Deepening Connections: Intern Interview with Board Member

February 27, 2024

Through the Genesys Works program, Young Professionals participate in meaningful paid business and technology internships. Day-to-day work includes working in a corporate environment onsite with a team of established professionals.  Throughout their internship experience, there are very few opportunities for the interns to connect with those who support our program at the highest level, the Genesys Works board. The board includes many passionate executives who strongly support the mission of providing pathways to underserved communities through skills training, meaningful work experiences, and impactful relationships. 

Recently, a young professional asked what the Genesys Works board discusses and accomplishes during their meetings. This seemed like an excellent opportunity to connect an intern and board member for both to gain more insight into the motivations, experiences, and hopes for participating in Genesys Works in each of their respective capacities. 

Naomi G. has been an exemplary intern in her role within the HR Portal with Medtronic, creating systems for organization and being a leader in creating a Medtronic-GW newsletter for interns and supervisors. Tammy M. has been a GW board member since 2023 and leads in her role of Vice President IT, Structural Heart & Aortic at Medtronic. Naomi and Tammy sat down for an interview for this month’s blog post to gain insight, understanding, and an awesome networking opportunity. 

N: What makes your role at Medtronic important?

T: Medtronic is a MedTech company, and what is cool about that is that we are at the center of where business and technology come together…it is a lot of responsibility, but it’s really exciting, too. It allows us to contribute to all aspects of the business, from product development, to marketing those products, to building those products, to shipping them and getting them in the hands of the healthcare providers and doctors. Technology and data do really enhance that experience. 

Naomi also asked Tammy to share more about why she became involved in the Genesys Works board. 

T: A former board member working at my organization was “rolling off” the GW board, so I got tapped on the shoulder and asked if I would be interested in exploring what it could mean to be on the next Medtronic board member at Genesys Works. I started researching the program and how involved Medtronic was in it. But more importantly, I was drawn to the mission of Genesys Works. I really believe in it, and I am excited about the mission. Genesys Works provides so many different opportunities for young adults to explore what it is like to have a job in corporate America. I, too, was a first-generation college student in my family, so this was really important to me. By being a board member of Genesys Works, it is an opportunity for me to “pay it forward.”

N: Can you tell me more about the board meetings, what you meet about, and what are the goals of these meetings?

T: Typically, we listen to a report on operations, how the program is going and persisting overall, how we are achieving the goals that we set out to accomplish. So, whether that’s program goals, financial goals or quality goals, the staff team shares key information to let us know how we are performing as an organization. Like all other boards, there are also committees. Each board member is on a committee, and typically each committee reports out at these meetings. The board is very strategic focused, really looking ahead long-term over the course of the year, and the course of the next couple of years with program, partnerships and organization viability. If there is anything topical, the chairman of the board will bring that up and the committees will ensure we have all the data and information ready to discuss options and resources and make the decision. That helps us move things forward. 

N: What is your favorite part about interacting with other members on the board?

T: I value meeting new people. It’s important to create community around you, whether it’s in your personal or professional life. That’s been one of the really great things about being on the board, meeting all of these great leaders from across organizations around the Twin Cities with a shared interest, a strong purpose, and a strong belief that we have in this program. 

N: I really agree with that. It is so important to have a social community because you learn a lot from meeting new people. 

T: And that was one of the lessons that I was fortunate enough to learn. I think it was probably in my nature, too. One of my early mentors talked to me about keeping your networks live and active. As you go through your career, you are going to meet wonderful people that you work well with, who push you and motivate you, and they help you be a better person. Keeping those folks in your network is especially important. From every role I’ve had, I still have people in my phone I can call who are a connection from a variety of different positions. You never know where your career is going to take you. 

Tammy shared a story of someone from her network from 15 years ago who reached out because she was applying at Medtronic. They were able to pick up their working relationship where it left off, and Tammy was able to offer advice through the application process. 

N: What are your thoughts on the interns you have had experience with? And is there anything that you think can improve their internship experience?

T: Having a manager who can take the time to coach on professional aspects and helping the intern onboard and navigate into this corporate world. It’s also about helping the intern feel a part of the team, inviting them to be a part of team meetings, part of the broader organization to get a broader employee experience. Being part of a company is more than just doing your job.  It is about being a part of the community and the culture of the company. 

T: I think the other thing is that supervisors should take the time to learn from their interns, too, not just to teach them. I haven’t been to college in a number of years. My perspective on entering the corporate environment is quite different from yours as you are about to go into college. How do I, as a leader in the company, learn from you (interns)? How can I keep myself current to be a better manager, a better leader to young talent coming into the organization? 

N: I recently wrote a paper about that. There is a statistic that most students entering college are preparing for jobs that don’t even exist yet. It’s more than just technical skills. 

T: Yeah! We have to learn how to learn. And learn how to learn quickly and be agile to abandon what we’ve learned before and learn something new. It’s really about not placing any hierarchical barriers between our interns and us as senior leaders so that we can learn from each other. 

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