When Brandon Lara Gutierrez, a student at George Washington High School, finished his Summer Skills Training with Genesys Works, he had already exceeded his own expectations. “I never expected to make it this far,” Brandon said. Coming off a tough junior year – one marred by suspensions and other disciplinary action – Brandon knew he wanted to “make a change for himself and turn his life around.” Making it through the 8-week skills training was a huge first step, but Brandon was still grappling with some vestiges of imposter syndrome as he began his internship on Atlassian’s Web Production team.
“The first two weeks at Atlassian were a bit rough,” Brandon admits now. “I felt like a fish out of water; I didn’t feel like I belonged.” As time went on, Brandon began to realize that his colleagues not only wanted to know his thoughts, but they also genuinely cared about him. “This was completely new to me,” he says. The feeling truly crystalized for him during his first performance review when Brandon’s supervisor, Mike, asked, “Brandon, how can I help you? What are you interested in?” As Brandon reflects on that moment, he admits, “I was taken aback – I didn’t know how to respond. I had never previously been put in a position like that. Most of the bosses I’ve had treated me like a to-do list with arms and legs. Mike was the first boss who didn’t treat me that way, who wanted to know what I cared about, who took interest in my interests.”
Brandon was experiencing a key tenet of Atlassian’s core values – building with heart and balance – that continued to be embodied by the team around him throughout his internship. Atlassian’s partnership with Genesys Works began in 2018. Since then, Atlassian has hosted seven Bay Area young professionals and provided volunteers for many Genesys Works events, including Mock Interviews and Networking Day. In 2020, as the country wrestled with the impacts of both systemic racism and a pandemic upon our society, the Atlassian Foundation made a significant philanthropic investment into Genesys Works Bay Area (along with 5 other nonprofit organizations that sit at the intersection of education and racial justice). Mallory Burke, Atlassian’s Social Impact Lead, notes:
Looking back, Brandon pinpoints his conversation with Mike as a pivotal moment in his Atlassian journey. “That conversation immersed me in Atlassian culture. Before then, I had felt like a visitor. Once I realized they cared about me, I started caring about them. That was huge for me. I felt like an Atlassian. Something so simple – but it literally changed the way that I view work. It helped me to realize that I mattered. By shattering that stigma, that I didn’t deserve to be there, I was able to break through to become a better person.”
Atlassian’s partnership with Genesys Works Bay Area continues to pay dividends for the young professionals they’ve hosted. Brandon will finish his internship with Atlassian in September and has been accepted to City College of San Francisco. He hopes to use the web design skills he learned at Atlassian to build his own e-commerce website in the future. “I’m really proud of the person I’ve become,” Brandon says. We’re really proud of you too Brandon – and so grateful for Atlassian’s continued support of Genesys Works.