By Kiah Eide and Miriam Osman
Throughout January and February, more than 100 students from Minneapolis public high schools attended eight Project Success College and Career tours, a new initiative of the Project Success Institute. Students visited both colleges and a variety of work places to explore careers in healthcare, coding, cosmetology, art, wellness, culinary arts and food justice. This new programming connects our Certificates program and our College Tours to deepen the impact of our diverse programs for students.
All of our tours are designed to help students think critically about their post-secondary options and open new doors for their futures. Our traditional College Tours offer students opportunities to explore a diverse array of schools, colleges, and universities and to discover whether college is the right fit for them. The College and Career tours ignite new career possibilities for our students as students explore their post-secondary opportunities and connect with real life professionals to deepen their understanding of particular fields or career options. Through these tours they can discover that success looks different for everybody and that there is more than one pathway to success. As James Rone, PS Institute Program Manager said, “While there’s a lot of value when we invite panelists to talk about their work lives, there’s something indescribable about being around professionals who are doing their jobs. It becomes easier to imagine yourself in that space, and a barrier has been removed: the barrier you create when you stop yourself from imagining yourself living a different kind of life from the one you live now.”
Day One: Coding, Medicine, and Culinary Exploration
The first day of College and Career tours took different groups of students on culinary, medical, and coding-specific tours. At Hennepin Technical College, students heard about specific programming from faculty before exploring the campus, their commercial kitchens, and test restaurant. Then they headed to D’Amico Catering for an informative presentation and tour with D’Amico’s Executive Chef, where multiple students were able to speak with him about internship possibilities with D’Amico. Finally, students visited Urban Roots, where they were engaged in deep discussions about food access and food justice.
Another group of students headed to North Hennepin Community College and then had an in-depth behind-the-scenes tour at Abbot Northwestern Hospital. They experienced what it’s like to be surgical technicians and they explored surgical and radiological technician careers.
Finally, a third group visited Dunwoody College of Technology, followed by an informative presentation and tour of BlueEarth, a software solutions company, where a panel of IT professionals of varying backgrounds gave insight on what a day in the life is like for them and the pathway they took to get to their careers.
Day Two: Spanish Language Tour, Cosmetology, and Art
The second day of tours took students to Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) for a Spanish language tour, where the Latinx student recruiter led a powerhouse presentation opening up deep and engaging questions both in Spanish and English about post-secondary options.
A second group explored the world of cosmetology school, with a tour and presentation at the Aveda Institute in the morning and an incredibly personable student panel, presentation, and a hands-on-experience about the industry at Empire Beauty School in the afternoon.
A final group went on a tour of the Minneapolis College of Art and Design where students created zines about their post-secondary options. One student with an interest in animation told PS Facilitator Ryan Weldon that he could really see himself at MCAD after touring their 2D and 3D animation lab. Next, PS staff brought students over to the Minneapolis Institute of Art for self-exploration and reflection time.
Day Three: Nursing and Healthcare, Wellness, and Coding
The last day of College and Career tours brought students to the University of Minnesota for an admissions presentation specific to the School of Nursing and a tour of the Nursing School Labs. Next, students went to Abbot Northwestern Hospital, where they had a Q&A with nurses and took a hands-on tour of the Emergency Room. An Abbot Northwestern EMT allowed students to test out various emergency equipment such a transfer floats, enclosed safety masks, and bone cleaning spray guns.
A second group went to Normandale Community College for a tour focused on wellness, followed by a presentation at Solcana Fitness to explore a day in the life of a gym manager. Finally, a third group of students stayed at the Project Success Institute for an in-depth day of coding.
PS is creating a place for students to explore “non-traditional” pathways and, through exposure to these careers, is opening new doors and possibilities for students. Walking into a workplace and being welcomed by people ready to wholeheartedly share their stories is going beyond just reading about the job on the internet; it’s creating tangible access and possibilities. To confront Minnesota’s rising workforce shortage, PS is helping students gain the tools and opportunities to develop skills and trades, plan for their futures and identify their interests. With the help of our community’s leaders and partner organizations who work with us to provide workplace visits and tours, tactile learning opportunities, employee career panels, and more – we are building access to opportunities where students connect to their purpose.