Internship helps BHS senior experience the corporate workplace
Kaitlyn Palacios, a full-time PSEO (post-secondary enrollment option) student at Burnsville High School (BHS), was selected to participate in an internship program through Genesys Works, a not-for-profit organization that helps high school students “break through barriers and discover through meaningful work experiences that they can succeed as professionals in the corporate world.”
In a typical year, a handful of students would be participating in this program. However, due to the barriers caused by the pandemic, Kaitlyn is the only student from BHS participating this year.
"I learned that I enjoy working with computers a lot more than I anticipated. I also realized that it’s something I might want to pursue in college, something that I hadn’t thought of before."
- Kaitlyn Palacios
Participants attend an eight-week training class during the summer focused on learning technical skills in information technology and business operations. They also participate in college and career coaching and training on professional skills required to succeed in today’s corporate workplace.
As seniors, the interns spend half of each day at internships with local corporations and earn up to $15,000. They gain an insider view of the workplace and acquire real-world skills they can use the rest of their lives.
Kaitlyn splits her time going to school and interning as an Information Systems Analyst at The Toro Company, located in Bloomington. Some of her key responsibilities include setting up offices with computer equipment, imaging computers, pushing out software, managing recycling of computer equipment for various locations and helping employees access their equipment.
We had a chance to catch up with Kaitlyn to ask her about her experience this year.
What are some of the new skills you have learned through this experience?
I didn’t know much about working with computers until this experience. I’ve learned a lot about how to troubleshoot when a problem occurs, imaging (a process I had no idea existed), and more.
What have you enjoyed about the internship?
I love that it really pushes you to take charge of what you are doing. It’s not like other jobs I have had before as a teen. You learn a lot, and your supervisor teaches you many things and lets you handle more than I thought I would handle. For example, my supervisor works from home, so interns work independently and ask for guidance when necessary. My supervisor also gives us projects to work on that are different from our normal work.
How has COVID affected this experience?
We interact with less people. The last interns told us they used to get stopped a lot for computer help, but so far very few have really done that due to everyone largely working from home. Emailing has become more important for setting up times and communicating with other employees.
Have you learned anything about yourself during this experience?
I learned that I enjoy working with computers a lot more than I anticipated. I also realized that it’s something I might want to pursue in college, something that I hadn’t thought of before. It certainly has taught me critical lessons about working in a professional environment.
How has this internship helped prepare you for life after high school?
Genesys Works gave me a custom plan and has a program coordinator to help guide me. We have monthly meetings to make sure that I’m on track with my goals and also setting new ones. They provide many resources to explore my options after high school. I honestly was overwhelmed with how much I needed to do to prepare for college, such as ACT, scholarships, applying to schools, FAFSA, and more. My program coordinator helped me navigate that and break down this process so I wasn’t overwhelmed.
What are your post-high school plans?
I plan to go to a college in California. Currently, I’m waiting for acceptance letters and have already received one! I’m very excited.
What would you tell other students who are interested in the program but aren’t sure whether to participate?
I would say to take this leap. I wasn’t sure about this program either. I signed up spontaneously, not knowing if it was the best program for me. They were very straight forward about the process and were clear that I could talk to them any time if I thought it was best to drop the program. I was so glad I took that chance, although I had no idea what it would look like for my senior year. I ended up really loving this program!
What field do you think you might pursue in the future?
Right now, I’m interested in psychology and biomedical engineering. These are the two subjects I’m interested in double-majoring in college in the fall.
“These experiences are typical of BHS students who have participated in the Genesys Works internships during recent years,” according to Marcia Sexton, College and Career Specialist at Burnsville High School. “They’ve gained confidence, and acquired skills and experiences to add to their resumes and college applications.”
“Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 is forging many partnerships with local businesses to create pathway experiences for students through paid and unpaid internships,” said Dr. Kathy Funston, the district’s Director of Strategic Partnerships and Pathways. “Students can gain valuable experiences while they are in high school which will help them plan their future careers and be more college and career ready.”