader and writer.

Learn more about what it’s like to be an attorney by watching this interview with Arthur Mingo.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Elizabeth Stanley – Broadway Star

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Elizabeth Stanley, who is currently starring in the production of Jagged Little Pill on Broadway in New York City. Elizabeth grew up in Western Illinois attending Camp Point Central High School, and she holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University. In addition to singing, dancing, and acting in live theater productions, Elizabeth has appeared in many television shows. From her work in regional theater to the biggest stages in the United States, Elizabeth’s job is her dream job and a dream for many. In this interview, though, Elizabeth also stresses all of the related careers that are necessary to create and maintain live theater, providing opportunities for people with all kinds of interests and skills to be involved in a career in the Arts.

As an actress, Elizabeth’s work would be classified as being in the Arts & Communications Career Pathway.

In addition to describing what life looks while performers are looking for jobs as well as once they are in a production, Elizabeth offers a number of key tips for students that are not only important for those considering a career in the Arts but that align with the Essential Skills and are relevant to all Career Pathways.

  • Be as prepared as possible
  • Be Self-Motivated
  • Be resilient and persevere; Develop one’s self-esteem
  • Be thoughtful with one’s finances and save regularly

Watch our P-20 Network interview with actress Elizabeth Stanley on YouTube.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Brigette Wolf – Snack Food Innovator & Leader

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Brigette Wolf, the Head of Snack Futures Innovation at Mondelez International. In Brigette’s role, she works with and learns from customers and retailers in order to understand their needs, and she leads a diverse team that seeks to create new products that will be exciting to consumers with an emphasis on new ideas and sustainability. Brigette also provides her advice to students about beginning their own career journeys.

As an executive in the food industry, Brigette’s work would be classified as being in either the Agriculture Food, and Natural Resources and/or the Business/Finance Career Pathways.

Brigette specifically identifies that critical thinking, the ability to listen, and being good at asking questions are all essential skills that are necessary in her work. In a job that routinely sees her traveling around the world, literally to different continents each week and back home on the weekends, she also must be able to work with both teammates and customers from around the world. Brigette has identified that having the “agility to learn” is vital to her ongoing success, and like each of the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads guests before her, she cites work ethic is being a must-have characteristic to achieve in her career.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Jim Daly – Chemist & Corporate Leader

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Jim Daly, the Vice President of Global FloraLife and Corporate Research at Smithers-Oasis. Among other products, FloraLife is the company behind the packets of flower food that come with bouqets of flowers at the supermarket, and in this video, Jim talks about everything from the science behind extending the storage life of apples to the process of innovation.

As a chemist-turned-executive, Jim’s work would be classified as being in either the Agriculture Food, and Natural Resources and/or the Business/Finance Career Pathways.

Jim stresses the importance of consistent hard work over a long period of time as a key to success in any career. He talks about learning as much as possible when you are young and taking advantage of formal learning opportunities, so you can build upon those once you are in the workplace. Jim also emphasizes how exciting it is to innovate and create while also stating that, in his experience, leading people is more complex than solving problems with chemicals.

Click here to watch this video on YouTube.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

April 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Marco Casalaina – IT Leader & AI Innovator

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads logoSince students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re bringing people from a wide range of occupations to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.


In this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video, we interview Marco Casalaina, the Senior Vice President – Product – Einstein at Salesforce.com. Marco is in charge of a global team working on Salesforce’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) efforts, and he talks about his work, the most important skills for himself and his team members, and provides advice to students about their own career pathways.

As a computer scientist and executive, Marco’s work would be classified as being in either the Information Technology and/or the Business/Finance Career Pathways.

Marco also discusses the importance of cross-cultural competence as he leads a global team with offices in the United Stands, France, Israel, and India, and he identifies two key skills for students to develop regardless of their particular career interests – communication and creativity.

Click here to watch the video on YouTube.

To keep up-to-date as new Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos are released:

March 2020

Career Pathways – Virtual Trailheads – Exploring Careers Online

With the unprecedented move to remote learning necessary about the shelter-in-place orders tied to COVID-19, the P-20 Network had previously offered suggestions about how career exploration could continue while students are learning at home. From the dialogue that this post generated, we are excited to announce that we are launching a new series on YouTube – Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads.

