11 Months, 11 Miles and a Life-Changing Internship

When the day arrived for Lisa Yang and Ia Lee to begin their year-long internships at Carlson, they traveled the 11 miles from Robbinsdale Cooper High School to the lobby of the Carlson Towers in eager anticipation. Gone was the din of passing time in crowded high school hallways and the familiar look of student lockers. These two 17-year old classmates were now immersed in the professional hush and imposing marble-clad walls of the Carlson Towers. Though they had spent their summer preparing for this moment through the Genesys Works program, now that it was here, it was still daunting.

When Chip Goodall (Information Technology Manager, Workplace Services), who would serve as their placement supervisor, arrived in the lobby, they knew they were in good hands. Chip started by giving them the whirlwind tour of all the members of their department. In fitting IT fashion, he allowed them to integrate to their new environment by setting-up their own workstations. 

Though this day may not have been quite as nerve-wracking for Chip and his team, this was the first year for having high school interns through Genesys Works and they were not sure what to expect. They had some ideas about how best to employ Ia and Lisa as part of their team, but as they started giving the interns tasks, they could not be certain of how well the two would perform.

It turns out they need not have worried. One Team Lead in their area, Angela Hedden-Solway, has been impressed with what she has seen. “I have seen extreme growth in both Lisa and Ia. They have gone from taking things one step at a time to being able to handle multiple projects/activities, prioritizing work and obtaining team goals.”

Because Genesys Works interns typically spend a full year in their positions, it allows supervisors and co-workers to invest in them and entrust to them work that truly helps the department. Chip says it this way: “They have helped us in a manner that we didn’t even see coming last fall. By having them on our staff, we were able to navigate some difficult staffing situations where we had shortages due to vacations and medical issues. They moved from building and repairing laptops and desktops to learning our security access request system and providing fulfillment support.”

Ia and Lisa are not isolated examples of high school students making a splash in corporate IT.  Last June, they were part of a cohort of 115 high-potential high school seniors that completed an intensive 8 week training course. All told, they dedicated 150 hours to acquire the skills they would need to survive in a professional job. They learned the basics of IT: PC hardware, software and networking. In addition, they trained on the essential professional skills and communication instruction that would help them to adapt to the corporate culture into which they would be immersed. They were not paid for the training, but did so realizing it was an investment in their preferred future.

These young women brought with them positive attitudes and a strong work ethic in hopes of earning a corporate IT internship during their final year of high school. Upon passing the final examinations from Genesys Works in August, they were excited to be “drafted” to work at Carlson.  

The impact at Carlson extends further than the work that they perform. Lisa and Ia have really enjoyed being a part of a larger team. Their manager, Chip Goodall, reports “At holiday time, they instituted our first annual holiday picture, which they proudly post in their cubes.” Angela commented that “There have been several times when they have come to Chip or I, where we had anticipated that they were going to be asking for time off and they are actually coming to let us know that they are available to work more if needed.”

Both Ia and Lisa will graduate from high school in two months and begin the next phase of their life’s journey, college, next year. They will leave Carlson after 11 months with more than the money they earned and the skills they gained. They will leave with a new perspective on professional success and deep gratitude for the opportunities and support provided by so many kind and caring people at the Carlson Companies.


 “Because of the professional surroundings, it has helped me adapt to the professional world and gave me the experience I needed to prepare for future opportunities.  My co-workers and supervisor at Carlson have all been a great part in my transition from a high school student to a young professional.” – Lisa Yang

“I have always seemed to doubt myself in the things I do because I was always scared of making a mistake. My team has always encouraged me that I can do it! It's made me feel good knowing that they trust me to do something that will help me learn more. They always helped me understand the task when I didn't understand it quite well. They have always had big hopes of me succeeding. I love working here.” – Ia Lee

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