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Where the Magic Happens

In Chicago, two very special people are the wizards that seem to magically transform a group of high school students into IT technicians within eight weeks. Susan Sands and Mariam Abdelrahim do not just teach; they inspire their Young Professionals to aspire for more by giving them the understanding that through hard-work they can achieve more than they could ever imagine.

We took the opportunity to interview Mariam and Susan after summer training ended to learn more about how they are able to make such an amazing impact as a part of the Genesys Works program.

From Mariam Abdelrahim:

I have a passion for teaching and how education is able to make a difference in people’s lives. Genesys Works provided me with a great opportunity to work with people eager to make a difference in their own lives and communities. The message of change that the staff and we, the IT instructors, emphasize was consistent and clear. With the staff, we were able to help our trainees dare to dream and hope for bigger goals.

As training progressed, I witnessed my trainees struggle with prioritizing and a lack of confidence in their ability to learn the material. For instance, coming to training on time every day and not being able to leave early was tough for some; especially during the Chicago summer, which is very short as is.

I focused on providing excellent, quality IT instruction to enable my trainees to function in a job environment, no matter what the demands. I bonded with my trainees and developed a great relationship with them as a mentor, instructor, and role model. I am pleased to say that I witnessed significant growth in technical skills and self-esteem for many of my trainees as training ended.

The Genesys Works staff also worked hard to support and guide them to succeed. It helped when a former intern came back to visit and looked and acted like a successful young adult.

There are many memories that I will treasure from this summer. But, one memory stands out: when the Young Professionals were awarded their internships at the end of the program. I will never forget the joy and sense of accomplishment on their faces. For some, they are the first in their families to have the opportunity to go to college. This is the beginning of a tradition that, hopefully, will be continued by their siblings and a chance for a brighter future.

I consider myself very lucky to have found this program and feel blessed to be a part of this mission. I thank you for inviting me to join your team and be a part of your organization. I am truly honored.

From Susan Sands:

Genesys Works is a rare opportunity to reach out to young adults and help them take advantage of a program that provides a comprehensive approach to education and career training. I am amazed at the change in students when I see them after they have completed the program.

Realizing that a “one-size fits all” approach does not work when teaching the technology part of the program probably had the greatest impact on their success. I altered the way that we used some of the traditional tools available, allowing them to see small successes along the way.  For example, this summer, I had several trainees that were scoring low on Cisco assessments. As these scores were posted, I could see the looks of disappointment. The use of the study guides did not seem to be the best way for them to learn the material. Instead, I had them create flashcards for the study guide questions using animations in PowerPoint. We played “Around the World” with the virtual flashcards and the scores went up for every trainee. There was a definite sense of accomplishment and an added bounce to their step as they left that day. Whether it be scoring better on an assessment or being able to troubleshoot a computer problem on their own, when they master that task, it starts to build the confidence they need to be successful.

For me, the most gratifying part of teaching at Genesys Works is seeing the transformation that the program and work experience provides. Interns that came back and visited were more confident and had a greater maturity about them. Interns that were shy and quiet during training were more open and personable. In others, I saw a level of confidence and maturity that developed after completing the program. Genesys Works gives them a chance to see that they can succeed and better prepares them for a successful college experience.

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