MHTA, AchieveMpls partner with companies to host a series of Tech Experience Tours

August 1, 2017

MHTA — Last month, MHTA and AchieveMpls partnered with several Minnesota companies to host a series of Tech Experience Tours over the course of a week for their STEP-UP students.

MHTA partners with local companies and schools to provide these unique Tech Experience Tours for students interested in learning more about STEM careers and the high tech business world. Research has shown that the most effective encouragement for students to pursue a STEM career is the opportunity to meet and interact with a STEM professional.

AchieveMpls’ STEP-UP program connects Minneapolis youth ages 16-21 with paid internships at nearly 150 companies, public agencies, and non-profit organizations across 17 industries.

Minnesota IT Services

STEP-UP students started their week of tours at Minnesota IT Services. The State of Minnesota’s Chief Information Officer (CIO), Thomas A. Baden Jr., led STEP-UP students on a guided tour of MNIT and the Minnesota Department of Revenue (DOR). The students met with industry professionals to gain insight into the world of Information Technology, and they explored the different ways that IT positively impacts the lives of Minnesotans.

The STEP-UP students walked through the Security Operations Center (SOC) and met with the team of dedicated workers who protect the state from cyber-threats while securing the private data of 5.5 million Minnesotans. They also visited the DOR’s data center and scanning/imaging lab and discussed the logistics behind deploying and maintaining computer hardware and software provided to employees.

Students on their tour at Minnesota IT Services.

Students on their tour at Minnesota IT Services.

Throughout the tour, IT industry professionals, security experts, computer programmers, and software developers gave the STEP-UP students advice and insight about career opportunities in the IT field. The Minnesota IT employees engaged in discussion with them about the education requirements that they would need for a career in IT – specifically, the students learned about which classes to take or certifications to acquire. Minnesota IT employees also conveyed the information that they wish they had known as they began their careers.

The visit was organized by Commissioner Thomas A. Baden Jr., the Chief Information Officer for the State of Minnesota.

“The future of technology in Minnesota depends on engaging students from all backgrounds in STEM courses and encouraging them to consider a career with the State of Minnesota. I thank STEP-UP to Achieve and the Minnesota High Tech Association for their work to connect students with STEM learning opportunities,” said Commissioner Baden. Minnesota IT Services has four students interning with the agency this summer as part of the STEP-UP program.


The second stop of the week-long journey was a visit to Jamf in Minneapolis. Jamf helps businesses and schools manage and deploy Apple products.

Dean Hager, Jamf CEO, welcomed the students and shared the inspiring stories of his career and Jamf’s origins.

Students hear from Dean Hager, CEO of Jamf.

Students hear from Dean Hager, CEO of Jamf.

Students were then given a tour of the Jamf offices and participated in a panel discussion with Jamf employees. A number of Jamf employees participated in the tour and panel, including:

  • Daisy Hinding, Cultural Facilitator
  • Jeni Asaba, Copywriter & Content Creator
  • Kelly Conrad, Inside Systems Engineer
  • Luckie Vang, Test Engineer I
  • Pol Sorquist, Training & Development Coordinator
  • Scott Strand, Marketing Coordinator
  • Kelly Conrad, Inside Systems Engineer
  • Eric Swenson, Software Engineering Intern
  • Nashan Miller, Inside Account Executive
  • Grant Wuerker, Software Engineer I
  • Tim Willmore, Inside Systems Engineer
  • Karen Johnson, Director, Development & Delivery

Students at JamfCenturyLink

Next the students visited CenturyLink. After a quick welcome and introduction (along with safety glasses and pens administered by CenturyLink’s summer Achieve Minneapolis | Step Up intern, Boniat Ephrem) students toured the Century Link central office where equipment and transport facilities are working to provide a myriad of services from 911 lines for Minneapolis to Ethernet for top Fortune 500 companies.

This behind-the-scenes tour was followed by presentation about the internet and technology evolution; lines now are those feeding cell towers that provide service to cell phone users. The presentation also included an overview of technology CenturyLink provides at Target Field and for the Minnesota Vikings at U.S. Bank Stadium. Students also had a chance to ask a number of questions.

Rod Imbriani, new VP operations for Minnesota talks about the evolution of technology.

Rod Imbriani, new VP operations for Minnesota talks about the evolution of technology.

The tour closed with a discussion, led by Clemen and Ashley Halvorson, director of human resources focused on careers in technology, following your passion and taking full advantage of their internships.  CenturyLink welcomes this next generation of technologists.

“We enjoy being a resource to support students’ learning of technology,” said Molly Clemen, market development manager for Minnesota. “We appreciate our partners MHTA and Achieve Minneapolis Step Up focusing on opportunities for our youth.”

Best Buy

The STEP-UP students finished their week of tours with a visit to Best Buy headquarters. Students received a tour of three work areas: Infrastructure Engineering, Site Reliability Engineering, and Product Management. After that, students participated in a panel discussion and closed out the tour with remarks from Best Buy’s Chief Digital Officer, Bala Subramanian.

Students on their tour at Best Buy.

Students on their tour at Best Buy.

Topics included why individuals chose an IT, if they followed their original career plan or if life events guided them to where they are now? Were there things and thoughts that initially held them back from pursuing a career in technology? What skills and experience they recommend, biggest myths about the job and biggest challenges.

Best Buy employees that hosted the tour included:

  • Judy Earling, Associate Manager, Corporate Communications
  • Ellen Roth, Senior Specialist, Talent Acquisition
  • Sara Heitkamp, Manager, Web Operations
  • Mark Esser, Senior Engineer, Web Infrastructure
  • Nick Zeitler, Engineer I, Site Reliability Engineering
  • Dan Halsey, Director, External and User Generated
  • Ashmita Srivastava, Engineer I, Web Operations
  • Madisson Delaney, Associate Product Manager, Browse Product Team
  • Doug Hawley, Senior Web Engineer, Platform Engineering
  • Bala Subramanian, Chief Digital Officer

Students at Best Buy

Thank you to AchieveMpls, MN IT Services, Jamf, CenturyLink, and Best Buy for a great week of tours!

For more information on Tech Experience Tours, visit If you’re interested in hosting a future tour, please please use our contact form to send us a message.

If you’re a STEM educator looking to connect with a business, be sure to also visit our get STEM Minnesota website at


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