Over 100 Minnesota students ‘suiting up’ for IT internships this fall

by Peter Elwell

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Genesys Works Twin CitiesOn August 18th, approximately 115 students from Minnesota will anxiously await ‘draft day’ — although they aren’t being picked by a pro sports team — rather something different.

These students are anticipating which local company they will be paired with for a one year paid IT internship.

Genesys Works provides students from economically disadvantaged high schools with professional internships and mentoring opportunities within the IT division of various corporations — including 3M, Accenture/Best Buy, Medtronic, Capella, and many others.

As an eight person nonprofit with roots in Houston, TX, Genesys Works Twin Cities has had a great deal of success since it’s humble beginnings here in 2008. For example, from 2010 into 2011, the organization increased the number of students it serves by 47%.  All participants complete an intensive two month training program that prepares them for the realities their internship and success further on into a professional career.   Of the 111 students that have completed the Twin Cities program to date, 100% have gone on to enroll in college with 95% still on track to graduate.

Genesys Works Twin Cities

One of these local success stories is Sue Thao from Johnson High School in St. Paul.   Thao has been highly praised for his time as a Genesys Young Professional at the State of Minnesota’s Office of Enterprise Technology and graduated in the top 10% of his class.

Other Genesys Works grads such as Eric Levine have been accepted to schools such as St. Cloud State University, while others are currently enrolled at well known institutions like Gustavus Adolphus College and University of Minnesota.  Many grads earn financial assistance, as in the case of Amanda Veng who will receive $38,000 in scholarships towards St. Cloud State.

On average, salary workers with a college degree earn 80% more than their counterparts with only a high school diploma, according to the U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics.  The hands-on professional experience may be the most valuable part of the Genesys Works experience.  Young professional Abdi Temo says that  “Being around IT professionals and working with them on different problems shows me how they rely on each others’ knowledge to solve them.”

In line with the type of support Genesys Works offers students, they are  joining up with Social Venture Partners Minnesota and hosting a ‘Suit Up Clothing Drive’  to match each individual with at least one business outfit for their interviews.  Donors can drop off their donations now through Friday, August 12th (8:00 am – 5:30 pm, Monday – Friday) at either Genesys Works or Pragmatek offices.

They ask that donations be clean, up-to-date and ‘interview appropriate’. Gift cards are also accepted and volunteers are needed for Suit Up Shopping Days to assist students as personal shoppers.

For more information on the Suit Up initiative, contact either Jennie Olson (jenniel.olson@gmail.com / 651.260.9008) or Hanni Wenker  (hwenker@svpmn.org / 612.616.3335).  To learn more about aligning your organization with Genesys Works, contact Executive Director Jeff Tollefson (jtollefson@genesysworks.org / 651-789-0088).

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