Bridging Tech Talent from High School… to College… to Career

Bridging Tech Talent from High School… to College… to Career

Today’s information technology (IT) career exploration, builds the bridge to tomorrow’s IT talent development and acquisition strategies.  Through their job shadow partnering efforts, the Minnesota Aspirations and Computing Awards (MNAiC) Program boosts the skills, passion and engagement of high school aged young women with technology interests.  Now in its sixth season, MNAiC matches companies with young women who have demonstrated a genuine interest to learn more about working in various technology roles critical to business success. Nearly 100 job shadow experiences have occurred, many leading to higher levels of award recognition, summer paid internships, acquisition of technical knowledge, development of professional (soft) skills, and early entry into Minnesota’s IT talent pipeline.


L to R: Ed Tilford (Thomson Reuters), Corinn Sievwright, Eagan High School, Petra Asani, Eastview High School in Apple Valley, and Matt Engstrom (Thomson Reuters)


The 2018 MNAiC Summer Program features thirty-four job shadow matches with IT professionals from a host of Twin Cities companies.  During the months of June and July, many of the enrolled students benefited from the guidance of IT professionals from Cargill, Land O’Lakes, Merrill Corporation, Prime Therapeutics, Target, Thomson Reuters, US Bank, and Veritas Technologies.  In August, another group of students will discover the exciting and impactful work of various Twin Cities area IT professionals.  All of the high school students were recognized at various award levels as Aspirations in Computing Honorees.


L to R: Shawn Stavseth (Cargill), Nora Dixon, Eagan High School, Nicole Leners (Cargill), Gabriela Borja (Cargill). Nora job shadowed women in Cargill Digital Labs, a technology innovation center.


Participating students had this to say about the experience:

"I liked that we were able to watch how a team at the company actually conducts day to day operations. It was very interesting to see that."

"I really enjoyed getting to see the different ways that the team worked on projects together and how programming works when it's more than one person writing the code and even when people all around the world are working on the same project.”

“Heather introduced me to many people at the company and I was able to have a lot of conversations. As well as learning about the company, they were all very helpful and gave me useful career and college advice.”

“I liked being able to converse with a variety of people in the IT department, and learning about the life cycle of an application. It helped in getting an idea of the interaction of the roles involved.”

“I really liked how I got to see a lot of what an actual day on the job looks like, rather than highlights of what the company would view as the most interesting to students. It was also nice to spend the day getting to know just a few people so I could really understand what the job is like for them.”


L to R: Kasturi Jog and Madeleine Filloux (Land O’Lakes), Tien VoNguyen (Land O’Lakes Intern – 2017 Aspirations Honoree), Anna Heebsh, Totino Grace High School in Fridley, Fiona Chow (Land O’Lakes Intern – 2018 Aspirations Honoree from Burnsville High School), Eilene Olesen and Brianne Sprenger (Land O’Lakes).  Also participating but not pictured is Stuti Arora ( Land O’Lakes Intern – 2018 Aspirations Honoree from Maple Grove Senior High School)


Participating technology professionals shared their observations about the experience and offered advice for individuals/companies that become engaged in the future:


“We were thoroughly impressed with both of the students. They were genuinely interested in the experience and brought forward great questions.”


“Both students were polite, respectful, poised, and curious.  Whoever assessed the students needs and matched with my offering did an excellent job.  I probably would have built in more breaks for the students besides lunch.”


“Getting a chance to touch base with the honoree beforehand so we could tailor it to what she was looking for. Getting younger folks at our workplace to be part of the experience.”


“Have a variety of individual meetings for the person coming in to learn about multiple career paths during her visit.”


“The selection of the student was excellent. She was engaged, on time, personable, interested, engaging and seemed to benefit from the experience. Made it much easier to take time out of my busy work schedule to accommodate this.”


L to R: David Sagisser and Kristi Portugue (Prime Therapeutics) Kajsa Arnold, Mayo High School in Rochester, Petra Asani, Eastview High School in Apple Valley, Anusha Sharma, Eagan High School, Brittany Paulson and Sue Stewart (Prime Therapeutics)

L to R: David Sagisser and Kristi Portugue (Prime Therapeutics) Kajsa Arnold, Mayo High School in Rochester, Petra Asani, Eastview High School in Apple Valley, Anusha Sharma, Eagan High School, Brittany Paulson and Sue Stewart (Prime Therapeutics)


The Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence and the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Awards Program are sincerely grateful for the many individuals from the participating companies who made a personal and professional commitment to guide students, and to provide engaging learning experiences.  Many of the students have indicated an interest to re-apply for the Aspirations in Computing Awards Program. The next round of applications will be accepted September 1 through November 5, 2018.


Athena Roscoe, Aspirations Honoree from East Ridge High School in Woodbury proudly displays an Minnesota Aspirations in Computing poster. US Bank staff pictured L to R are: Jacob Conklin, David Ferguson, Kitty Troullier-Lynch, Cathy St. Martin, Tom Hansen, Bounna Southaya, and Torie Wise


Students: For more information about the award application, visit the Aspirations in Computing page.

Employers: There are many ways you can support initiatives to influence young women to become our next, best Minnesota-grown technology talent.  Learn more about how to become an Aspirations in Computing Sponsor.

 L to R:  Petra Asani, Eastview High School in Apple Valley enjoys her job shadow experience with Nicole White, US Bank.