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Internship Allows Minneapolis High School Student to Learn About His Future in Minnesota’s Construction Trades

By: Emily Sweeney

Mohamud Ibrahim doesn’t like sitting.

He’d rather be outside playing soccer and scoring goals. Anything – anything – to stay active. To use his hands. To move his feet. So, to keep himself moving this summer, Ibrahim wanted to find hands-on work that would allow him to be outside.

Ibrahim joined the Minnesota Trades Academy to explore his future career opportunities. He spent the summer learning construction skills, becoming familiar with different trades, and making new friends. Photo Credit:Karin Ellefson

That’s why the Minneapolis Roosevelt High School 10th grader’s AVID (college preparation class) teacher, recommended that he apply to the Minnesota Trades Academy (MTA), a paid summer construction internship experience for selected Twin Cities-area high school students.

The Minnesota Trades Academy offers two tracks for students to learn about the construction trades through hands-on experience. Track I is a six-week introduction to construction career opportunities. Youth who participate in Track I can move onto Track II, a nine-week trade specialization course, the following summer. The completion of both tracks can set a student up to launch a career in the construction industry, beginning with a registered apprenticeship with a Minnesota building trades union for those who are 18 and older and have earned their high school diploma or GED.

“I wanted to explore a new path – to see if I liked construction,” said Ibrahim, describing what motivated him to apply for the Minnesota Trades Academy summer internship program. “And I’ve found out, through the Minnesota Trades Academy, that I do like it. On top of that, I’m making more friends.”

When he was a freshman in high school, Ibrahim couldn’t sign up for construction-related classes at Roosevelt. But after completing his paid internship with the Minnesota Trades Academy this summer, he now plans to take courses such as woodshop and metals during his sophomore and junior years.

“I never knew there were so many different careers in construction,” Ibrahim said. “I just want to keep learning more about construction and seeing more projects.”

Through the Minnesota Trades Academy, Ibrahim has had a number of experiences that have exposed him to various careers within construction. This summer, he’s learned how to pour concrete, build chairs, and he’s seen real-world construction workers at work while visiting construction sites and apprentice training labs.

“My AVID teacher tells me to keep exploring new things,” Ibrahim said. “When I try new things I can find what I am passionate about.”

While Ibrahim has not decided what he will do after high school, he has a general idea – he wants to get an associate degree and become a building trades apprentice, so he can get paid right away doing hands-on work, which he really enjoys. As to what specific construction career interests him, he’s not quite sure yet.

Understanding Ibrahim’s Future Opportunities

Ibrahim says his parents approve of a future for him in the construction building trades.

“My parents think that people who do construction are good people,” Ibrahim said. “You are doing something important for your community when you help build it.”

Ibrahim cleans up a Minneapolis construction site by shoveling concrete into a wheelbarrow. Ibrahim and his peers removed concrete and prepared the site to pour a new set of steps and sidewalks. Photo Credit:Karin Ellefson

Barb Pederson, a retired Minneapolis Roosevelt High School teacher and a second-year Minnesota Trades Academy site lead, said it’s important for students and their parents to understand all of their options after high school.

“When I first heard about the Minnesota Trades Academy [formerly called, Under Construction] about 10 to 15 years ago, it was like everyone was going to a four-year college or not at all,” Pederson said. “Some people still think that is the only way to succeed in life.”

Pederson said the construction trades provide young people with long-term, sustainable career options that come with good pay and benefits right away, without the financial stress of college debt. The Minnesota Trades Academy gives students, ages 16+, a taste of what a future career in construction might be like on a day-to-day basis.

“I’m not sure what I will be when I am older yet,” Ibrahim said. “I just know I don’t want to be sitting in an office every day.”

That answer is a big reason why Ibrahim recommends the Minnesota Trades Academy to his friends and family.

“My friends are also athletic and like being outside,” Ibrahim said. “They are working at Tree Trust this summer and they would like the Minnesota Trades Academy projects that we’re working on.”

Tree Trust is a Minneapolis-based program that exposes students to landscaping work. Besides his friends, Ibrahim said little brother would enjoy working at the Minnesota Trades Academy.

“He likes building, he likes being outside and he’s good at problem-solving,” Ibrahim said.

Interested in a career in construction?

Students who would like to learn more about careers in Minnesota’s construction industry should visit To learn more about the Minnesota Trades Academy and to apply for the program’s internship program for the summer of 2020, click here.

The Minnesota Trades Academy is supported through the generosity of the following organizations: the Construction Careers Foundation, Apprenticeship Coordinators Association of Minnesota (ACAM), City of Minneapolis/STEP UP Program, City of St. Paul Facilities Department, City of St. Paul/Right Track Program, City of St. Paul/HREEO, Kraus-Anderson Construction, M.A. Mortenson Co., McGough Construction Company, the Minnesota State Legislature, Minneapolis and St. Paul Building and Construction Trades, OPUS Foundation, PCL Construction, Ramsey County/U LEAD Program, Ryan Companies, Saint Paul Police Department, St. Paul Public Schools, and White Bear Lake Area Schools.