DMACC Career Academy's Learn & Earn Program is a Win-Win for Business and Students


DMACC is committed to seeing students and businesses in Iowa succeed. So, when we can support students AND businesses at the same time, we get very excited. That was the case when DMACC Business Resources, DMACC Work-Based Learning, DMACC High School Programs, and Van Maanen Electric worked together to provide a local high school student the opportunity to gain on-the-job training and experience this summer.   

The Career Academy Learn & Earn is a program that gives Career Academy students an opportunity to utilize the skills they are learning in the classroom and learn firsthand about an industry. Students apply and, if selected, are matched with a local business to spend the summer working and getting paid while continuing to improve their technical and employability skills. Interested students complete an application and submit their resume for review by the Work Based Learning team. Instructors also provide input about student strengths through a referral survey.  Once accepted to the Earn & Learn program, the WBL team shares information about potential employers and gives students the opportunity to select which businesses they are interested in learning more about. From there, students meet with employers and if there is a match, complete their hiring process.  

DBR Business Consultants have their finger on the pulse of what Central Iowa businesses are experiencing – what support they might need, issues that they may be facing, and how to connect them with resources both within DMACC and with other partners.  

Van Maanen Electric became involved with the Learn & Earn program when their DBR Business Consultant reached out to their Human Resources department to see if they had any opportunities for students. Tammi DeJong, Van Maanen’s Human Resources Director, knew from experience that in order to ​​get people interested in the trades you needed to get high school students involved. She responded to the DBR Business Consultant eager for Van Maanen to participate.  

Van Maanen was eventually matched with high school student, Libby. Libby was very excited to work and learn at Van Maanen on the technology side of the business which focuses on smaller, lower voltage, job sites.  

“There are limitations when working with students who are under 18 from a safety standpoint. They are restricted from performing hazardous tasks, but there is still so much to gain by participating in the Learn & Earn program,” shared DeJong. “We have noticed declining interest in construction trades in general. We don’t just need workers, we need high-quality, skilled workers and this gives students who might just be curious a taste of what they could expect if they pursued the field.”  

By participating in the Learn & Earn program Libby learned about and gained experience in an in-demand field, earned a competitive wage while working 40 hours a week, and hands-on experience which gives her an advantage when applying to future employers. Van Maanen gained a potential future high-quality employee while keeping on boarding costs low, and they were able to hear some fresh ideas from Libby – a female in the trades – perspective. 

“This truly was a win-win partnership for Van Maanen and our student employee. We’re grateful to have DMACC and the support of our local DBR Business Consultant as we continue to work and grow in Iowa,” DeJong said of the program.  

DMACC will continue to foster these relationships with local businesses and students to ensure the success of everyone involved.  If you are interested in learning more about the DMACC Career Academy Learn & Earn program or other workforce solutions, contact DMACC Business Resources at​ or DMACC Work Based Learning at ​