Ita’s days start early. On a normal weekday, she is out of bed by 5:30 am and on her way to her morning classes. After finishing up a modest course load including Finance, Medicine, English and Biology classes, Ita heads downtown to her internship with Geraci Law.
You might think this is an average day for a college student, only Ita isn’t in college; Ita is a high school senior.
Ita is one of 140 students participating in the Genesys Works Chicago program this year. Genesys Works connects students from underserved Chicago communities with paid internships, providing them with the skills they need to thrive in a professional setting.
From Monday to Friday during the school year, Ita attends classes at Benito Juarez Community Academy in the morning, and each afternoon from 1:00 to 5:00 pm, she works as a Paralegal Intern at Geraci Law in the Chicago Loop. On her first day, she was a bundle of nerves, which could be due to the auspicious date of August 21. “When I arrived on Day 1, no one was inside the office,” recalls Ita. “The solar eclipse was happening, and I got to watch it with my new supervisor!”
Although cosmic events may be rare at her year-long internship, Ita already has some remarkable experiences under her belt. Recently, she was able to use her bilingual skills to help a colleague collect information from a Spanish-speaking client. “It was really exciting,” Ita remarks on using her language skills at her internship. “I felt really important, like I was really helping someone.”
Ita’s high school, Benito Juarez Community Academy, is located in the vibrant Pilsen neighborhood. Pilsen, home to a large Latino community, is known for its strong community engagement, and Benito Juarez is no different. The beautiful campus, designed by Mexican architect Pedro Ramirez Vazquez, stands as a celebration of the Mexican heritage of the area, including colorful murals around the school painted by Mexican-American artists.
“I’ve had the privilege and pleasure to work with Ita from the start of summer training to now,” says Alison Farajpanahi, Program Coordinator at Genesys Works Chicago. “She has fine-tuned her attention to detail, and it shows through the high-quality work she produces!”
Like many of her peers, Ita’s days begin and end at home. What happens between then, however, is what separates Ita from the crowd, and also what sets her on a path to a truly bright future.
Celebrate break through moments like Ita’s, and celebrate our 8th cohort entering the professional world, at our signature annual event Breaking Through, taking place on October 25 at Harris Theater. RSVP today.
As part of an ongoing series, Genesys Works Chicago is highlighting the GW Class of 2018. Each Young Professional is a high school senior with a year-long internship at a prominent Chicago corporation.
About Genesys Works
Genesys Works is a nonprofit social enterprise changing the trajectory of life for disadvantaged high school students through meaningful work experiences. Its program consists of eight weeks of technical and professional skills training, a paid year-long corporate internship, college and career coaching, and alumni support to and through college. Its 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 nearly 3,000 students annually in Houston, Chicago, Minneapolis/St. Paul, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Washington’s National Capital Region. To learn more, visit genesysworks.org.