The Minnesota State – IT Center of Excellence (formerly Advance IT Minnesota knows first-hand about the challenges that businesses and organizations continually face to acquire top information technology (IT) talent. We know that Minnesota employer concerns regarding talent shortages is as real today, as it will be in for the foreseeable future. And, we also know one of the surest ways to address near and long-range talent needs is to collaborate with strategic partners to increase the sheer number of youth, and in some cases the type of youth, who intentionally choose a technology education and career pathway.
Queue in the Minnesota Aspirations in Computing (MNAiC) Award program which honors women in grades 9 through 12 who are active and interested in computing and technology, and encourages them to pursue their passions. The program is now entering its sixth year of employer engaged success, thus far having impacted 145 award honorees, and countless other young-women in Minnesota high schools who have demonstrated interests ranging from being technology curious, to becoming ultra-committed.
The IT Center of Excellence and its many partners, possess a long-held belief that one of the surest ways to fill the IT talent pipeline is by educating, supporting and mentoring young women along the winding, restless road from high school, through college, and to career. To that end, since 2012, 48 businesses/organizations have provided full to part-day job shadow experiences, impacting 38 students. In 2017 alone, 14 award honorees were paid by Minnesota businesses to join their ranks of college age summer interns. And, four students received $1,000 scholarships to attend area colleges.
It’s clear that talent development success resides at the robust crossroad where employers, IT development providers, educators, technology professionals, and students intersect. This is why the #MNGirlsDisruptTECH campaign was developed. Young women in grades 9 to 12 across the state are challenged to embrace their interests and aspirations in computing, step out into the limelight and join the movement to build gender equity in Tech by applying for the Aspirations in Computing (AiC) Awards — winners from the state and national level are awarded life changing opportunities that include scholarships, internships, job shadow experiences, mentor relationships, resources and much more.
It goes without saying that the MNAiC program would not be as effective at its mission to improve gender diversity and inclusion in tech without generous partners and sponsors. Employer engagement has inspired and influenced a 300% increase in program participation over a 5 year period. And 42% of MNAIC applicants merited national and state recognition, and of that 14 were hired by Minnesota businesses as summer interns.
With continued support, young women in Minnesota can begin to gain the equity needed to become the next, best Minnesota-grown technology talent. These are the different ways your organization can get engaged:
Additional award program sponsors and partners are needed. Support the #MNGirlsDisruptTECH Challenge today!
In all, we thank the following employers and organizations for their active involvement and financial generosity to help ensure the IT pipeline possesses plentiful, high-quality young professionals who strengthen Minnesota’s business climate and competitive edge.
STEM Fuse, Target, SPS Commerce, Upper Midwest Security Alliance, Land O’Lakes, Best Buy, Maverick Software Consulting, Veritas Technologies, Thomson Reuters, General Mills, Unisys, Twin Cities Chapter of the Association for Women in Computing, Pearson VUE, HelpSystems, SUPERVALU, Metropolitan State University – Institute for Professional Development, National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), PeopleNet, Securian, ESP IT, Logic PD, Minnesota Computers for Schools, Microsoft, Girls in Tech – Twin Cities, Nerdery, Information Systems Security Association, Prime Therapeutics, Minnesota High Tech Association-Women Leading in Technology, BDPA – Twin Cities, TECHdotMN, Genesys Works, COCO, College of St. Scholastica, Collective.ly Digital.