York Solutions, in partnership with Genesys Works Twin Cities, the Think IT Association, and Wallin Education Partners, is excited to announce the 2020 Think IT Scholarship winners: Veronica Venegas, Sue Xiong, Faiza Mah, and Pa Gar Vang.
As part of the scholarship, these four driven Genesys Works Twin Cities alumni and current college students will each receive $8,000 to be distributed over two years. But, the Think IT scholarship offers a lot more than financial support. The program is designed to holistically support students: in the classroom, financially, and through career exploration and mentorship. As Think IT scholars, these four will receive personalized professional support and guidance, receive access to college-to-career programs, and get the opportunity to connect with technology and business professionals.
Each of these students has a story worth telling. So, we decided to sit down with each of these esteemed winners to hear – in their own words – how they got to where they are today and where they hope to go next.
In our final feature, we are excited to spotlight Pa Gar Vang, a sophomore at the University of Minnesota who hopes to become a web designer. As a Class of 2018 Genesys Works young professional, Pa Gar interned at Abbott and attended high school at Johnson Aerospace & Engineering High School. She also earned a college internship at Target and recently wrote a guest blog about forging her career path in web design. You can read that story here.
We caught up with Pa Gar now to hear more of her thoughts as a recent scholar.
Genesys Works: What is the most exciting aspect of the Think IT scholarship?
GW: What excites you about Information Technology?
PGV: There are so many different fields and careers found under this umbrella! I am an aspiring web/user experience designer, and I just recently discovered how much of IT it is! Not only that, but it is also continuously changing and evolving over the years, which means I am constantly going to be encountering challenges and learning something new.
GW: Do you have a mentor or a particular person who has helped you along the way to receiving this scholarship?
PGV: I would have to give credit to my sister. As an alumnus herself, she introduced me to Wallin’s Scholarship when I was in high school, but due to personal reasons, I couldn’t apply for it. There was a slight feeling of regret, but I had hoped there were more opportunities up ahead. When I first saw the email regarding this opportunity, the first buzzword I saw was Wallins. It felt like I was given a second chance because this time it was offered to Genesys Works alumnus. I knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity!
GW: How do you think your Genesys Works experience prepared you for or contributed to this scholarship opportunity?
PGV: I’m really thankful for Genesys Works because I would not have found out about the scholarship without them. I didn’t even know they offered scholarships to students until I entered college. With the help of Genesys Works, I was able to get insight into a career I always was curious about. I was able to discover an interest I didn’t really know I had until I took on an internship.
GW: How have you been challenged by projects in your internship? What impact does this have on you?
PGV: Taking initiative has been a skill I have been trying to get better at. I describe myself as fairly introverted, so initiating conversations and meeting new people can sometimes be a struggle. Through my internship experience, I can say it has helped me improve a lot. At Target, I receive projects from various people, not just one designated person. Sometimes this can be a challenge, too, because I am taking on a project different from the previous one I’ve done. However, it is nice because I get to learn something new! For example, I represented my team members in a guest insights event by myself where I conversed with many external sources about our products. This was challenging for me at first because I never held questionnaires or facilitated this type of event by myself. However, I learned a lot about asking good questions. There are ways I can guide the audience, so I can receive the type of feedback I wanted through the questions I ask. It was an amazing experience because I was able to initiate a lot of these conversations on my own. Overall, Target has had a big impact on me. I get to initiate many different meetings to discuss these projects and meet new individuals. After doing a few, I learned that taking initiative hasn’t been as hard, and I am able to converse better than when I first started.
GW: What value do you believe you’ve added to Target as a Genesys Works college intern?
PGV: I always try my best to be available. I work with several designers on my floor, so I try to give them a hand whenever they need help. I take on projects both from my designated team and teams that are not. I try my best to be dependable by reaching out to them for a project or being open on my calendar for any assistance.
GW: What was the biggest challenge of your transition to college?
PGV: I think the biggest challenge for me was financial responsibility. Budgeting was not my strongest strength, so sometimes I found myself off track a few times. I didn’t realize how expensive college was. Expenses for books and other materials were not added to the bill, so the costs for it were something I was not prepared for.
GW: What was your reaction to receiving this scholarship?
PGV: I kid you not, I was shocked! I had to check every platform and reread the information over a few times just to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. This is actually my first scholarship, so I was overfilled with joy. Little did I know, I was pulling a little happy dance.
GW: What advice would you give to students as they finish up their Genesys Works internships and look towards college and postsecondary plans?
PGV: Invest in yourself! Identify your interests and find what your strengths and weaknesses are. This can frame an easier path to get started on. You may be confused right now on what your future plans are, so talking to someone and learning about their career journey might spark something for you. Be curious, and set up a time to meet some of the professionals in your company! You are very lucky to be in a place filled with many amazing people and resources. Definitely ask lots of questions.