Aajaze Davis, 19, a University of Sioux Falls accounting student from North Minneapolis, is proof that internships matter. Davis is a several-year summer employee of U.S. Bank.

He was master of ceremonies recently at the 13th annual Minneapolis Step-Up ceremony at the Guthrie Theater that honored nearly 1,700 youth ages 14 to 21 who worked at 280 Twin Cities businesses, nonprofits and government  this summer. That's 23,000 internships since 2004.

"This [internship experience] transformed me greatly by exposing me to business people and the business world and I now have a network of people and a comfort level on a professional level, and I feel I can do anything I set mind to in business,” Davis said last week. "I told the kids at the event to be yourself, make connections, do not think people think less of you because your inexperience. Some of these people will help you in your career."

 USB CEO Richard Davis participated in the event with former Mayor R.T. Rybak. They are long-time co-chairs of Step-Up, which disproportionately hires immigrant and minority students.

Mayor Betsy Hodges and dozens of employers also attended, including honorees U.S. Bank, Cookie Cart, Commonbond Communities, Briggs and Morgan, Children’s Hospitals and Clinics and Hope Community.

“We are proud of this partnership and honored to be named employer of the year,” said Jennie Carlson, Executive Vice President of Human Resources for U.S. Bancorp, which has hired dozens of Step-Up interns since the program’s inception in 2004. “Through Step-UP, we give students the support and experiences they need to create viable paths to their future. These students are our future workforce.”

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