On Monday, March 18th, we held our first corporate mixer event in our new workspace off Second Street. Employees from our five cornerstone corporate partners—Cello & Maudru, Clark Construction, NOVO Construction, Overaa Construction, and Turner Construction—traveled to Girls Garage to meet with our high school builders and recent alumni. The event was orchestrated by Director of Development Kristy Higares, who did all the behind-the-scenes work to make it happen.

Corporate mixer event

Although the mixer itself only took a few months to plan and coordinate, the notion itself has been years in the making. For the past four years, Kristy has fielded dozens of requests from corporations asking to work with our students in some capacity or another, through volunteering, mentoring, or job site tours. We’ve historically had low bandwidth to fulfill such requests—our schedules are already packed with programming and project preparation, and we protect time with our students for building and bonding between the youth and staff.

As Girls Garage has expanded, though, so has our alumni network. We celebrated our first official graduating class in 2020, and since then, we’ve watched wave after wave of talented young people go off to university and other adventures. We keep in touch with many of them, hiring them as interns in the summer or during school breaks, but Kristy began to notice a very real dilemma: how could we keep building career pathways in construction and the trades for our students once they aged out of Girls Garage?

Students in discussion with corporate construction companies

We knew we wanted to provide ongoing support to our alumni, especially those who were interested in pursuing a career in construction and the trades. After countless hours of discussion, our leadership team decided to partner with these five construction companies who’d proven themselves to be values-aligned with Girls Garage and who were putting significant resources towards increasing career opportunities for women and gender-expansive people at their organizations.

The event itself was designed to expose our students and alumni to career pathway possibilities at these specific companies. It was also a chance for our students to ask the employees more about how they entered the construction industry, and how they overcame barriers in the workplace. We split the students and adults into five groups to offer the opportunity to have more personal, intimate conversations. The Girls Garage students and alumni asked the employees a variety of career and trades questions, and the adults answered these questions frankly, admitting their missteps and generously sharing how they overcame obstacles at all stages of their careers. Each group also got the chance to have a little competitive fun while playing a game of giant Jenga!

Jenga at the Girls Garage corporate mixer

The night ended with Kristy Higares bringing the group back together with a final moment of gratitude. She offered to connect interested students with individuals from our cornerstone companies to continue the discussion about professional development, including internship opportunities during the summer and upcoming college years. We’re happy to report that at least 1 student has been offered an internship from Turner Construction because of this event!