Getting Iowa Future Ready

“Pi515 has given me the opportunity to see a thriving environment and workplace. I'm able to meet passionate people, be part of a team, and work alongside others who also strive for the future they want.” 


“Pi515 has given me the opportunity to see a thriving environment and workplace. I'm able to meet passionate people, be part of a team, and work alongside others who also strive for the future they want.” 

For Mac Brandt, joining the Pi515 team meant giving back to her community, developing her workforce readiness skills, and sharing her passion and experience with younger students, particularly young women interested in STEM. “Before my first year at college, I didn't get the chance to learn in-depth about computer science. Once I was able to learn, I felt behind compared to those who knew they liked computer science before,” she stated. “Computer science has a lot of skills and tools that come with it. I hope to help give younger students more options for their future.” 

Mac serves as one of four college interns employed at Pi515 who work alongside high school students enrolled in the Tech Mentorship Program. John Deere ISG and Principal Financial Group are both hosting cohorts for the 2022-2023 program. Industry professionals from each company lead the program from start to finish. Participants are currently learning Python, the most in-demand programming language across the tech industry. At Principal, where Mac mentors students, she utilizes her experience and knowledge to aid students and help facilitate class. Observing students gain more confidence in their programming skills is Mac’s favorite part. “I love seeing them working on the programming exercises. They may get errors or not get the output they expect, but once they move forward and fix it they get so creative.” 

The Tech Mentorship Program benefits greatly from the inclusion of interns like Mac. Creating paid, work-based learning experiences becomes increasingly critical as we aim to bridge the gap between youth interested in STEM and the young adults joining the workforce. College interns bring expertise to the program and receive in return opportunities for growth and leadership. 

Navigating the transition between college and the workforce is increasingly difficult, Mac noted. “There can be a lot of assumptions about a newly graduated student due to less experience than a senior. However, what the young lack in experience they make up for in innovation.” It is important for employers to know that newly graduated employees bring energy, enthusiasm, and innovation to the workplace. The workforce is changing, and employers must adapt to its demands. Only 51% of Gen Zers plan on attending a 4-year university. The exact implications of this trend on the future of work is yet unknown, but we do have an inkling. 

Unless companies are willing to re-assess their priorities in hiring, the labor market will continue to suffer. Formal work experience and a collegiate education can no longer be prerequisites for entry level jobs. Young, talented future employees continue to observe a lack of opportunities for themselves in Des Moines, and in Iowa. Their response? Seeking opportunities outside the state. If employers refuse to respond to shifts in the labor market, Iowa will continue to lose talent at a concerning rate. 

For Mac, though, her internship has brought a new perspective. Her time working alongside the students and employees at Principal provided a new perspective on the possibilities for young employees in Des Moines. Whether she and other talent will stay in the state to further their career goals is yet to be determined. We are hopeful that employers will start innovating and implementing changes for the youth of Iowa to entice the future leaders of the world to stay and make Iowa their permanent home.

On November 29th we are partnering with Drake College of Business students in putting on a CEO Roundtable event. Stay tuned for more information!

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