What comes to mind when you think of your first summer job. Lifeguarding? Ice cream? Fast food?
It’s probably not dressing professionally every day and going to work at downtown Saint Paul firms like Ecolab, Securian, Travelers, or the Metropolitan Council. But that’s exactly what 21 Saint Paul high school sophomores did this summer through the Right Track Initiative, a new partnership between Genesys Works and the City of Saint Paul’s Youth Job Corps program.
Here’s how it works: Genesys Works and the City of Saint Paul collaborate to identify low-income students who have some work experience but are motivated to take the next step toward a professional career. These youth—nearly all high school sophomores—interview with Genesys Works and City employees and are placed in high quality jobs in a professional environment. For almost all of them, it is the first time they have entered, much less worked in, this kind of atmosphere. Crucially, Genesys Works staff meet with Right Track interns once per week to train on professional skills and discuss the successes and obstacles of working life. Students who complete the summer are eligible for the core training and year-long internship for which Genesys Works is known.
The impact from this internship and training has been clear: students have their first glimpse of the professional workplace and come to see themselves as part of that world. And the interns are motivated by something even larger: changing society’s perception about what they are capable of. As one Right Track intern put it, “I want to show my employer that they can expect more from a high school student like me than they thought.”
|Right Track students smile for a group photo.|