Teens: Use summer to interview about interesting job

The following column appeared in somewhat different forms, in a number of Mn newspapers during July and August, 2018.

Teens: Use Summer to Interview with an interesting job

With a month of summer remaining, here are two things that teenagers could do that would be free, fun and fulfilling: They could interview people with jobs or careers that interest them, and they could visit two- or four-year colleges or universities to learn more about what’s available.

Employers and educators are eager to help. As Shannon Full, president and CEO of TwinWest Chamber of Commerce in Plymouth, wrote, “Not only would we be receptive, but we highly encourage it.”

The goal is not for youngsters to decide this summer what job or career they want. But this is a great time to explore so that future decisions are more informed.

Families can play a critical role in all this, helping youngsters develop questions they want to ask, helping them make connections and, in some cases, providing transportation.

And knowing teens’ use of social media, young people might want to post pictures and especially interesting things they learned from talking with employers or educators. This way, others will benefit from their interviews.

Youngsters might start by interviewing family friends with jobs that interest them, or they could contact various employers and business organizations, which are eager to help.

Laura Bordelon, senior vice president for advocacy at the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, told me, “There is clearly enthusiasm among employers to help students learn what job opportunities are available in their communities.” Here is a link to information about what’s being done in several communities: https://bit.ly/2Jerywd. In Waconia, for example, the manufacturers and health care industries have reached out to schools to help young people learn more about local jobs and careers.

Bordelon explained: “Many local chambers are leading efforts to expose students to career opportunities. Check your local chamber website to find out how you can become involved.”

The TwinWest Chamber of Commerce would welcome the chance to help youngsters talk with employers.

Andrea Ferstan, TwinWest’s vice president of talent and workforce, wrote: “TwinWest recognizes the critical importance of career connected learning experiences that support early career exploration, skill building and development of social networks. To this end, we launched a beta software platform … that will seamlessly connect students, parents and educators with businesses to further explore careers and future opportunities.” Find more information here: https://bit.ly/2JeejLR.

Counties employ thousands of Minnesotans, so I asked officials in various counties if their employees would be willing to talk with students this summer. Again, lots of enthusiasm.

In Dakota County, Monica Jensen, community relations director for the Dakota County At-torney’s Office, responded: “Dakota County employs about 1,900 people in a variety of ca-reers. Staff would be interested in sharing their experience as well as information about their career. If interested, go to www.co.dakota.mn.us or (send) an email to jobs@co.dakota.mn.us and list your areas of interest.”

Carolyn Marinan, chief public relations officer for Hennepin County, pointed out that the county has more than 9,100 employees in a vast array of jobs. She suggested that students look at the county’s website, https://www.hennepin.us/, and determine one or two people they’d like to interview. Then she asked students to contact her at Carolyn.Marinan@hennepin.us. She’ll help arrange interviews. Among those 9,100 are bridge, restaurant and pool inspectors, bike and pedestrian coordinators, child protection workers, medical examiners, attorneys, sheriff deputies, and librarians.

Tom Hayes, vice president of public relations and marketing at Hennepin Healthcare, wrote: “We encourage students to explore our webpage – hennepinhealthcare.org – including our ‘Careers’ section, to learn more about the interesting and diverse career options in the health care field. Our website has a ‘Contact Us’ link that students can use to request to speak with a professional in the field and we will do our best to fulfill those requests.”

Sherburne County Human Relations Director Tammy Bigelow wrote: “We would be happy to make available our employees to talk to young people about the important and rewarding work that we do at Sherburne County and the job opportunities that await them.”

Finally, Doug Anderson, director of communications and media for the Minnesota State network of two-year colleges and four-year universities, responded: “Summer is a great time for prospective students to visit colleges or universities they may be considering. Campus tours and information sessions are available to give students opportunities to meet faculty and staff and get a feel for what it is like to be on campus. Events are also available that focus on specific academic or career programs.” An excellent one-stop resource is at http://www.minnstate.edu/visit.”

Teens typically spend lots of summer time with friends, family, hobbies and jobs. I think wise families will encourage them to spend a few hours learning more about possible jobs, careers and post-high-school education.

Joe Nathan directs the Center for School Change. Reactions welcome, joe@centerforschoolchange.org or @JoeNathan9249.