> Genesys Works

Is, quite literally, changing the face of the business and i.t. workforce

The Twin Cities is a hub of corporate headquarters for some of the most reputable companies in the country and the world: Target, Cargill, Best Buy, Medtronic, Optum, and the list goes on. And, reflective of other cities around the country, the technology sector is growing tremendously. Within this landscape, there are two scenarios at play: while STEM fields offer significant career opportunities, the current workforce lacks both gender and racial diversity.

We’ve made it our mission to change this—and more. As a nonprofit social enterprise, Genesys Works serves students from underserved communities— students brimming with motivation and potential—by providing them with access to life-changing professional work opportunities at one of more than 55 companies within the Twin Cities metro area, including the companies listed above and others such as Andersen Corporation, Ecolab, General Mills, Medica, and TCF Bank.

In this year’s class, more than 95% identify as students of color, and a significant majority qualify for free or reduced lunch and/or will be first-generation college students. This means that youth—and, by extension, their families and communities—who have been systemically trapped in generational poverty are being trained and prepared for hire in STEM fields. We open the door to opportunity, and students are taking advantage of it: they leverage the experiential education of their internship to inform their plans for college and career success and build an impactful professional network in the process.

And while these opportunities and relationships profoundly mark the lives of these high school students, Genesys Works is, quite literally, changing the face of the business and IT workforce. Over the course of 12 years, more than 2,000 students have gained access to paid, year-long professional internships through our Twin Cities program. So what does this mean for companies? It means we’re offering them exactly what they are seeking: access to local, diverse talent. Genesys Works works for students, communities, and companies.

We Start with High School Students
While many companies hire students who are in the midst of completing a college degree, we operate by a different philosophy. It’s more beneficial to engage youth earlier, and each year, companies increasingly invest in this idea. For the 2019–2020 school year alone, 56 Twin Cities companies welcomed 318 high school students into year-long professional work experiences.

Before they even enter a professional workspace, students participate in an intensive eight-week professional and technical training program to prepare them for hire. By the completion of their training in August, many students have already exhibited significant transformation in confidence and knowledge. And once they’ve entered the workforce, we supplement the experiential learning with additional trainings in college access: financial aid, college applications, etc. For many future firstgeneration college students, we provide the resources that have simply been inaccessible.

At 17 to 18 years of age, students attend class, complete homework, apply to college, scholarships, and financial aid, and maintain a social life. Genesys Works students do all that and much more. Working 20 hours per week at one of our corporate partners, they fill roles in data and quality assurance, development support, device deployment, helpdesk support, project coordination and operations support, or scrum/Agile methodologies. They’re moving towards a career in STEM before they even graduate high school. For companies, this means that a diverse workforce—one they will seek and need in the near future—is being built and trained in their very own workspace.

We Build Your Talent Pipeline
Although we begin our engagement with students in high school, our work does not end there. We support students through their post-secondary career until mission completion: career entrance and economic mobility.

Since our inception in 2008, all high school graduates—100% of our students graduate from high schoo —receive post-secondary support, which comes in the form of mentorship through financial aid, college transfers, and more. In recent years, our college and career success programming has become much more robust.

In 2018, we created the Talent Development Pipeline (TDP) program. Open to a selection of metro-area college students interested in pursuing a business or IT career, the program offers students exclusive access to year-long college internships, access to professional development workshops in technical, professional, and leadership skills, individualized college and career coaching and mentorship, and increased visibility and opportunity to connect with company leaders.

According to Amal Yusuf, current TDP participant and former high school intern at Deluxe Corporation, “Genesys Works provides students the exposure they need to help encourage us to step into the technology field. The field needs more diverse talent and leaders, and Genesys Works is allowing many corporations to gain that within their company.” So, for these companies, the program has potential to be a dream come true:

• Due to years of training, corporate experience, and mentorship through Genesys Works, interns are reliable and ready for hire;
• Local talent stays local, which means lower costs and quicker results in talent acquisition efforts;
• Interns are already familiar with company practices and culture, leading to higher retention and immediate productivity upon hire; and
• Current employees receive more mentorship opportunities, creating a sustainable mentorship model in the process.

Genesys Works

[email protected]
Main Office 445 Minnesota Street, Suite 720 St. Paul, MN 55101

Submit your Innovation Story

Join and network with a global community of innovators  by sharing your success story with the world.



Our promise: we dislike spam as much as the next person, and promise never to break your trust in us. We will never sell data – this is only used for the INNOVATE® Newsletter