Waukee APEX Program Offers High School Students Real World Experience in Careers

WAUKEE, Iowa, -- Students at Waukee Community Schools use a program to explore their passions and find career paths.

Waukee APEX gives high school junior and seniors the opportunity to earn high school and college credit, and get hands on experience through internships.

Waukee APEX Engineering Instructor Tyler Wright said, “The reason that we wanted to have a professional experience for our high school students is because a lot of businesses have identified that their new hires are missing a lot of the skills relevant to being successful business professionals.”

Students learn a variety of skills like: critical thinking, complex communication, creativity, collaboration, flexibility and adaptability, productivity and accountability, servant leadership, customer service, career exploration, leadership, entrepreneurialism and ethics.

Waukee APEX Director Michelle Hill said students learn the basics when it comes to working in a professional setting.

“A lot of them really struggle sometimes when a problem comes up and they instantly want to just shut down. We say no that’s not how it works here. We have stakeholders that are relying on you and let’s figure out how we can break it down. What we can do to provide you with resources or experts that will help you get through any problem you might come across,” Hill said.

The program is divided into five sectors of career exploration. Those include: finance, banking, investments, business, technology, communications, engineering, human services, bioscience and agriculture.

Waukee High School Junior Maverick Taylor said the program has helped him figure out what to study in college. He hopes to become a robotics engineer.

“I really like the design process, but I also really enjoy the hands on, which is the opportunity that is given by the APEX program. I get to actually get to be hands on with the projects that I work on,” Taylor said.

Waukee APEX has had around 550 partnerships with organizations and companies over the last five years.

Accumold HR Manager Michelle Price said the company has hired its first intern for the summer that came from the Waukee APEX program.

“So, whether it is the communication side I think also really the project management, meeting deadlines, working with professionals. Knowing what that experience feels like is just helping better prepare them for the next step,” Price said.

Other Schools that partner with Waukee for the program include: Johnston, Van Meter, Adel DeSoto Minburn, Norwalk, Panorama and Dallas-Center Grimes.

There are no GPA requirements for students to enroll. Students are asked to speak with their school counselor about signing up for the program.

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