Minnesota Trades Alumni Regroup for Networking Practice

Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA) alumni have the construction knowledge and skills to land a career in the trades, now it’s just up to the interview.

“Interviewing is sometimes the most intimidating part,” said Construction Careers Foundation Trades Navigator Charie Gill, who works with Minnesota Trades Academy interns to prepare for a career in construction. “It’s hard to let your guard down around someone you don’t know, especially when you’re nervous and trying to make a good impression.”

While the Minnesota Trades Academy is an 8-week paid summer construction internship devoted to introducing Minnesota high school students to careers in the construction trades, Gill and Minnesota Trades Academy Program Director Lindsay Tallman are continuing to build the summer network this school year through a series of MTA alumni events.

This casual extension of the program gives MTA interns the opportunity to stay connected with their peers from school, summer coworkers, and peers with common interests.

The Construction Careers Foundation, a Twin Cities nonprofit, funded the MTA alumni evening of dinner, networking, and games at the Frogtown Community Center in St. Paul.

“This event was important for our alumni because we created an environment for our young people to see other construction professionals and trades educators as just human – and open up to each other,” Gill said.

“It’s one thing to tell interns to be themselves when it comes time for an interview,” Tallman said. “They know the trades work, so we wanted to build confidence for the interview process.”

Sixteen MTA alumni attended the event. Interns ranged in age from 16 to 21 and came from White Bear Lake, Brooklyn Center, Minneapolis, and St. Paul.

“Watching alumni excited to come to another event was exciting for us; I can tell we’re building a community,” Tallman said.

To reintroduce interns to each other and to construction professionals and mentors, Gill organized a series of Minute-To-Win-It games.

“These games get youth out of their heads and into their bodies, so everyone is present, laughing and working as a team,” Gill said.

Consider the Ice Broken

“The second half of the night was our ‘Consensus workshop,’ where we asked the alumni what support they need to reach their desired career in construction,” Gill said. “It was a more serious discussion, but the alumni were ready to share.”

Answers ranged from addressing transportation barriers such as buying a vehicle to the process of following up after an interview and building a professional network.

“Creating a safe space for young people to share their concerns and obstacles gives us a new perspective on what we can bring to the table as their community of mentors and supporters,” Gill said. “We’ll be finding more, new ways to support them on their journeys.”

Gill and Tallman plan to continue hosting events for Minnesota Trades Academy Alumni.

“We can introduce MTA alumni to a network of professionals keeping in mind that many will be getting hired this spring, soon they will be trades professionals themselves and they’ve already started building a network in the trades,” Tallman said.

Questions about the Minnesota Trades Academy?

Connect with Lindsay Tallman at lindsay@constructioncareers.org.

To read stories about Minnesota Trades Academy intern experiences, visit the Success Stories page on ConstructionCareers.org.

To explore more than 30+ careers in the construction industry, visit CCF’s Careers page.