Developing my career while attending school

By Michelle Villagran

Genesys Works, Class of 2015

I remember being fascinated by all of the working professionals I would see walking through downtown Oakland or San Francisco. I always wondered what kind of jobs they had, because their lifestyles seemed so different than what I was used to growing up. Little did I know that at 16 years old I would be preparing myself to work in that same type of corporate environment and kick-off my professional career while still in high school.

Genesys Works helps high school seniors who come from low income families, like myself, obtain meaningful internships. As a senior, I interned at Peet’s Coffee & Tea, where I supported the IT department with entry-level duties. Through the Genesys Works alumni program, I interned at Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) as a freshman in college. There, I continued with IT support and focused on Oracle’s Unifier software, a best-in-class project management solution. Interning at PG&E made me realize that I wanted to pursue a career in technology, and throughout the internship I knew that in order to get the most out of it, I had to work twice as hard.

I believe internships are comparable to a really long interview – I had to prove to others that I was capable of producing quality work. It didn’t help that I was only 18, but I knew that if I worked hard, people would eventually look past my age and trust that I could perform. My hard work paid off when my internship came to an end, and at just 19 years old, I was offered a full-time position at PG&E as a Unifier Specialist while I continued my college education.

 

Fast forward to today, I have been working full-time at PG&E for almost two years. I am now 20 years old, just transferred to San Francisco State University, and I have recently accepted another opportunity within PG&E to further develop my career – moving from Gas Ops to Electric Ops.

 

Genesys Works introduced me to a corporate environment at 16 that most people don’t get to experience until after graduating college. Had I not joined Genesys Works, I would still be indecisive about my career path. Instead, I am developing my career while attending school, surrounded by professionals who I am learning from daily, and continuing to leverage opportunities for myself.

Genesys Works helped me jump-start my career, it is a step toward further inclusion and an increase of diversity in the work place. Not only does the program provide youth with the opportunity to do meaningful work at major corporations, but it introduces the possibility of working in a professional environment to students, especially young women, who otherwise would have a hard time getting those opportunities. If companies continue to support organizations like Genesys Works, then we can ensure underserved youth are being prepared with the resources they need to become successful, which in turn creates a stronger, more diverse workforce.

If you would have told 16-year-old me that four years later I would become one of the women who I admired while walking downtown all those years ago, I would have never believed you. Yet here I am, charting my own pathway to success!

 

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Our program alumni are accomplishing great things. You can read more about their collective achievements in our third annual survey of alumni. Read the 2017 Alumni Survey Summary by Dr. Nidhi Mehrotra.