Last week, a group of teens in Minneapolis had the opportunity to visit with Minnesota Vikings players and staff at a local Best Buy Teen Tech Center. Not to talk about the latest game, but to hear how technology is used on and off the field.
The event, hosted at the Best Buy Teen Tech Center at Summit Academy OIC kicked off with a panel discussion featuring Vikings vice president of information technology Cheryl Nygaard, director of business analytics Kendall Peters and football analyst Chris French. Each panelist explained how they use technology daily and what got them started in their careers.
Nimet Abubaker, a regular Teen Tech Center attendee, said learning about data analysis of player stats was interesting and something she didn’t even know was a job.
“Any career is possible — you just have to make a plan and you can set out to accomplish it,” she said.
Support for teens’ passions and interests
After the career panel, wide receiver K.J. Osborn and safety Camryn Bynum joined in on the fun to talk with the teens about their career aspirations and try out some of the Teen Tech Center’s gear.
The players and teens experimented with different tech equipment and spent time in the music recording studio inside the Teen Tech Center. Camryn even tried creating his own track.
“This place is so cool,” he said. “I would’ve loved to have seen my favorite players when I was a kid, and I hope I can be there for kids like this and hear about their interests.”
That’s the priority for Teen Tech Center coordinator, Nich Thomas: that youth feel supported and the center is a safe space. Second, he hopes events like this inspire teens to go after careers that match their passions.
“It’s important that we show people who look like them in successful positions and the steps they can take to get there,” Nich said. “Many teens may see sports as an outlet, but most aren’t going to be in that top one percent to play sports professionally. So, if they can hear about all the different career paths if they’re into tech or sports and the opportunities they can pursue, that’s great.”
Cheryl, the Vikings’ vice president of information technology, said she would have loved a space like a Teen Tech Center when she was younger as an outlet to ask questions and learn.
“There’s not one way to work in IT,” she said. “A place like this opens up teens’ eyes and gives them the opportunity to explore what’s possible for their futures.”
Click here to learn more about the Best Buy Teen Tech Center program.