Unlocking Student Potential

April 26, 2024

Our Genesys Works Young Professionals are among the most talented and skilled interns in the Twin Cities Metro area with the potential to grow in their post-secondary or direct-to-work plans in college and from there, on to be strong business leaders in their respective fields.  So, how do they unlock that potential?  With a lot of training, one-on-one interaction, and support every step of the way. 

In this month’s blog, we’re featuring Samina Ali, a School Champion at Johnson High School. Samina is one of hundreds of dedicated volunteers who work with our YPs to help them make the most of their internship experience with Genesys Works, as well as helping them look toward their future.

We asked her five questions to see what being a School Champion has meant for students, as well as for the Champion herself.

How did you first get involved with Genesys Works?

I started working in Saint Paul in 2004. I was an elementary counselor and then I got this position as a college and career counselor at Johnson High School. I started here in 2011.

After a couple years, I was asked if I wanted to take on a partnership with Genesys Works and I was very happy to learn about it. It was just such a wonderful opportunity for our students.

I work with students on college career items, and I’ve kept that up for almost 10 years now. So, it’s been wonderful.

What’s the growth and development you’ve seen in students?

I have just seen the kids’ confidence grow exponentially. I really have. I’ve seen them gain opportunities that they would not have otherwise; gaining those professional skills because you know, you have to have those personal connections, those networks.

Many of our students are first generation college students, so they may not have been exposed to working in a professional setting or networking.

We help the students with their resumes. That’s something we work with all kids at Johnson, and they can use that when they do their interview for example — just using those real-life skills that they’re going to need for the future.

And then seeing them just go for this opportunity – and during their senior year just thriving, being like little adults, doing their internship. They’re talking about what they are accomplishing, the meetings that they’re having, and impact they are making. Seeing the growth that happens from junior year when they first start the process to the end of senior year is just amazing.

What have you learned or gained personally as a GWTC school champion?

I think for me personally, I’ve just had a chance to really work with those kids much more closely than I would have probably otherwise. Making sure that they are able to leave for part of the school day and still be able to accomplish everything that they need to do for their internship and everything they need to do for school.  Just seeing how this sparked that growth within them, that personal growth and how it has prepared them for college or any higher education that they are interested in pursuing. I just see that confidence growing.

I think that helps me, seeing them thinking about their future. As a counselor, that’s what we’re working with kids on — working on their future, what they want to do. It just gives them one more opportunity.

Is there anything that you want to make sure people know about Genesys Works impact on students in the program?

I keep seeing the maturity in the students from when they start to when they finish their internship. They’re scheduling meetings, they’re working with these databases with all this confidential information, and I see them really thriving and doing well with that.

I also like that they get that mentorship from the adult in the professional setting because the expectations that you have in the internship might be different than the expectations you have at school.

How do you communicate to your team if you’re having trouble meeting a deadline? How do you deal with the real world if you are being asked to do too much? How can you communicate that, and set those boundaries? I feel like it’s a way for them to just kind of grow up and get that real life experience too.

Any advice to others who could be in your position?

My advice is to go for it because it is life-changing for our students. A lot of students may not believe that this is something they can do. Some of them have told me, “I have never worked with computers. I don’t know about business.”

And I tell them that’s OK. That’s what this program is there for, right? It’s to give you those skills, give you those opportunities.

So, I would say just go for it. Work with your other colleagues, identify which students maybe don’t seek out opportunities as much and reach out to them.

We always hear about the kids who are going for all these opportunities. But sometimes you have to reach out to some of the students who may not be as well connected or may not believe in themselves as much and really encourage them to take part in this.

This is something that you can do. Working with the whole school; it has to be a school-wide effort. It’s not just on the school champion. We work as a team here.


Latest Posts