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McKinstry Employees Mentor STEM Students Across Washington

Sometimes, the greatest gift you can give a student is time.

McKinstry employees in Seattle and Spokane gave their fair share of time this school year through the Skills that Shine mentoring program, a program of the Washington State Opportunity Scholarship (WSOS). WSOS is a state-established scholarship program that offers scholarships to low- and middle-income students entering Washington universities who plan to study science, technology, engineering or math (STEM) or healthcare.

Many of these students are female, people of color and first-generation college students who lack the social capital to help them bridge the gap between school and the working world. Last year, WSOS launched the Skills That Shine mentorship program to pair students with mentors who could help them with basic employment skills such as resume writing, networking and interviewing.

STEM and human resources professionals at companies across Washington used guided content built by WSOS and the Boston Consulting Group as conversation-starters with their mentees throughout the school year.

“I loved being able to help young women who reminded me of myself find their passion and be successful in engineering,” said Emily Wong, a McKinstry design project engineer who took on two mentees. “One of my mentees sent me a thank you letter where she thanked me for being a wonderful example of what she doesn’t see a lot of in school: a female mechanical engineer.”

All told, 17 McKinstry employees in both Seattle and Spokane volunteered 230 total hours throughout the 2016-17 school year. Their hours over the school year qualified for a $3,000 Pillar Program grant that will be distributed to students in the coming school year. The Pillar Program is McKinstry’s dollars-for-doers grant program that connects employee volunteerism to our philanthropic giving. All private funds donated to WSOS are matched by the state, doubling the impact of the volunteer’s time.

McKinstry also set up additional events to offer a well-rounded experience to mentees.

Kelly Kirkland, a McKinstry employee development consultant, organized a happy hour for mentors and mentees in January. A few weeks later, a small group of WSOS Scholars attended an “Industry Exploration Event” at McKinstry to learn about the company, meet business unit leaders and get a sneak peek at upcoming internship openings.

“McKinstry has been an outstanding partner in this work,” said Theresa Britschgi, program director at WSOS. “We are grateful for your contribution to our Scholars’ lives and futures.”

In the end, it’s all about the results. Follow-up surveys with mentees showed that nearly all those who completed the entire program reported an increase in their confidence and skills. Many also received internship offers, including one McKinstry mentee, Joey Woletz, who will be starting as an intern at McKinstry this summer.

Krissy Dreher, a McKinstry sales engineer, had the good timing to meet with her intern a week before she interviewed for a dream job.

“It was so great to help my mentee prepare for her career fair and interview and then in the end for her to get the internship she was hoping to get,” Dreher explained. “She was able to see how her hard work paid off.”

McKinstry staff plan to participate in the Skills That Shine mentorship program next year.

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