Advancing from Technology Honoree to High School Intern to Minnesota Technologist

Minnesota Affiliate Award for aspirations in computing

Attention Minnesota businesses and organizations – if you’re searching for diverse individuals to fulfill your entry-level technology talent needs – read on!

This article features four recent Minnesota company hires who were selected as high school level Aspirations in Computing honorees, were hired as summer high school interns, became college interns, then quickly advanced to full time employment. Special congratulations to Lin Pierce with the Minnesota Twins, Maddie Sandish with SPS Commerce, as well as Fiona Chow and Amiyah Hunter with Land O’Lakes.


The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) year-round career readiness program serves high school students who identify as women, genderqueer, or non-binary. 2023 marks the 11th year of connecting high school technology talent with Minnesota companies as a talent pipeline solution. The program identifies the best and brightest technology talent in Minnesota’s high schools providing them with skill development opportunities, mentors, job shadow experiences, paid summer internships, and scholarships for those who are financially challenged.


More internships providers are being sought for summer 2023.

In 2022, remote, hybrid, and in-person internships were offered by Datasite, General Mills, Land O’Lakes, Minnesota Twins, Optum, Securian Financial, and SPS Commerce. Additional business partners are being sought in 2023 to serve the internship readiness of all Top-Tier technology honorees who express an interest in summer work. The pool of Top-Tier honorees is anticipated to be 40-45 students.


The summer 2023 internship interview and matching process occurs in March and early April.

The Minnesota State IT Center of Excellence collaborates with MNAiC internship providers to offer a high-quality experience of value to interns and Minnesota businesses and organizations.

To learn more while ensuring summer 2023 involvement, immediately contact MNAiC program leader, Boern Vang at

Introducing Four Remarkable Minnesota-grown Technologists

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Lin Pierce

a graduate of Rosemount High School and the University of Minnesota, was a 2018 MNAiC honoree.  Lin joined the Minnesota Twins technology staff as a junior data engineer a few months ago.  She claims, “Even before I began my high school internship, MNAiC provided educational resources and events allowing me to participate in opportunities around technology. Meeting past recipients of MNAiC awards and learning of their achievements made pursuing my own dreams much more realistic. My initial internship as a high school student in 2019 was life changing, providing my first glimpse of the tech work environment. The experience further reinforced and encouraged me to realize my aspirations. My second internship as a college student in 2022 prepared me as I entered the world as a college graduate. My experiences gave me direction and confidence knowing I was in an area I was passionate about, something I’ve seen many of my peers without.”


Lin states her belief of the importance and value of additional internship providers: “My own experience provided by MNAiC and their Minnesota business partners were a launching pad from which I could explore my passion for technology in its real-world application in the industry of today’s world. I know I wouldn’t have gotten this experience without the Minnesota Twins partnership to provide a summer internship. I was lucky enough to interview and receive the opportunity to intern but there are many other remarkable award recipients who weren’t. The more business partners MNAiC has, the more opportunities it will be able to provide to the next generation of driven technologists.”

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Amiyah Hunter

a graduate of Roseville Area High School and the University of Northwestern, St. Paul, was a 2019 MNAiC honoree.  Amiyah joins the Land O’Lakes IT Talent Acquisition Program (TAP). She shares, “I want to do something with website design, but I don’t have my finger on exactly what I would want to do. That is why I am so excited for the TAP program, as I get to rotate throughout roles and find out what best fits me.


She concludes by sharing, “Being involved with MNAiC gave me so much insight into what I wanted my career to look like. MNAiC shows what being committed truly is about. As a high schooler, having an internship at Land O’ Lakes, MNAiC never left my side. They support their students before, during, and after their internship experiences. Partnering with MNAiC would be the best decision!

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Maddie Sandish

a graduate of Eagan High School and Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN, was a 2018 MNAiC honoree.  Maddie was a three-time high school and college intern with SPS Commerce, initially hired as an Associate Software Engineer II and quickly promoted to a Software Engineer position.  About Maddie’s SPS Commerce experience: “My experiences as an intern gave me first-hand experience with scripting, full stack development, and tech ops / site reliability. By working as an intern, I rapidly acquired a wide breadth of technical skills through independent projects and the guidance of knowledgeable and enthusiastic mentors. Working within the technical ecosystem of SPS Commerce as an intern exposed me to important real-world tools for both development and process management which were lacking from the curriculum of my high school and college technology courses. Such a swift promotion surely wouldn’t have been possible without my history of internships begun by the Aspirations program.” 


Maddie further states, “I would highly encourage businesses and organizations to become MNAiC partners. My experiences as an aspirations intern were invaluable in my journey to becoming a full-time engineer. There are so many talented, curious, and dedicated high school students interested in technology whose potential is often underserved in collegiate settings. As a tutor for beginning programming students, I saw firsthand how many promising students became discouraged by the existing programs that didn’t support them and made them feel that they couldn’t see themselves as programmers based on the perspective of the computer science program. I likely would have felt similarly if I didn’t have my years of work with SPS to remind me that there are many more ways of being a software engineer than indicated by the program at my college. One of the best ways to make a difference in the wider perception of who can be a technologist and how to get there is to engage these motivated young people early and foster their curiosity and talents. Taking on an Aspirations intern (or several!) not only supports the technical skills of the interns; it also allows interns to begin building their networks of peers, mentors, and advocates which will support them in their professional journeys.”

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Fiona Chow

a graduate of Burnsville High School and Michigan Technological University, was a 2017/2018 MNAiC honoree. She says, “As a high school and early college intern, I was diving into the corporate world much earlier than most of my peers. My experience at Land O’Lakes gave me perspective into what it was like to work in industry, and I was able to bring my learnings back to the classroom and to school group projects. Some of the biggest takeaways from my time at Land O’Lakes were 1) how to see the bigger picture and how all the puzzle pieces (stakeholders) fit together and 2) how important company culture is to me and the difference it can make.” Fiona joins Land O’Lake’s Information Technology Talent Acquisition Program (IT TAP) as an Associate in a two-year rotational program.


When asked why it’s important for Minnesota businesses to become engaged as a MNAiC internship provider she had this to say, “It’s important to give high school students as many opportunities as possible to jump-start their career search and exploration. Many of my college peers entered college with no idea or an incorrect idea of what they wanted to study and ended up switching majors several times which pushed back their graduation date. If more students are given opportunities in high school to further explore fields and careers they are interested in, they can better learn and determine if it’s the right fit for them. I encourage all businesses and organizations to partner with MNAiC to offer internship opportunities for high school students to explore their interests and/or to offer job shadow opportunities that will give students a glance into the industry. It’s important to come together to provide these opportunities for students because they are opportunities that can come full circle and benefit everyone involved.”