It’s a Draft Day that even the NFL would envy.

On August 14, we hosted our ninth annual Draft Day. This year, 292 high school seniors who completed the Genesys Works training program and 15 college alumni earned a paid, one-year corporate IT internship at one of 56 corporations in the Twin Cities region. For the high school students, their 20-hour work schedule begins now and continues through their high school graduation until they begin their post-secondary studies in August 2019.

Since 2008, Genesys Works has continued to grow the number of students served across the Twin Cities, with almost 1,900 high school students completing training and earning a year-long corporate internship. Of the students who complete their internship, 96% have enrolled in college, and students are 3.5 times more likely to earn four-year college degrees than their peers. Genesys Works alumni who are in the workforce earn on average $45-50k per year.

“Draft Day is our favorite day of work of the entire year!” said Karen Marben, Executive Director of Genesys Works – Twin Cities. “We celebrate the students’ hard work during the eight weeks of summer training and match them with their new workplace supervisors who will become really important mentors to enable the students to reach their full potential. The newly-drafted young professionals in the Genesys Works Class of 2019 are filling a critical workforce gap in the technology teams of our corporate partners.”

Held at the Saint Paul RiverCentre, this high-energy event drew over 1,500 people, including young professionals’ families and friends, Genesys Works school and corporate partners and board members, and, community members. The presenting sponsors of this year’s Draft Day were Target and York Solutions.

Three young professionals from the Class of 2019 were given speaking opportunities throughout the program. Mike Kombate, a senior at Blaine High School and drafted to Medtronic, provided introductory remarks and introduced both Mike McNamara, Executive Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer at Target, and Karen Marben, Executive Director of Genesys Works Twin Cities. After the draft, Zahra Mustafa, a senior at Eagan High School and drafted to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Minnesota, provided a moving keynote speech centered on curiosity, optimism, grit, and compassion. To finish out the program, Jacky Thao, a senior at Harding High School in St. Paul and drafted to Minnesota Public Radio, led the crowd in an enthusiastic breakthrough cheer.

To quote Jacky Thao and the Genesys Works young professionals: “What are we going to do? Break through!”

Genesys Works provides pathways to career success for high school students in underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships. Our program consists of 8 weeks of technical and professional skills training, a paid year-long corporate internship, college and career coaching, and alumni support to and through college. Our goal is to move more students out of poverty and into professional careers, creating a more productive and diverse workforce in the process. Since its founding in 2002, Genesys Works has grown to serve more than 4,000 students annually in Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington’s National Capital Region. To learn more, visit

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