Corporations tap into potential of Bronx high schoolers

Genesys Works students have higher rates of college enrollment and completion, and a greater ability to obtain meaningful employment given their internship experiences.
Courtesy of Mike Jue

A national nonprofit is creating a pipeline of Black and Brown high school students from the Bronx and placing them into internships in corporations across New York City.

Genesys Works, which has six programs across the country and was launched in New York in 2018, is providing students from under-resourced neighborhoods access to the tools, skills and networks they need to become economically self-sufficient.

The internships began last summer and approximately 20 high school students received 160 hours of training in technical and workplace skills. Typically, training occurs in person, but currently it is virtual, due to the pandemic.

The teens are then placed in corporate internships for a year and can earn $14,000. This can have a huge effect on families as the median income for a family in the Bronx is $38,000 a year.

“What we try to do is level the playing field for them,” said Mike Gross, executive director of Genesys Work’s NYC program. “Many of our young professionals are really putting food on the tables for their family.”

Gross explained that the students apply to the program and are then interviewed. However, the Genesys focuses on the “mighty middle,” meaning those who are doing well, but could do better.

Most Genesys Works students are trained for internships in IT, while others may support companies’ business operations, accounting, or engineering needs.Courtesy of Genesys Works

According to Gross, for many of their kids this is not only their first internship, but something no one in their family had the opportunity to do before.

In its first year, students interned at JP Morgan, Chase, Kirkland & Ellis and many other big companies. Many continued the internship as they went to college.

“One of the biggest impacts we’ve had is what they see as possible in their lives,” Gross said. “They have the opportunity to become part of the team and make valuable contributions.”

Genesys Works helps the teens not just find jobs, but rather select a college, major and career.

One of the young adults involved in the program is Steffi Rivera of Kingsbridge. Rivera was in the first class of young professionals and completed her 12-month internship with Mizuho Securities. Due to her hard work and dedication, Mizuho extended her internship during her freshman year of college at Buffalo.

Rivera, who has aspirations of being a lawyer, was surprised when she first heard about Genesys. But, she was instantly hooked after seeing a presentation at school where they asked if one’s life had ever changed in 15 minutes.

“I automatically knew Genesys would be a stepping stone to reaching my goal in the future,” she explained.

She interned Monday through Friday from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m., where she learned about the corporate world, how to work in teams, build a resume and interview.

Rivera noted she wasn’t treated differently and felt right at home.

“These are skills people need to know,” she stressed. “I think Genesys would work in communities like mine.”

 

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