Pizza with a Side of Mentorship

What did you want to be when you were younger? An astronaut? Doctor? Perhaps an auto mechanic or archeologist in the mold of Indiana Jones. 

Determining a career path can be challenging for nearly everyone, but as technology continues to reshape the workforce, envisioning a career path is increasingly abstract for today’s teens. At Neighborhood House, many of our teens would be the first in their families to pursue higher education, and in addition to the difficulties of overcoming limited resources and lower expectations, many must now prepare for job opportunities that haven’t even been imagined!

To help teens think critically about the skills and educational opportunities they should pursue to prepare for a meaningful careers, every quarter, Neighborhood House’s College Access program co-hosts a Pizza with Professionals event. On a recent fall evening, a diverse cohort of professionals from throughout the Twin Cities gathered at the Wellstone Center to break bread and engage community youth in an open dialogue aimed at helping the next generation of innovators and leaders envision their dream jobs. 


Tanner Thompson, a web and digital media manager at Pentair, introduced himself to a packed room of students by highlighting the varied range of roles he has performed in his ten years since college: “I’ve worked in sales, marketing, been a personal banker, and ultimately discovered a passion for IT and all things computers.” He further emphasized that while specific skills are valuable, the right attitude is essential to any position and that tomorrow’s employees need to be willing to “raise your hands and say, I may not know much about this, but I’m willing to try.” 

Each student had the opportunity to spend 10 minutes with three professionals, and many stayed late to continue their conversations! The professionals didn’t represent all career possibilities, but they did give the youth a taste of what is possible. Many expressed how they had set (and continue to set) goals, and demonstrated the transferrable soft skills that will make people successful anywhere. If you are interested in learning more about Pizza with Professionals or the College Access program, please contact TJ Yocum at email.

Anders R-MBy Anders Ringdahl-Mayland