Career Exploration + Professional Skill Development

Published Spring 2023

Preparing students for the workplaces and careers of today and tomorrow

At Two Rivers High School, students are getting a head start on their career paths with hands-on, immersive learning experiences. Through the TriDistrict CAPS (Centers for Advanced Professional Studies), students gain exposure to different career fields and prepare for the workforce or college education—while still in high school.

A Collaborative Effort
TriDistrict CAPS is a program of the TriDistrict Career and College Readiness Initiative, a partnership between the school districts of South St. Paul, Inver Grove Heights, and School District 197. This collaborative partnership ensures juniors and seniors in the program graduate with a plan for their “next step” and have the knowledge, skills, and experiences to be successful wherever their chosen pathway takes them. Nearly 120 students are participating in internships across 40 local business partners this year.

"One of our main goals is to fast-forward kids into authentic experiences into what they might want to do in the future,” says Ben Kusch, Director of TriDistrict CAPS. “It’s a place where students can work alongside employees of local businesses, dip their hands into whatever field they are interested in, and decide if they like that career.”

Learning By Doing
TriDistrict CAPS offers students four courses in Healthcare, Transportation and Skilled Trades, Business and Entrepreneurship, and Information Technology/Computer Science.

Once students select their interest area, they spend their first semester at a program business partner’s work site, immersed in that environment. During their second semester, students put lessons learned from their first semester into practice in an internship. The internship experience aims to provide students with the opportunity to gain real-world, hands-on work experience in professional work environments that relate to their academic and career interests. 

Intentional Experiences
There are seven programs like the TriDistrict CAPS program in Minnesota and 95 across the world. What makes our program unique is the in-depth partner engagement, career exploration opportunities, and interdisciplinary classroom experience—all while earning high school and college credit. 

Ben says anyone can participate as long as they are on the path to graduating from high school. “There are no academic or GPA requirements,” Ben shared. “The ideal candidate is curious, motivated, and wants to be a positive part of the school and global community.”

Interested in Learning More?
Contact TriDistrict CAPS Program Director, Ben Kusch, at with any questions.

Exploring and Discovering: Student Feature

Deciding what to do after high school can be a challenging decision. Diane Cruz Mejia, a Two Rivers High School senior, knew college was an option—but hadn’t narrowed in on any clear-cut interests or career path.

After a semester in the TriDistrict CAPS program, her pathway after high school became clearer. “I chose the Business and Entrepreneurship pathway because I wanted to see what it was about,” Diane shared. “From there, communications and marketing stood out to me as something I was interested in.”

A field trip to Haworth Media & Marketing in Downtown Minneapolis solidified her decision. “Learning about the different roles and opportunities in a marketing agency was motivating,” Diane shared. “There’s never a shortage of problems to solve, and that’s exciting.”

Now, Diane is completing her internship for the TriDistrict CAPS program—promoting the program to students for next year. From there, Diane is heading to the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, in the fall.