Empowering Sustainable Change

January 19, 2021

Stories

Chicago

Genesys Works Chicago has made a difference in the lives of over 1,000 Chicago youth. After a decade of providing meaningful work opportunities to Chicago Young Professionals and a pipeline of diverse, talented students to Chicago companies, we see the collective impact of our work on our community: sustainable positive change.

Few people better represent this sustainable change than Odalys Lara, a Class 7 Genesys Works Chicago alum. Her Genesys Works journey began when she was a senior at Marie Curie High School and heard a representative of our program speak to her class about the possibilities of a Genesys Works internship.

“While in high school, I didn’t really have a sense of direction. When people asked me what I wanted to do with my life, I didn’t have an answer, and that scared me,” Odalys recalls. “Unfortunately, in the Latino community, we are rarely encouraged to pursue higher education. There is a much greater emphasis on getting a job to financially help your family instead.”

Still, Odalys decided to apply to Genesys Works, explore a new opportunity, and broaden her horizons. After being accepted to the program, Odalys thrived in the eight weeks of skills training that prepares our Young Professionals to meaningfully contribute to corporate partner teams throughout their year-long internships.

“Little did I know at the time how valuable the skills I learned with Genesys Works would prove to be. From learning professional office etiquette to problem-solving to technical skills in accounting, I entered the corporate environment feeling like a real part of the team, and not just a high school intern,” Odalys said, reflecting on her experience.

“Little did I know at the time how valuable the skills I learned with Genesys Works would prove to be.”

As a Young Professional at Genesys Works, Odalys interned with the Trade Settlement team at William Blair. While there, she gained real-world experience, supporting the settlement of trades across domestic and international equities, derivatives, and fixed income.

But, the benefits of her internship didn’t end after graduation, and neither did the support she received from Genesys Works. As a first-generation college student from a low-income family, Odalys credits GWC with helping her through the college application process. After being accepted to St. Xavier University, she was also offered a part-time position with William Blair throughout college. When she finished her bachelor’s degree in accounting two and half short years later, she had a full-time job offer at William Blair waiting for her.

“Now that I look back, one of the most impactful ways Genesys Works helped me is that they gave me direction. And, not only did they give me direction, but they continued to support me throughout my journey. I went from a person that had no academic aspirations after high school to thinking about college, my future, what to do with my life, and the path I was going to take to get there.”

“Now that I look back, one of the most impactful ways Genesys Works helped me is that they gave me direction. And, not only did they give me direction, but they continued to support me throughout my journey.”

Now, as a Fund Accountant for William Blair and an MBA student at DePaul University, Odalys aims to give back to the program that provided her direction and opportunity when she needed it. In September of 2020, Odalys Lara joined the Genesys Works Chicago Board of Directors as the first GWC alum member.

“As a product of Genesys Works, I believe in the program. I feel a responsibility to give back to my community and give others the opportunities that were given to me. All people like me need is an opportunity, and Genesys Works provides that opportunity.”

You can help fuel change by providing students like Odalys the opportunity to realize their true potential. Give your gift today.

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