Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Yvonne Boose – Radio Journalist

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 episode, we interview Yvonne Boose, who today is a radio journalist at WNIJ, a public radio station that is based at Northern Illinois University. During her senior year at Bogan High School, Yvonne took her Grandfather advice. She went on to study Speech Communication at Chicago State University, where she learned radio and television production.

After graduating with her Bachelor’s Degree, Yvonne began working in customer service for Ameritech, a large telecommunications company in the Midwest at that time that was formerly part of AT&T and remain connected to AT&T in a number of ways. While Yvonne continued to earn promotions for her work, she also continued to desire a career in journalism. During this time period, she was able to begin an internship with AT&T Cable where she covered local stories on a television show called Hometown Edition. This internship confirmed for Yvonne that she did want to pursue journalism, so she went to Roosevelt University and earned a Master’s Degree in journalism. With her Master’s Degree, she obtained another internship at Beacon News in Aurora before moving into her current role at WNIJ.

Yvonne’s work as a journalist is part of the Arts & Communication Career Pathway.

In this video, Yvonne shares how her customer service skills have helped her make connections as a journalist with sources that are critical to telling honest and complete stories. She also talks about the need for students to be willing to take up volunteer and internship positions in order to build their experiences. Yvonne emphasizes that the following skills are critical to have success as a journalist: integrity, the ability to build honest and positive relationships with others, strong listening skills, robust organizational skills, the ability to accept feedback with a positive attitude, and having a hunger for new knowledge.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads episode with journalist Yvonne Boose.

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

January 2021

The Essential Skills – A Brief Overview + An Activity

NIU STEAM continues to provide leadership and resources with regards to providing students with learning opportunities related to the Cross-Sector Essential Employability Skills, also known as the Essential Skills.

Essential Skills

The Essential Skills and career exploration are increasingly being built into a wide range of NIU STEAM activities. As more and more students also benefit from these type of College and Career Readiness activities in Illinois schools, the alignment between enrichment activities through NIU STEAM and their regular work in school will further deepen and enhance students’ essential skillset.

For this activity, students begin by watching this short introduction to the Essential Skills that is on YouTube and is less than 10 minutes in length.

Then, students are introduced to the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video series on YouTube. Students are asked to scroll through the video titles and descriptions and select 5 that are most interesting to them.

Then, students will watch the five videos that they have selected and use this NIU STEAM Essential Skills Checklist to identify which of the Essential Skills are evident in which of the videos.

Finally, in small groups or as a class, students should analyze the results of their survey of the Essential Skills across the Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads videos, identifying the frequency with which different Essential Skills appear as well as any patterns that they may discover between highlighted Essential Skills and different Career Pathways.

December 2020

Career Pathways Student Conversations – Geneseo High School

Earlier in December, Travis Mackey, the principal at Geneseo (IL) High School, presented to the Illinois P-20 Network’s Career Pathways User Group about the development and use of the Alumni Career Connections feature of the Geneseo H.S. website.

As a follow-up, we met with four high school seniors from Geneseo High School to learn from them about their plans for postsecondary education and careers and to gain a better understanding of how they use their Alumni Career Connections tool. As is essentially always the case when listening to students speak about their experiences, there are a wide range of lessons shared by these students for educators to consider when planning in their own schools.

At the time of the publication of this video and blog post in December 2020, three of the four high school seniors were still in the process of finalizing their postsecondary plans. In each case, these students are planning on attending four-year universities, though these students recognized the importance of career exploration for all students and the important role that a wide range of postsecondary education options play in serving all students today.

Looking to the future, ultimately, all four of these high school seniors were steadfast in their commitment to prioritizing a love for one’s work and the need to make a difference for others as the ultimate considerations in selecting their careers and courses of study to prepare them for success in these careers.

