By Josh Davidson, Co-Founder and Principal
The tech industry in Chicago is one place where we can—and should–provide young people opportunities through jobs and internships.
Graduation season is a special time for me. As a board member of Genesys Works Chicago, I have the privilege of watching the high school students we’ve worked with graduate and move on to college.
This hits especially close to home this year as Samantha Fernandez, who recently completed a 10-month internship with our company, graduates today from Marie Curie High School in Chicago.
Sammie helped us 20-hours each week with back office duties, including administrative tasks, finance and accounting. Sam will continue her education at Harold Washington Community College in Chicago this Fall. She is one of the 138 Chicago-area high school students who will be placed in a work internship this year through Genesys Works. Gaining a leg up on career success through IT skills training and work experience, 94 percent of internship participants go on to enroll in college.
“I enjoyed working at Prime TSR. The work was challenging, but in a good way. I learned communication is important, and to take initiative,” said Samantha, adding that her time in the workplace will help prepare her for college because she learned how to interact with different personalities.
For Sammie, and other 2018 high school graduates, here are my top three pieces of advice for success:
- Creativity counts. Have a life and passions outside of school or work. I love to take photos of wildlife. I had the opportunity to travel to the Arctic Circle and photograph polar bears. Photography allows me to take my mind off work and expand my thinking in new ways, both in my personal and professional life. It’s also a great way for me to destress.
- Embrace empathy. You may be the best at what you do, or the smartest. But if you don’t have empathy, it will be difficult to advance in your career. Put yourself in others’ shoes and understand both their personal and professional goals, and then you can help others, and ultimately yourself, be successful.
- Push yourself. It’s easy to put yourself on cruise control in work or school, especially if things get tough. Instead, be mindful and look for opportunities to go the extra mile and push through any obstacle.
Congratulations to all the 2018 graduates—I wish you much success in whichever path you choose to follow after graduation! As for me and my colleagues, we look forward to hosting another amazing intern from Genesys Works in the Fall. If you or your company are interested in hosting an intern—check out the website or reach out to me directly. We’d welcome the opportunity to help you!