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Getting ready for the next step: College and career readiness

Angel Aguilar is a senior at St. Louis Park High School. He is a part of Cultura en Vivo and enjoys physics. He has been thinking about his future, and stopped by the Career and College Center for the first time. 

“I like working with people and helping out in some way. It is very motivating to feel good about doing something. I’m looking at Mankato, and I’m just trying to figure out what I want to do,” Aguilar said before his meeting.

The Career and College Center was developed to serve as a resource for students to learn more about the skills they need to find, acquire, maintain and grow within a job or career. Whether students are looking to move on to college or try something in the trades, the Career and College Center is a great place for students to learn more. Not only can students schedule appointments like Aguilar, but there are many other services they can use to prepare for their futures.

Kara Mueller has been with St. Louis Park Public Schools for 30 years and is the coordinator of the career and college readiness program. Over time, she moved around the district with a strong mission of helping students to learn more about themselves and what types of career paths they could pursue.

“Career and tech education (CTE) is awesome. CTE is an opportunity to bring reality of what the work world looks like into our classrooms, but it also gives us the opportunity to create work-based learning opportunities outside of the classroom,” Mueller shared. 

Two teachers committed to receive additional licensure in CTE to prove industry credentials and knowledge. As a result, St. Louis Park High School has been able to provide hands-on opportunities for students to get active in a certified nursing assistant program, health science, engineering and more.

Throughout these courses, students are learning skills that transfer to all fields. Though engineering is technically specific, engineering teacher Mark Miller is preparing students to have strong work ethic, problem solving and teamwork skills. All these skills are among the top sought after abilities by employers.

“This is a part of the engineering process. Things mess up and you have to fix them,” said Eleanor Kroells, one of the students in Miller’s class.

In addition to what students learn in a classroom setting, there are a number of ways to learn more about careers through work-based experiences. There are also professionals on the Career Pathway Advisory Board who share industry expertise. The advisory board was started more than 20 years ago, and many of the board members provide opportunities for students to conduct informational interviews, shadow or intern at their work sites. More than 30 professionals meet several times throughout the year to find ways to empower students to explore and engage in the field.

“There are board members representing each pathway. We have medical, business, law and public policy, education, engineering, computer science and manufacturing. It was our advisory board that helped to get our school store up and running,” Mueller explained. 

The school store, DECA STORiole, started as the learning laboratory for students in marketing. It has since expanded to include business and more areas of learning. Each year students work to create business models and develop products that help them to understand what it takes to run a business. 

The advisory board continues to focus on supporting students, teachers and staff on matters relating to career planning and successful transitions into the workforce and post-secondary education. Prior to the pandemic, the board would host a career conversations meeting where students could meet with board members for 15-20 minutes to ask education and career related questions. This year the Career Pathways Advisory Board is looking at new ways to engage with students. 

If you are interested in serving on the Career Pathways Advisory Board or would like to learn more about the College and Career Readiness program, contact Kara Mueller at