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.
I first became involved with Genesys Works Twin Cities as a member of its founding Board of Directors. Now, as of January 2021, I am thrilled to serve in my new position as Executive Director. I’ve spent my career working at the intersection of business and social impact and believe Genesys Works is one of the most innovative organizations around, helping driven youth break through barriers and reach their full potential while building a more diverse talent pool for local companies in the process.
Genesys Works continues to thrive, despite facing significant challenges during a global pandemic. Because of our generous donors, we had our best fundraising year to date, raising $1.7 million in grants and contributions, allowing us to provide crucial payment continuity to young professionals who were financially impacted by COVID-19. Due to the unwavering commitment of our partners, we were also able to pivot our model in significant ways. For the Class of 2021, we delivered virtual skills training for the first time and in August, placed more than 300 young professionals into internships; 90% of which were virtual.
In 2017, two young professionals – Henock Mwanasomwe and Veronica Venegas – began their professional journeys with Genesys Works, each landing a paid internship. A year later, they celebrated their high school graduation, and another young professional – Grace Vang – followed that same path.
Since their respective graduations, Henock, Veronica, and Grace have each relentlessly pursued opportunities to not only equip themselves for a full-time career but also positively impact the people around them, whether that be family or the broader community. In Summer 2021, they’re adding another experience to their resumes: Medtronic’s Summer Internship Program. As they now draw near to college graduation, this opportunity is especially significant.
It’s significant to Medtronic, too. Over 12 years, the company has hired 299 high school and college-level young professionals through Genesys Works – they’re building an extensive pipeline of talented individuals who desire to and can become full-time Medtronic employees. And now, they’re seeking them out for other opportunities, as well. Says Sarah Nieters, Medtronic’s Vice President of IT:
The Genesys Works young professionals bring fresh ideas and new perspectives. The students are motivated and excited to be here, and that brings new life and energy to the teams they are part of. They are not shy about challenging the status quo and how we get work done. The creative ideas they bring forward are beneficial to our productivity and efficiency.
Henock is a proud first-generation college student at the University of Minnesota – Carlson School of Management studying Management Information Systems (MIS). Through Genesys Works, his career pathway has intersected with many companies: first, Target; now, the Minneapolis Institute of Art; next, Medtronic.
Genesys Works served as his launchpad, and he’s fueling his progress. Henock is a member of our Talent Development Pipeline, and he’s also a member of the National Association of Black Accountants. Even beyond these affiliations, his accomplishments are extraordinary. During his first year at college, he attended the Twitter Early Bird Camp where he won second place in a coding contest and met Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey. Since then, he’s attended everything from investment banking conferences in New York to consulting conferences in Chicago, where he developed his interest in cybersecurity.
Yet amidst these experiences, he recognizes the value it brings to his family – specifically among his sisters – and the local community. “Genesys Works has taught me how to think more as a leader, which has translated into multiple areas of my life. I have been a leader more in my household, at school, and in my community...”
Veronica kicked off her Genesys Works experience with Medtronic in high school, and she’s eager to return. “After my year-long internship, I made it a goal of mine to one day return to Medtronic because I was so fascinated by the Medtronic mission of alleviating pain, restoring health, and extending life as well as the overall company environment.”
She, too, is a proud first-generation college student and is also a DACA recipient. Family is an integral part of her life, so her professional advancement is not just for her; it’s a tribute of appreciation to her parents, and it’s setting the stage for success for younger family members and future generations.
As she completes her degree in Management Information Systems (MIS) at Augsburg University, Veronica has an ambitious vision for her life: she wants to uplift the potential of other local DACA recipients and help others in her hometown of Oaxaca, Mexico launch their careers. She accomplished her goal to return to Medtronic, so it’s only a matter of time until she adds this international vision to her list of achievements.
Since childhood, Grace has been destined for a career in technology since childhood. When she was young, she shot videos with her siblings and developed movies on her computer. Upon applying for Genesys Works, she hoped to incorporate her interest in business: “I felt that Genesys Works would be a great stepping stone to obtain the skills I needed and expand my knowledge in technology and business...”
Grace has been focused on gaining as much experience as possible and is currently attending Metropolitan State University, where she’s earning a degree in MIS. Moreover, she’s already putting her knowledge into action at Medtronic. Before their Summer Internship Program, she’s completing another internship with the company on their Business and Customer Platforms team – from the comfort of her own home.
She believes in the value that young professionals bring to the company, citing their optimism and eagerness to make a difference, their ambition, and their willingness to confront challenges. It’s also a glimpse into the very qualities she contributes to Medtronic.
In 2008, Genesys Works found its home in the Twin Cities, and Ecolab was one of the first partners to invest in our local, future workforce. Over the course of 13 years, the company has employed 84 young professionals, amounting to more than $700,000 in wages paid directly to Twin Cities youth. Between Ecolab and its foundation, additional contributions totaling more than $256,000 have also been invested into furthering the mission of our organization. Most recently, Anil Arcalgud, Ecolab’s EVP and CIO, joined the Board of Directors in 2020 to provide strategic input as we seek to grow our local footprint. We are grateful for the ongoing partnership of Ecolab and the Ecolab Foundation, and we look forward to continue building a legacy of equitable change in the