December 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Cora Pauli – Electrical Engineer

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 episode, we interview Cora Pauli, who is an electrical engineer at HBK Engineering. HBK Engineering is regarded as one of COMED’s three most preferred companies to work with for project design. At an early age, Cora realized her love for mathematics and science and took the advice of her high school swimming coach at Amos Alonzo Stagg High School to study engineering in college. While in college, she interned with an engineering company where she learned about designing electrical distribution systems as well as learning AutoCAD. This experience contributed to her career choice as an electrical engineer.  In her current role at HBK Engineering, Cora works in the power sector and handles projects that focus on the design of electrical distribution systems, specifically Cora’s work focuses on what takes place between the electrical substation and the customer’s business or home.

The work that Cora does on a daily basis is a part of the Manufacturing, Engineering, Technology, and Trades Career Pathway.

In this video, Cora shares with us some interesting facts about being a woman in the STEM field. She also talks about the need for young graduates who are interested in this field to love numbers and understand the basics of electrical engineering but to also possess a strong willingness to learn and ask questions. In addition to being forthcoming with questions, other essential skills for new electrical engineers to have include strong problem solving and communication skills. From crawling through manhole covers under streets in Downtown Chicago to projects that take place in Illinois’ corn and soybean fields, Cora is pleased to help provide people with consistent, reliable electricity using modern tools, like connected gear.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video with electrical engineer Cora Pauli.

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

December 2020

An Integrated, Comprehensive Approach to Career Readiness

Maine Township High School District 207, located in Park Ridge and Des Plaines, Illinois just north of O’Hare Airport, has developed a comprehensive approach to career readiness with its Integrated Career Services Team and their work with students, teachers and counselors, and community partners.

A meaningful career experience for
each student, each year.

Ken Wallace, Maine 207 Superintendent

Over the past five years, Maine 207 has focused on the development of career readiness that is:

  • accessible for all students and for each student
  • integrated throughout the school day
  • diverse in experiences from guest speakers in classes and clubs to paid internships
  • aligned with workforce needs in our communities and is aligned with students’ interests and passions
  • engaging for community members and organizations through their partnerships with the school district and their work with students

Connecting with Community Partners

In addition to the superintendent, the district’s leadership team, and the high school principals, the Integrated Career Services Team provides a very important public face for Maine 207 with the community. The Integrated Services Team creates and sustains relationships with business partners that engage in everything from serving as guest speakers to providing full internship experiences with students. To date, Maine 207 has developed a network of 700 community partners. Acknowledging that this number and range of partnerships may not be the same in our diverse communities across Illinois, all school districts already have relationships with businesses and community groups. Those relationships can and should be leveraged into real partnerships to support student learning generally and career experiences specifically.

Intentional Planning that Builds Over Time for Students

As can be seen in the two images below from the Maine 207 Integrated Career Services Team, the district’s work around career readiness focuses on long-term planning that extends into the middle schools and that builds upon itself with each passing year of high school.

In each of the above examples, the experiences start out as shorter experiences designed, over the course of multiple experiences, to give students an understanding of a broad range of potential careers. This is both developmentally appropriate for most ninth and tenth grade students, and it recognizes that, coming into high school, most students have a very limited understanding of what different careers and workplaces look and feel like in-action. Often times, younger high school students only have an intimate knowledge of the careers of their own adult family members, some other adults that they may know well, and their teachers. Even in these cases, they are likely to only have a limited, more superficial understanding of these careers. The approach taken by Maine 207’s plan is designed to address this head-on by potentially providing students with a strong foundation across many different career pathways. Starting ninth and tenth graders with everything from guest speakers to field trips to volunteer opportunities is also flexible enough to allow individual students to start focusing more specifically on individual career pathways in which they already think they have a greater interest.

Connecting Career Readiness to Engaging Instruction

Importantly, the career readiness activities also integrate with Maine 207’s focus on ensuring that all classes are designed around highly engaging learning. As career experiences are integrated into a wide range of classes, there are opportunities for teachers to more effectively and easily design instruction around authentic learning opportunities that allow students to both learn about careers and to learn concepts, content, and skills more deeply.

A Series and Sequence of Career Experiences

As students move into eleventh and twelfth grades, there are increasingly opportunities for more in-depth work-based learning experiences. These are varied as they allow for the different needs of students, the different natures of different careers and workplaces, and the different requirements and capacities of various partners.

