At Genesys Works, our mission is to provide pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships.
Our proven model not only changes the future trajectory of students’ lives, but also has a ripple effect in their families, communities, companies, and society at large.
When the young professionals of Genesys Works New York City’s founding class sat at their desks in Manhattan’s shiny glass towers for the first time in September 2019, they were excited and nervous and eager to discover what their year-long internships would hold. The challenges in front of them – excelling in their first professional job, finding a place for themselves in corporate America, graduating high school and getting into college – were daunting in and of themselves. At that time, none of them could have imagined the scale and scope of the challenges that 2020 had in store.
Two-thirds of the way through their internship year, the COVID-19 pandemic struck, presenting a whole new set of challenges – more daunting and now dangerous, both for themselves and their families. And then with one month to go in their internships, the murder of George Floyd shocked and distressed our founding class of interns and the nation.
Steffi Rivera, a senior at Bronx High School for Law and Community Service, was connected to Genesys Works at school and jumped at the chance to sign up. Steffi gained valuable professional skills through the summer training program and the experience sparked her interest in the fields of technology and business. As she started her senior year, Steffi also started a new position at Corporate Partner Mizuho Securities, where she was placed as an intern under Tavannie Perez, VP of Accounts Payables.
Steffi attended morning classes before taking the subway to Manhattan to audit company expense reports, enter invoices, and provide support for team projects. The experience was very exciting for Steffi. She shares, “After school, I always looked forward to my internship because of the great work environment. I was always excited to learn something new!”
In the wake of COVID, Steffi’s senior year and internship transitioned to look very different than she imagined, but she did not skip a beat. She said, “Even though I was not able to experience prom, senior activities or a graduation ceremony, what mattered the most to me was graduating high school and completing my internship.” Her resilience and focus were noted at work as well. Tavannie shares, “Steffi’s ability to move forward without a break in concentration has been great. At a time when things are so uncertain, Steffi continues to move forward.”
In fact, Tavannie and her team were so impressed with Steffi’s work, they surprised her with a class ring in celebration of her high school accomplishments! They both share this as the highlight of their year.
Tavannie said of Steffi, "She has proven to be a mature and responsible team member. So much so, we would like to take her to the next level and have Steffi take the lead role in mentoring the next incoming intern." In true fashion, Steffi jumped at the opportunity, paying mentorship forward as she prepared to start her college journey at University at Buffalo.
Meanwhile, just as Steffi did the year prior, her future mentee was completing summer skills training. Esmeralda Alvarez, a high school senior from Bronx Leadership Academy II applied to Genesys Works as an opportunity to explore her future career path. She shared, "I knew it was an opportunity I couldn't pass. I was intrigued by the Genesys Works program and believe that they are the change society needs."
When Esmeralda learned that she would be interning at Mizuho Securities, Steffi, Tavannie and team welcomed her with a care package enclosed with treats, office supplies, and gifts! Tavannie wanted to ensure that Esmeralda felt welcomed and knew that the team was excited to support her growth.
While 2020 was a year of change, Tavannie, Esmeralda, and Steffi have persevered. They represent the amazing ripple effect Genesys Works has on individuals, starting with a strong corporate partnership and transcending through their employees, mentors, interns, and future interns. The trio have played a significant role in building and growing the legacy of Genesys Works NYC.