The Minnesota Trades Academy sent their summer interns to Veit, one of the country’s leading specialty contracting companies, to get hands-on experience operating heavy-duty equipment.
Rogers, Minnesota – Over the course of the summer, groups of Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA) interns visit local construction unions and companies to get hands-on experience in the trades. This summer, one such excursion took place at Veit, a specialty contracting and debris management company.
The Minnesota Trades Academy is a program funded and conducted by the Construction Careers Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to increase the diversity of entrants into the construction trades and foster long-term construction careers. MTA is a summer internship program that supports this mission by offering paid summer construction internship experiences for high school youth. The goal of the program is to help youth prepare for adulthood through skill development, personal development, and knowledge on how to access good jobs with good benefits in the construction industry.
Veit is one of the country’s leading specialty contractors with more than 95 years of experience in the construction industry. Their specialty contracting services include demolition, excavation, earthwork, foundations, industrial cleaning, pipe rehabilitation, and marine construction. Veit partners with more than 60 unions across the country, widening its net to provide jobs to construction professionals across the United States.
“The work that we do here at Veit is very niche and unique. When students think about construction and the possibilities of construction careers, specialty contracting is kind of a hidden gem in the construction industry that we hope they will consider,” said Bri Ana Vogel, Talent Acquisition Manager at Veit. “The goal of our day with the MTA interns was to provide a hands-on experience for them to operate heavy equipment, not just in a simulation or a classroom setting.”
Connecting Youth with Industry Experts
All 41 of MTA’s 2023 summer interns arrived at Veit’s facility in Rogers, Minnesota on a hot summer day, ready for the day ahead. Vogel and her team met the interns at the entrance of Veit’s facility, splitting them up into two groups. Inside, interns were given a tour of the Veit facility before meeting with a panel of professionals. Outside, a machine operating exercise was set up for interns to try their hand at operating heavy-duty equipment under the supervision of experienced professionals.
The company’s facility is clad in all things Veit“green”. Interns walked up a green staircase and through a museum of restored, historical artifacts collected by owner Vaughn Veit, then made their way to a meeting room for a panel discussion.
The panel began with an introduction of Veit as a company, further explaining who they are and what specialty contracting is. The interns gained insight on what kinds of projects Veit has completed in the past, including laying the foundation for the Minnesota Zoo Treetop Trail. By highlighting the specific jobs present on a construction site — such as laborers, operators, and pile drivers — interns were able to imagine what it might be like for them to have that job and consider if any given trade would make a good fit for their personalities, skills, and life goals.
The interns were then introduced to the professionals on the panel, including truck driver Ginger Lange, Business Agent for IUOE Local 49 Nate Sogge, Business Agent for North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters (NCSRCC) Noah Pratt, operator Michael Linneman, and piledriver Superintendent Chris Tjepkes. Each professional spoke about their personal experiences in the trades — how they got started, what they love about their career, and what responsibilities their specialties entail.
“The industry is changing. There are a lot of opportunities out there for me and other women in the trades,” said Lange, who is a strong advocate for educating young women about opportunities available for them in the construction trades.
“Contractors are willing to work with people who want to learn,” said Sogge, stressing the importance of hard work and dependability when seeking out jobs with contractors and unions.
Interns were eager to learn more, asking questions about the various routes an apprentice may take. The interns listened intently as each professional shared their career story, as well as information about their healthcare and retirement benefits, and the satisfaction they get from their work.
Tire Stacking and Digging With Veit
For many of the interns, the real thrill of the day was getting to operate one of Veit’s heavy-duty machines. This sort of opportunity offers youth the rare chance to gain real hands-on exposure to handling construction equipment.
MTA interns were ushered into Veit’s outdoor yard, busy with loading trucks, spare parts, and various operating machines. The experience started with a Job Hazard Analysis (JHA) safety discussion led by a Veit professional, followed by stretching, which is something each of Veit’s crews take part in daily. There, a station was marked off with two different exercises, both of which allowed interns to learn key machine operating skills. One station involved an excavator and four rubber tires. In an arcade claw-machine-style experience, the interns competed to see who was the best at stacking the four tires on top of one another. The other exercise involved a 301.5 excavator sitting on top of a pile of dirt. The interns got to practice maneuvering the machine to dig and fill holes.
Beside each machine, a Veit professional was there to guide the interns through the exercises. One by one, an intern would enter the machine and get a quick run-down on the equipment’s controls and operating system. From there, it was up to the interns to move that machine!
Veit set aside one hour to make sure every intern got a chance to try out both machines. As one intern had a tire clasped inside the machine’s claw, others watched, cheering them on as they attempted to stack it on top of a tower of tires. Another intern couldn’t get enough of the 301.5 excavator machine, hopping in three different times to get the controls right and successfully move a pile of dirt from one place to another. He later told Veit that this is the job he wanted someday.
“Seeing those smiles on the intern’s faces as they were operating the machines – it’s the why behind what we’re doing today: to provide that hands-on, meaningful experiences to help impact and expand their future career choices,” said Vogel.
For youth attempting to decide which direction they want to take after high school — exposure is key. Educators seeking guidance in informing their students about a career in construction, or hoping to pass along the opportunity to join the Minnesota Trades Academy, can visit the Educator Resources page on ConstructionCareers.org.
CONSTRUCTION CAREERS FOUNDATION: CHOOSE YOUR PATH
For more resources regarding a career in construction, visit www.ConstructionCareers.org.
For more stories similar to this one, view the Construction Careers Foundation Success Stories page.
To explore careers at Veit, visit https://veitusa.com/careers/.