As mentioned earlier, guest speakers are invited in to classrooms throughout the schools and across all grade levels. While Maine 207 has long been a worldwide leader in educational technology including being Google’s original school district partner for Google Apps (known today as Google Workplace), schools far-and-wide have become comfortable with online meetings and classes as a result of the pandemic. The increased access to technology and acceptance of remote meeting and learning tools has made engaging guest speakers with students easier than ever before. Additionally, these same tools allow even more students to benefit from a guest speaker than was previously the case as a result of being able to have more than 25-30 students in the “room” with the students and as a result of being able to record a session with a guest speaker and share it with students later.

Career Treks and Job Shadowing experiences provide more in-depth opportunities to interact with professionals and to see and understand workplaces. As the slides above from the Maine 207 Integrated Career Services Team remind:

  • These experiences can take advantage of other already-established programs, such as Junior Achievement.
  • These experiences can and should take place in businesses, but they can and should also take place in other organizations, including other governmental agencies and in our own school districts. (Many Illinois school districts have started job shadowing and internships with their own Operations, Information Technology, and Business Services staffs. Of course, many Illinois school districts also do not have one or more of these key areas in-house as standalone departments due to either their size or available resources.)

Maine Township High School District 207 offers students both formal and informal internship opportunities. The formal internship is structured around a scheduled class period. In this scenario, the student and the school internship supervisor meet one period per week to check-in and discuss the internship. The informal internship does not include that scheduled class period and weekly check-in. There are a variety of options for when students actually participate in their internships, both during and beyond the school day, and these scenarios are based on both the student’s needs as well as the needs and parameters in place with the organization providing the internship. Maine 207 has approximately 450 students participating in formal internships, and there are additional students participating in informal internships. Between 5 and 15% of the internships have been paid internships.

For more information…

Maine Township High School District 207 Career Exploration website
The Maine 207 Career Exploration website provides up-to-date information on upcoming events as well as dashboards for students and parents, community partners, and staff members. Additionally, staff member information is available, including the opportunity to schedule meetings directly with the team members.

The Integrated Career Services Team at Maine East, Maine West, and Maine South High Schools also actively posts information on Instagram as another medium from which they can communicate with students in addition to the website, emails, and school announcements.

November 2020

Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads – Miles Robinson – VR QA Analyst

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 episode, we interview Miles Robinson, who is a Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst on Facebook’s Oculus team. Oculus has been widely regarded as the leading virtual reality (VR) headset technology, and the QA team plays an incredibly important role in trying to minimize the bugs that are released in the complex combination of hardware and software. Miles grew up in Chicago and attended Whitney Young High School and studied pre-law as an undergraduate while also learning coding and software development, building on a long-time interest in computers and information technology (and video games). After earning his Bachelor’s Degree, Miles engaged in a submersive experience to learn software development in great detail that led to his career in IT and ultimately to his current role at Facebook.

The work Miles does on a daily basis is part of the Information Technology Career Pathway.

In this video, Miles stresses the importance of being adaptable and a team player. Miles also emphasizes that coding is not easy. It is complex work that requires a significant amount of study and a high degree of perseverance. At the same time, Miles strongly suggests that if you believe in yourself and do the hard work, you can be successful with this type of job.

Watch this Career Pathways Virtual Trailheads video with Virtual Reality Quality Assurance Analyst Miles Robinson.

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

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

The Career Development Toolkit from Ed Systems Center

Through a collaboration with the Illinois State Board of Education and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Education Systems Center has released the Career Development Toolkit. The Toolkit is aligned to the frameworks established in the Postsecondary and Workforce Readiness (PWR) Act. The Career Development Toolkit provides a comprehensive framework and roadmap for helping educators through all of the steps and considerations in providing meaningful career experiences – from the creation of internships that align with the Career Pathway Endorsements to thinking through necessary detailed logistics.

For support in using the Career Development Toolkit and in implementing Career Pathway Endorsements, contact us or Heather Penczak at Northern Illinois University’s Education Systems Center.

November 2019