Since students cannot be engaging in face-to-face or on-site work-based learning experiences, we’re excited to bring people from a wide range of occupations across the Career Pathways to students remotely. These videos will allow students to learn about their work, the skills that are most important in their work each day, and to benefit from the advice that these professionals have to offer students.

Teachers can benefit from the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos in two ways. First, these videos serve as a resource that can be used as we engage students in remote learning in the short-term as well as in online, blended, or traditional learning environments in the future. Second, these videos can provide brief virtual externship experiences for teachers to hear about careers and workplaces outside of education in order to ensure that our instruction is as relevant and engaging as possible for our students and their futures.

For each interview, we will post a corresponding blog post. Videos and blog posts will begin to be shared during the week of March 30, 2020. To keep up-to-date:

March 2020

Exploring Careers while Learning at Home

We’re collecting questions about Learning at Home from teachers at all levels, and we’ll be working with experts to help get these questions answered. If you have questions, please provide them here.


Websites listed in this post are listed as examples because they are already in common use in Illinois. There is no endorsement of these companies or their services by the P-20 Network or Northern Illinois University.

Along with the physical closure of schools, work-based learning experiences have also been stopped for students. From its March 16, 2020, guidance document, the Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) clarified that students cannot participate in work-based learning experiences in the field with workplace partners.

ISBE - No Internships - 03162020

Does this mean that students cannot meaningfully engage in exploring careers while learning at home? Actually, E-Learning presents a wonderful opportunity to engage in further career exploration for students. Ideas for learning more about careers while learning at home include:

  • Using online tools to conduct their own research about careers about which they would like to learn more, including what type of postsecondary education to obtain a position in the career, what the workplace environment looks and feels like, how much money one is able to earn both when new in the career and later with more experience, and most importantly, how the career matches with the students’ personal and career interests as well as with regional occupational needs. If your school district uses a tool like Xello or YouScience, now is a great time to have students dive into their results and do some additional exploration.

Xello - Explore Careers

  • Students can also conduct interviews or do additional research into the more behind-the-scenes elements of different careers in which they might be interested to fully understand what those careers entail on a daily basis. In many cases, students have a deeper understanding of the careers of their parents or other adult family members as well as teachers. Beyond that, most students do not see the daily inner-workings of most careers. Movies and television not only leave out most careers and focus on specifically high-profile careers in very dramatic ways, such as law enforcement, paramedics, and frontline medical professions, such as doctors and nurses. Even with the large number of movies and television shows focused on these careers, large portions of the daily work routine in those fields are typically left out. Hours of documentation and paperwork each day is part of real life, but it does not make for dramatic viewing. Even when other careers are highlighted in movies and television, such as the scene below from Apollo 13 that shows engineers tackling a life-threatening problem, leave out the years of detailed, mundane creation and testing that these same engineers did prior to the launch of Apollo 13.
  • Use the curriculum of your course as a jump-off for career exploration – As we replace some of the face-to-face collaborative activities, labs, and other lessons that we would have been doing with in-person teaching that we have not yet figured out how to effectively move online or to students’ homes, take advantage of this opportunity to use your curriculum as a jumping off point for further exploration. Certainly, it is a great opportunity to explore the curriculum further and/or in unique personalized ways with independent research and creative, original products. It is also a great opportunity for students to explore careers related to this curriculum. While this may be a teacher-initiated career exploration, there is a great deal of room for individual student choice within this work as well as for students to create a wide range of products that can inform other students in other places and in the future about career options. This also a great opportunity for community partners of local school districts to provide information about their careers via video chats using tools like YouTube Live. (It takes 24 hours for YouTube to verify an account to allow it to broadcast live, so one does need to plan in advance).

YouTubeLive

  • Remote College & Career Counseling – Despite the fact that nearly all teachers and staff and counselors and advisors are working from home, in some ways, this is a better opportunity than a normal March or April to provide students with during-the-day college and career counseling. In many cases, engaging with students and parents together may be easier than it would normally be, as well. Remote college and career counseling can certainly take advantage of today’s technological tools, live video chat through Google Hangouts Meet, Microsoft Teams, or some other tool, but it can also take place via a phone call, enabling nearly all students and families to take advantage of this opportunity. In the example below from Maine West High School, Maine Township High School District 207 staff members walk students and families through the steps that they have created, and which others can replicate, to provide remote college and career counseling. (It is important to note that, in addition to the video here, the slide deck is publicly available and has been widely shared on social media to engage students, such as this Instagram post from Maine East High School.)
March 2020