MN Businesses Engage Young Women in Tech through Experiential Learning

MN Businesses Engage Young Women in Tech through Experiential Learning

Job-shadowing is rightfully touted as a career awareness activity for middle-school, high-school and college students to explore and inform career direction.  Shadowing helps students discover how textbook learning can be applied in the real world. High school students chosen as Aspirations in Computing honorees are encouraged and supported to seek out job shadow experiences.  Visiting workplaces and interacting with technologists offers invaluable opportunities for tomorrow’s workforce to learn about technical roles in an organization, and the professional skills employees need to possess to help drive business success.


Recently, a number of the 2018 Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Honorees engaged in job shadow experiences at some local companies competing for success in the global market.… and they loved IT!  So did the business professionals who were matched with young women with technology and computing aspirations. Each young woman was matched with a professional or team of professionals from Cargill, Code42, Land O’Lakes, Merrill Corporation, NetSPI, Optum, Prime Therapeutics, Target, Thomson Reuters, Unisys, US Bank, and Veritas Technologies.


Shaza Hussein, Rosemount High School, enjoys some outdoor time with Emily Bruner, US Bank in Richfield


After a ‘let’s get real’ 9a to 5p experience in an office or lab environment,  when asked how the experience influenced their thinking about technology education and career plans, the students offered many insightful perspectives.  Here what some had to say:


“The job shadow helped me to identify other areas in IT that I could possibly go into and how to navigate through college. There happened to be alumni from my future college working/interning at Cargill, so I was able to learn more about my college as well.”


“This experience helped me to understand what each position in IT really entails, so I could better judge what job would be the right fit for me.”


“I liked that we were able to watch how a team at the company actually conducts day to day operations. I really enjoyed getting to see the different ways that the team worked on projects together.


“It made me reconsider exactly what area of technology and business I plan to go into. Getting a real feel of what project management jobs are like in various departments gave me an idea of how I could orient my educational goals to meet my desired job criteria.”


Target in downtown Minneapolis hits the bullseye with their job shadow offering.  Pictured (l to r): Jaya Ramanathan, Erin Hanson, Athena Roscoe (East Ridge HS, Woodbury), Lucinda Gunelson (White Bear Lake HS), Renee Vandervelde, and Jake Krings


Aspirations honorees participating in the job shadow program were:


Since the program’s inception, 128 job shadow matches have occurred.  Some job shadow experiences have opened the door to paid internship opportunities, and in all cases they’ve been impactful experiences that enhance a student’s portfolio for scholarship applications, job interviews, and identifying career paths.   It’s thrilling to have strong student and business participation. Involved business people not only share excitement about their engaging work, they talk about their related interests, their technology journeys, as well as provide insight to students contemplating class choices, co-curricular activities and other personal and professional growth opportunties that will enhance their readliness for higher education and career.   



Hannah Carlson (l) and Andrea Neumann (r) pose with their match, Ava Masse (Eden Prairie HS) at Merrill Corporation in St. Paul


Special thanks to Jyotsna Magani, Veritas Technologies and Denise Morelock, Talent Software Services for their assistance with recruitment of mentors.   And, our sincere gratitude for the many key contacts and mentors at the following partner companies:



Long-time Minnesota Aspirations in Computing  Partner Thomson Reuters in Eagan provides a special day of learning and networking for two aspiring technologists.  Standing (l to r): Bidhya Subedi, Abigail Rechkin, Jessica Petersen, Lara Erdmann (Rosemount HS), Lucinda Gunelson (White Bear Lake HS), Nickie Wigdahl, Lavanya Gundamaraju.  Kneeling (l to r): Anna Grecco, Jamaica Lammi


When asked about their perspective on job Shadow experience with our 2018 Aspiration in Computing Honorees,  program Partners offered their thoughts, stating:

“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.”


“It was a great experience for the girls that visited us as well as our employees that participated. The girls were very engaged and curious, and appreciated the experience.”


“This was such a great experience for Code42-ers.  We would like to participate again. The girls were articulate, polite, thoughtful, and engaged.”


“I really enjoyed walking them through technical concepts that challenged them and caused them to ask questions. I hope it helped them feel more involved and solidified some of the information we discussed.”


Pictured Right: Athena Roscoe (East Ridge HS, Woodbury) and  Kate Agnew show their Aspirations glow at Optum in Eden Prairie.

Getting Involved is Easy!

STUDENTS: Now through November 5, you can apply for the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award.  If you are selected as an honoree, you’re automatically eligible to benefit from job shadow experiences.  To apply, visit the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Award page.


EMPLOYERS: Find out more about the Aspirations program and job shadow and internship opportunities by contacting Russell Fraenkel, Director of IT Career Pathways and Partnership,, 651.253.9438.



The Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Award Program partners with the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT) to honor young high school women for their computing-related achievements and interests.  The powerful story of their accomplishments does not end at a recognition ceremony in the spring of each year, it’s just beginning!  Nearly 200 young women who have been honored since the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing Program inception in 2012-2013 continue to pursue life-changing education and career opportunities and accomplish AMAZING things.  The ‘Where are they Now’ series provides wonderful illustrations of Aspirations in Action.


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