Sep 26, 2018

Executive Director, Genesys Works National Capital Region

What kind of high school student does Genesys Works attract?

We serve high school students from underserved populations. The type of student interested in Genesys Works has a certain set of qualities: they are driven, hard-working, and are looking to accomplish goals that generations before them have not yet achieved--like graduating from high school, getting a college degree, and achieving a professional career.

While many of our students may have had a bleak outlook for their future before joining Genesys Works, they now envision an opportunity to change the trajectory of their lives. Students attend professional and technical skills training the summer between their junior and senior year. This is unpaid time, with no guarantee of a job at the end of the summer training– talk about dedication! When most youth are hanging out with their friends during the summer, our students are committed to, and invested in, building a brighter future for themselves.

As students graduate from skills training, they are matched with local companies and earn a year-long, paid internship. For the next year these young professionals go to school in the morning and work in their corporate internships in the afternoon.

Where do they intern?

We identify corporate partners that have a need for diverse, local talent. IT and coding jobs are plentiful--that’s where the world is moving. But because our young professionals are also trained in business technology, some of our students have held positions in legal departments and on marketing teams. Thanks to connections made by our supporters like the Lever Fund, our young professionals are interning at the Smithsonian and Trusted Health Plans, Inc., among other companies. This is our second year of programming, and we doubled our number of interns to 40.

You just got to Genesys Works a few months ago. What was your first day like?

I walked into the training site and was greeted by a bunch of smiling young people. For the rest of the summer, I had to walk by them to get to my office. I could still hear their excitement and exuberance, even in my office. I like that constant reminder of who we serve, and the importance of our program. They are why I’m here. They are what keeps me motivated. If you don’t mind, I’d like to share just one small success story with you.  During my first week at Genesys Works, I was fortunate to participate in our Annual Mock Interview session that was led by Capital One employees.  I saw one young lady sitting alone, off to the side smartly dressed in a suit, but clearly very nervous.  She shared that it was her very first interview and that she was trying hard to remember everything she learned during her Genesys Works training.  We had a short conversation and I encouraged her to relax and breathe.  Later in the day, I saw her smiling and laughing with her peers.  I asked her about her interview and she said she nailed it; her confidence was so palpable.  It reminded me about the value of the work we do:  providing a young person with exposure and experience at a critical time in their life and helping them to gain the confidence and skills to succeed.  I can’t wait to see where she is ten years from now.

How did your background prepare you to lead Genesys Works in the National Capital Region?

I have always understood the value having the right job opportunity at the right time.  In high school, I worked in a department store. I learned how to provide good customer service, how to pay attention to details, and the importance of commitment and showing up every day when I was scheduled to work. Nothing is more important than opening the door to opportunity to our young people. That’s what I love about my job – I’m helping open the doors of opportunity for youth for whom doors are often closed.

The Breaking Through gala is October 16. What can we expect?

It’s an event to mark the “breaking through” of our young professionals as they enter the corporate world and continue on their journey towards professional success. It’s a rousing, emotional celebration of how glorious our young professional  are. They break through barriers and seize the opportunity to create a better future – they are the citizens of tomorrow and our future workforce!