The official student-run news publication of Edina High School.

Edina Zephyrus

The official student-run news publication of Edina High School.

Edina Zephyrus

The official student-run news publication of Edina High School.

Edina Zephyrus

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Bright futures on the horizon: A look into PLTW and Genesys Works

Their are new internships, scholarships, and hands-on opportunities EHS students “cannot miss”
Lauren Chang
They have applied for additional grants and starting new Genesys Works program. What do they want the program to look like in the future? What changes have been made?

While Project Lead the Way (PLTW) has existed at Edina High School for years, recent partnerships with the Genesys Works program and additional grants are about to take the program to the next level. With dozens of exciting internships and opportunities, students can apply their learning in the classroom to hands-on jobs across the Metro. 

Founded in 2002, Genesys Works has provided exceptional opportunities to thousands of students. “The main purpose of it is to connect students with internships in technology and business. It also focuses on underserved people in terms of gender, skin color, or income,” PLTW teacher Shannon Seaver said. In addition, many of these internships are through major companies, allowing students to experience the nuts and bolts behind well-known businesses. “There’s like 50 different companies, including Medtronic, Target, and so many more, I can’t name them all!” Seaver said.

Internship opportunities have allowed many EHS students to start on a path to a professional career in engineering or computer science. Senior Zeinab Eleie was connected with an internship at Best Buy through Genesys Works and has completed many coding tasks for the company. “It opens doors for you if you want to major in computer science,” Eleie said while reflecting on her internship experience. Many other EHS students have been connected with similar internships. “We have one student who got connected with Medtronic,” Seaver mentioned. “He’s already really good at computer science, so it’ll be exciting to see what happens and how they utilize him.” 

Recently, senior Kathryn Hagen also began interning at Target through Genesys Works and was especially grateful for the opportunity to use her JavaScript programming skills to help such a major company. “It’s really fulfilling to be able to utilize my passion to help a big project,” she said.

Since there are no prerequisites for Genesys Works internships, the program can appeal to every EHS student. “We’ve had other students that don’t have as much experience, but they still are getting to do some things like working in computer repair,” Seaver said. She noted that this is possible because students are encouraged to continue learning as they work. “They slowly work them in and teach them what they need to know,” she said. Eleie concurred, mentioning that her coding and communication skills have improved significantly in the short time she has been interning at Best Buy. “I’ve only been working for three weeks at Best Buy but I think just within those three weeks, I can already see myself growing,” she said. Hagen also mentioned that hands-on internship opportunities have allowed her to pick up life skills that go beyond a basic computer science course. “It’s like a different type of learning, you learn soft skills that you don’t necessarily learn in the classroom,” she said.

Genesys Works internships have helped many students with their post-secondary pathways as well. “We have an exciting partnership with Target this year, which is brand new,” Seaver said. “They hired two of our students who are already in the software programming and development area of their company, and if they do well this year, they will have the opportunity to do more of an apprenticeship type of program where they’ll hire them full time without going to college.” Hagen, after being connected with one of these Target internships, has been able to experience a career in computer science first-hand. “It’s given me the opportunity to explore a career and field that I’ve always taken interest in but have never gained actual experience in,” she said. 

Likewise, by providing financial aid, scholarships, and hands-on experience, PLTW has set up many other EHS students for future successful careers. “They’ll give them the training that they need. They’ll be able to go to college without being in debt,” Seaver said.

According to Seaver, past employers have been reluctant to intern high schoolers. However, PLTW program leaders, including Seaver, have encouraged company leaders to keep an open mind. “I really want them to see how it can be easier than they think it is to hire a high school student as an intern. A lot of them don’t realize that they can really make a difference for high schoolers,” she said.

Though PLTW and Genesys Works have helped students succeed individually, Minnesota still ranks last in the US in computer science education. However, with all of the unique opportunities provided to EHS students through PLTW and Genesys Works, Seaver hopes to encourage more students to become involved in engineering and computer science. “We have a huge need in Minnesota to place students into technology; we have all these openings and not enough people to fill them,” she said. Seaver hopes that more students at EHS will take a PLTW course and take advantage of these opportunities; her goal is to double the number of students involved in the program this year. “I think part of the problem is not enough students know about it, so my whole mantra this year has been ‘Be like the Barbie movie marketing,’” she said. 

Haegen also hopes that more students will join her in the Genesys Works program. “I definitely think more people should join because it is a really unique experience that only a few students in high school have the opportunity to do,” she said. Eleie agreed with Hagen, “I would advise the younger high school students to look into Genesis works and apply, it’s an opportunity that you cannot miss,” she said.

Looking forward, Seaver would like to see PLTW and Genesys Works expand these internship opportunities into fields beyond technology. Some of these fields include business and nursing. “We’re going to be building this up over time,” she said. 

Recently, PLTW also applied for multiple grants to aid students and won an internship planning grant called the Youth Skills Training Grant. PLTW now works with other student elective courses as well, including DECA, where students can use their innovative skills in activities similar to Shark Tank. Seaver is optimistic about the future of PLTW and engineering students, as they now have multiple ways to apply their learning both in and outside of school. Seaver hopes students will use these applications to innovate and eventually make the world a better place, as “engineering is problem-solving,” she said. 

This piece was originally published in Zephyrus’ print edition on October 12, 2023. 


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About the Contributors
Olivia Brinkman
Olivia Brinkman, Staff Writer
Olivia Brinkman is a junior on the writing staff who is thrilled to be returning for her second year of Zephyrus! When she's not in school, you can likely find her running around Edina (and definitely looking for cars) with the Cross Country and Track Runners! Running is one of her favorite things, and even when it gets too cold to run outside, Olivia keeps herself busy with indoor track and Nordic skiing! She also has a passion for cooking, and if you know her well, you probably have seen her making her weekly batch of granola or loaf banana bread. You may also find her lifeguarding at your local pool, leading Women in STEM club meetings, or volunteering with Her Next Play, Aquajets Swim Team, and Fairview Southdale Hospital. Though she keeps herself especially busy, Olivia always appreciates moments when she can read a thriller under a cozy blanket, spend time with her family and friends, or lay on the beach in the sun (and get severely burnt because she always forgets to wear sunscreen). Olivia knows Junior year will be busy; however, as long as she has her daily oatmeal and good people to support her, she can take on the world!
Lauren Chang
Lauren Chang, Section Editor
Lauren Chang (she/her) is a senior and looking forward to her second year on staff as a writer and the Features Section Editor! Outside of school, Lauren enjoys working out and trying every sport imaginable (even wrestling at one point! But we don't really talk about that). If she is not at the gym, you can probably find her rewatching a Marvel movie for the 30th time, getting food with friends, or listening to music on Spotify (she loves staying up until 11 when new albums drop so she can listen to the entire thing in one sitting). If you want to be her favorite person in the world, take her to a concert :)

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