Beyond the Internship: Coworker Offers Intern Unique Opportunities

While most people are terrified of public speaking, Kia would rather stand before a crowd of 50 people than introduce herself to a stranger.

Yet, when she looked out at the world beyond her high school, she saw how important it is to interact well with others, especially in a professional environment. After hearing about Genesys Works from the interns in the class ahead of her at Columbia Heights High School, she realized that the summer training and internship could be an amazing opportunity to step outside her comfort zone and gain more confidence.

She wasn’t disappointed: in addition to weekly speaking assignments during the eight-week training, Kia was also asked to walk out into the Minneapolis skyway system and introduce herself to someone new. Approaching an unknown man in a nice suit, she remembers clenching her fists to hide her shaking hands. It was a challenging moment, but the man was incredibly kind, and he offered her some on-the-spot feedback: speak with more confidence and develop a firmer handshake.

Kia and her coworker Dustin
What began in summer training didn’t end there. Arriving at Target, Kia found herself supported by her coworker, Dustin Hassemer, who enthusiastically took on the task of mentoring her. In addition to answering her questions and monitoring her performance on the job, he worked with Genesys Works Program Coordinator Lauren Nakamura to design activities that would help her get the most out of her year at Target.

Together, Kia and Dustin visited the campuses of Saint Thomas and Saint Kate’s. He arranged for her to take the Clifton StrengthsFinder. And periodically, he accompanies her down to the Target lobby to repeat the exercise from the summer: she must introduce herself to someone new and learn more about them.

Kia hasn’t entirely overcome her fear of meeting new people (“I would need to do it 1,000 more times to be comfortable,” she says), but her increased confidence is easy to spot, and it’s a change Dustin is proud to witness, because it allows her to succeed in a work culture where verbal communication is expected and valued.

Dustin continues to push her toward new challenges and compares his approach to his father’s strategy when he was first learning to drive. “Growing up in a small town in Wisconsin… my father brought me over to the Twin Cities and taught me how to drive in rush hour traffic. He told me if I could drive in rush hour traffic here, I could drive anywhere. “

From Dustin's perspective, Kia’s year-long internship offers a similar opportunity. Kia has to stretch beyond her comfort zone, but she is picking up valuable skills that will continue to serve her in college and her career. “If Kia can navigate and be successful at Target,” he says, “she can be successful just about anywhere life takes her.”

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