Students get a chance to build future work skills

Published 9:38 am Friday, April 25, 2014

By Amy Baskin

Community Education and communications director

Step Up Achieve Austin is a program that connects businesses with the next generation of workers. Step Up is a partnership between Austin Public Schools and the local business community. Its purpose is to provide job training and hands on experience for young people to build a stronger local workforce. Austin’s program is modeled after the Minneapolis program that started in 2002 and is a national model for youth workforce development and mentoring.

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High school students completing their junior year are eligible to apply for the program. The application process includes a six page application, eight hours of training and an in-person interview with senior managers in the partner company. Our first year of the program was last summer. We had 18 students apply with seven students chosen for placement.



Our first partner company was Hormel Foods Corp. Hormel Foods developed the job descriptions that were presented to the students. These paid positions were at both the company’s Corporate Office and the Austin (Minn.) Plant and included roles in the consumer insights, engineering, corporate records, human resources, info center, information technology, logistics, and research and development departments. Students prioritized their preferences and were placed into departments and positions based on their desired experience.

The students worked from June 17 through Aug. 9 and finished their service with student presentations to the business and education communities. The students overwhelmingly identified this opportunity as the best thing they had ever experienced. They reported growing beyond their boundaries, personal growth, and growth in confidence, knowledge and the ability to learn new things. Our partner company, Hormel Foods, was pleased with the students’ abilities and work ethics and will continue to partner with us.

This summer we are expanding our opportunities for students with added partners organizations and more positions for our students. We hope to see the Step Up Achieve Austin continue to expand to more local businesses, non-profits and organizations. This is a great opportunity for our students, our economy and our community.

For more information about this program or if your organization would like to host a student this summer contact Katie Baskin, Principal at Austin High School at or 507 460-1800.