400 Businesspeople Help Mpls. Teens Prep For Job Interviews

400 Businesspeople Help Mpls. Teens Prep For Job Interviews

Officials from a variety of local companies are volunteering their time to offer mock interviews to more than 1,800 local students.

More than 400 businesspeople representing Twin Cities companies large and small are heading to the Minneapolis Convention Center this week to conduct mock interviews with teens and young adults.

Started in 2004 by U.S. Bancorp CEO Richard Davis and former Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, the STEP-UP jobs program has created more than 18,000 workplace experiences for Minneapolis youth. The program, which has also partnered with AchieveMpls and Minneapolis Workforce Centers, recruits and trains young adults, ages 14 to 21, for placement in summer internships with a variety of businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies.

The program's annual mock job interviews give 1,800 teenagers a chance to practice their professional presentation in a real-life setting, one-on-one with a representative of a local business, many of which are themselves looking to fill internships. This year's mock interviews are being held this week through Thursday.

Businesses participating in the summer intern program that are sending representatives to this week's mock interviews include Target, Accenture, Wells Fargo, Medtronic, HealthPartners, and the Children’s Museum of Minnesota, among others. Some other businesses will have volunteers at the mock interviews to help train the students, although they themselves aren't offering internships through the program.

“By participating in our STEP-UP mock job interviews, these business volunteers are investing in our region’s collective future,” Davis said in a statement. Each interviewee will receive personalized coaching and feedback from the interviewers.

The program estimates that between 1,600 and 1,700 young Minneapolitans will be placed in internships this summer, Tammy Dickinson, STEP-UP program manager told Twin Cities Business.

The STEP-UP internships require a minimum of 20 hours a week, and some are full-time. Positions call for duties such as clerical work, research, or event support. The program also offers enrichment opportunities like industry-specific events and personal finance training. More than 90 percent of the interns are youth of color, with more than a third coming from recent immigrant families, according to STEP-UP.

In St. Paul, where the youth unemployment rate is twice the national average, another program focused on youth employment will also occur this week. The Right Track Youth Job Expo will take place Thursday for 11th and 12th graders, the Pioneer Press reported. Right Track offers professional internships in office settings, and the City of St. Paul is still looking for additional businesses to join participants like Ecolab to take on interns this summer. Grants are reportedly available for smaller businesses to offset employment costs.