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    January 23, 2024

    Mentorship Magic: Making Meaningful Connections

    At Power Design, we’re bringing our community together, while empowering the future generation through mentorship — a winning combination. We're introducing the future generation to a career in the trades and showing them how to succeed in the industry in more ways than one with the help of our #PDIFamily. 


    Through our partnership with ACE (Architecture, Construction, Engineering) Mentor Program of Tampa Bay, leaders at Power Design dedicate their time after work to spend with high school-aged students to help develop leadership, organization and people skills, while also showing them a “real day in the life of” through just being yourself. These working sessions held at our headquarters in St. Petersburg include Power Design subject matter experts, guest speakers, hands-on learning activities, and plenty of time for discussion and bonding from mentor to mentee.  


     Fun fact? We have the highest attendance with nearly 20 students attending the weekly sessions. With a mission to show students that career opportunities in the industry are endless, Learning & Development Supervisor Katie Leonard shares her passion for teaching and empowering the future generation of the workforce with our ACE students. Did we mention that she not only dedicates her time as an ACE mentor, but she also hosts our annual Power Youth Summer Camp, and is an integral part of our Power Design Apprenticeship Program?


    We sat down with Katie to get the inside scoop on what the ACE Mentor Program means to her, and how she hopes to leave her mark with the students, see for yourself.   

    How did you get involved with ACE?  

    Michelle Beckert, our Senior Learning & Development Manager got me involved with ACE this year to serve on the Associate Board as a Lead Mentor for the St. Pete location, which is hosted at Power Design. In this role, I lead all the sessions that are held at Power Design on Tuesday evenings with the kids. For the first half of the school year, we bring in a different speaker each week from a variety of different construction and engineering companies to give them a sense of these different fields. In the second half of the program, the kids split into small groups to work on a construction design project. They will present this project to a panel of judges with an opportunity to win and move on to the national competition. This opportunity has really allowed me to connect with local youth interested in a career in construction. It has been so fun to hear about their future goals and to allow them to see what career they might be interested in in the future. 

    How do you hope to impact the future generation through mentorship?  

    I really hope to open students’ eyes to the variety of career opportunities in the construction industry. I remember being in their shoes and not really knowing what I was going to be when I grew up. It was always nice to hear from adults in different career fields and think “I might be able to do that one day.” I hope the ACE program does that for kids by exposing them to a variety of options. (Selfishly, I also hope they choose a trade and join the Power Design apprentice program)! 

    What is your favorite part of being a mentor to ACE Mentor Program students?

    My favorite part of being a mentor is getting to talk and interact with the students. I love hearing the questions they ask our guest speakers and when they light up and get excited about something. We did several different activities throughout the year to help them learn some basic concepts and the kids got into them. We had a lot of fun building the strongest bridges, seeing whose handmade catapult could shoot the furthest, and estimating the cost to build a gingerbread house. I could tell the kids were having fun and I think it got them excited about the career. 

    Share your favorite mentor/mentee story:  

    So many great memories… a couple that stand out to me. First, I have several kids in my group who attend Tech High School in Seminole in their electrical program. I know they are interested in becoming electricians in the future, so it’s super exciting that they are attending ACE at Power Design. One night, the boys came up to me at the end of the session and said “Can you tell us some more info about the Power Design Apprentice program?” I was like “YES! You’re talking to the right person!” I grabbed some apprentice brochures from my car and gave them an overview — their eyes LIT up with excitement. It really made me realize the impact we are making on the future. 

    Last story… One of our topics before Christmas was estimating. For an activity, I decided to have the kids estimate the cost of a gingerbread house. I gave them the specs and asked them to come up with a cost estimate. Then they had to present their cost estimate to the “client” (one of our other mentors). The kids got SO into it, and it really showcased their creativity and entrepreneurial spirit. Some of them were trying to be super realistic with their number and looking up costs online. Others were getting creative about how to cut costs and gave a lowball estimate. We made direct connections to what we see in construction. It ended up being a great lesson.

    How does Power Design impact the ACE Tampa Bay Mentor Program? 
    Power Design is a financial sponsor of the ACE Mentor Program every year. Kids in the program can apply for scholarships each year they are in the program, and the money that Power Design donates helps to fund these scholarships. Additionally, since we host a location for the program, we also end up having several volunteers from Power Design as speakers throughout the year. I think Power Design has a large impact on the ACE Tampa Bay program, and this has also opened doors for us to develop partnerships with ACE affiliates in other markets that we work in. For example, we are looking forward to Brian Burns and Garrett Kyle representing Power Design at the Houston ACE Trades Day on February 10th.  ACE is a perfect partnership for us as we continue our trade advocacy efforts across the nation. 

    Through mentorship opportunities like ACE, PowerU Apprenticeship, and PowerYouth, we’ll continue to leave our mark by shaping the future generation of the workforce, one student at a time. Interested in shaping the future? You too could leave your impact on students in your local communities, apply here. 

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