Sara joined Genesys Works Bay Area in Summer 2021 as an English Language learner. A student at Oakland International High School, her high school guidance counselor recommended Sara for the program as a “very goal-oriented individual who strives for excellence.” The counselor added, “I think that this attitude is in part due to the number of sacrifices she and her family have made to come to the United States in search of a better education, opportunities, and future. She is a person who strives for excellence because she is curious and has a natural love for learning.” However, we were also told that Sara was lacking in confidence due to her English-speaking abilities. In Summer Skills Training, Sara excelled in the Data Analytics course taught by Golden Gate University, as mathematics cuts across languages. At the same time, she struggled in her Professional Skills course, where public speaking was a challenge for her.
Sara earned an analytics internship at Lockton, a new corporate partner for Genesys Works. The first few weeks were a significant challenge for her; Sara expressed to her program coordinator feeling frustrated that she couldn’t keep up with what was being asked of her, and she was embarrassed by the number of things that she was struggling to understand. Her Genesys Works program coordinator helped Sara prepare to discuss her feelings with her manager, Harpreet, who then created the opportunity to meet Sara in person at an outdoor, socially distanced lunch. During lunch, Harpreet shared with Sara that he had also learned English as an adult. He understood her challenges but saw her potential, and together they discussed ways that Sara could gain more confidence in her work.
That conversation propelled Sara to turn a corner in her internship. With Harpreet’s support, she found the courage to speak up in meetings and ask questions when she had them, despite not always having the right words. Her confidence has improved, she has fully integrated into her team, and her guidance counselor has even told us that she has become more involved in school. For example, Sara is leading the graduation planning committee at Oakland International, and she recently served as a student ambassador for Genesys Works to recruit the next class of students into the program. Sara plans to attend college next year with a focus on Business Management and she has been accepted into four California universities.
Note: Names have been changed to maintain confidentiality