October 5th found the Sundance Family Foundation partnering with Minneapolis North Workforce Center and the Minnesota Center for Excellence in Manufacturing, to bring 24 charter school students on a tour of one of Minnesota’s leading manufacturers, MME Group in Vadnais Heights.
The students came from Minnesota Internship Center (MNIC) and 800 Broadway School, both charter schools in North Minneapolis.
MME Group provided an incredible tour of the possibilities for careers in manufacturing as well as the various ways young people can begin their manufacturing journeys.
Brian Bussmann, company president and founder welcomed the students into MME Group Meeting Room to meet with a panel made up of HR personnel, managers, and Mr. Bussmann. Brian offered part of his professional story, with the other members of the panel (Jared, Jerry, and Tonya) offering theirs as well. From this presentation, we heard that some people can go to school right out of high school, some can get experience from other careers, and others can start working in manufacturing as soon as they turn eighteen.
The panel opened up for a round of questions. The questions differed, but the response of the student audience was pretty much the same after each questions. Some would ask something like, “How much would I start at?” which would be followed by an answer that surprised and pleased the group. “Depends on the job. Most in at entry level start at $14 an hour or so.” These answers were always followed by a moment of shocked silence, and then a quiet rumbling between the groups of friends that made up the school groups. One young man after this questions called out, “Are you hiring?” A wave of awe went over the crowd as the HR director said, “Yes.”
Following the panel, our group was split up into three different groups. We all had the same tour path, but started at different points. The students were able to meet the people on the floor; Not just on the assemble line, but in the clean room and in the lab area. Students were able to talk with the tool makers and the people involved in higher precision work. Afterwards, it was clear many could see themselves in
MME Group was kind enough to offer their space, and as an exercise, they gave us job applications for the students to fill out. There is something to be said about getting students used to filling out real applications at a real job site. If they do it once they are likely to try it again. Filling out the apps might just lead to them actually turning them in. We will keep these groups in the fold regarding opportunities in industrial vocations. And, we will keep making connections with youth programs and these incredible companies.