Genesys Works aims to give a hand to students in underserved communities, but the intense technical training and internship placement program also helps participating workplaces fill in-demand positions.
The program, said National Capital Area Director Mioshi Moses, targets students in underserved communities, but particularly those “with a fire in their belly” willing to put in the work to build futures for themselves. The program begins with eight weeks of technical and professional skills training students complete the summer of their junior year in high school.
“Meeting these young people renews my faith in our country’s future,” Moses said. “I’m so impressed by them. They’re taking their summer when they probably could be hanging out with friends and they’ve chosen to make an investment in their futures. We had a student who worked the night shift at a big-box store from 12 to 6 in the morning, went home, changed clothes, and came to Genesys Works for the training session at 8 the same morning —every day — totally engaged and committed to earning a professional internship.”
The summer program is necessary because it gears students up to succeed in the business technology/digital and technical jobs they’ll be entering their senior year —paid jobs. Each student gets a year-long paid internship their senior year at a participating corporation, where they can work up to 20 hours per week.
To date, 100 percent of students who participate in the program graduated from high school and 93 percent enrolled in college, officials said. The program’s goal is to move more students out of poverty and into professional careers, creating a more productive and diverse workforce in the process.
Moses has been at Genesys Works since the summer and calls it the hardest but most rewarding job of her varied career. She was in search of a job that would allow her to directly make a difference in others’ lives, and when she first heard of Genesys Works, she knew she’d found her niche.
The Mississippi native began her career as a tax attorney before moving into the professional services realm in management consulting strategy and process reengineering. Soon, Moses began to reevaluate her options.
“I realized I was looking for something different,” she said. “I wanted to get closer to impact.”
So Moses began searching for ways to apply her hard-earned business skills to the nonprofit sector. After a series of positions, she narrowed her focus even more. Moses wanted to make an impact in the opportunities available to young people. When someone sent her the job posting for Genesys Works, it seemed like the perfect fit.
“I’ve seen in my own family life where people who had an opportunity to do something at a young age were able to change their lives,” she said. “The ones who were able to change their lives early on were the ones who had an opportunity presented that they took advantage of early on.”
Not only does the Genesys Works program offer advance job training and the year-long internship; it also factors in support for college applications and readiness as well as general career guidance along the way. While students are actively interning, they’re engaged in ongoing conversations with a Genesys Works representative who stays in contact with the employer to learn of any potential issues and helps the student work
Genesys Works was founded 16 years ago and has served more than 6,000 students through its programs in Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington’s National Capital Region. The latter was launched three years ago with a strong partnership with Fairfax County Public Schools, Moses said.
“There is a goal all across the region for the program,” she said. “My goal is to expand into D.C.”
In 2019, she will also be working to double the number of students in the program from 37 to at least 60, eventually reaching 120 students by 2020. She will also be working to add to the region’s 20 or so corporate partners. Their focus is on employers in government contracting, law, federal government and education. Interns fill jobs at help desks and in data analysis, project management and others.
For example, students in the summer program learn about relational databases. Two interns learned the proprietary software for their project management and were doing the same kind of work an entry level adult would normally perform.
“On one end, we’re helping a student, but on the other end, these companies are getting a diverse talent pipeline with workers who bring a different perspective,” Moses said. “That was not the original intent. The original intent was just to focus on getting these interns jobs. But we’re seeing a great side effect, and that is that the companies themselves are impacted.”
At corporate partner CALIBRE, IT Service Desk Manager Del-Von Nelson said the two interns placed through the program have helped increase productivity.
“Both interns are able to handle weekly and daily reports, as well as accomplish numerous basic and advanced tasks provided to them in a timely and efficient manner,” Nelson said. “(They) actively look for tasks to complete for our service desk specialists allowing them to service more end users and complete projects within earlier periods assigned to them. They have both shown a strong work ethic eagerness to participate and learn that they have been granted more permissions to assist in highly technical aspects of the service desk here at CALIBRE attributed to success within the department. They never miss an opportunity to volunteer for assignments and projects even when they aren’t on the schedule. (They) have shown a strong desire to be successful and have shown to be a great asset to CALIBRE and the IT team.”