Intern Program Creates Pathways, Access To Tech Careers

The youngest of six siblings, Jaime Flores was the only one in his family born in the United States. And he’ll be the first to pursue a college degree.

He spent his senior year of high school interning at Best Buy as part of our partnership with Genesys Works, an organization that provides career pathways for high school students from disinvested communities.

It’s been a valuable opportunity for him to work at a Fortune 500 company, as he prepares to pursue a career in mechanical engineering.

“Most of my life I’ve felt an expectation to be really successful because I am the first person in my family to have these resources available to me,” Jaime said. “I’ve always been pressured to make the most out of it.”

Jaime’s parents came to the U.S. from El Salvador in the 1990s. His mom cleans houses and his dad works in a coffee packaging plant.

“My parents are very proud of me,” he said. “I’ve always been told by my parents that I have this opportunity that they didn’t have, that my siblings didn’t have, and they always wanted to see me succeed academically.”

Jaime is one of 11 students Best Buy has ushered through the Genesys Works internship program in the past two years. The paid internships are given to students of color who are interested in STEM.

It’s one example of our ongoing commitment to teens and technology, which has remained strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.

Not only are the students placed on a team and have day-to-day work, but they engage with every aspect of the business from professional development sessions to corporate trainings.

They’re each assigned a mentor and, in Jaime’s case, build strong relationships with their internship supervisors, too.

“I for sure saw my supervisor as another mentor,” he said. “I saw him as a model example of work professionalism. I really looked up to him in that way. The last day I saw him, we talked about staying connected and me sending him updates about college.”

Enriching lives through access

Often students from disinvested communities aren’t given access to career pathways in technology. That’s exactly what Genesys Works addresses, and it’s a perfect fit for Best Buy, whose purpose is to enrich lives through technology.

For Rosie Nestingen, a director on our tech transformation team, that mission extends beyond products to access.

As a mentor for Genesys Works interns, she saw this firsthand with a mentee.

“She always had an interest in business but didn’t think she was interested in technology until she had this internship,” Rosie said. “It was fun to see her in that discovery mode and understanding that had she not had this access to our greater team, she may not have come to her own conclusion that way.”

A lesson from engineering

Jaime gained experience in our spend efficiency and management department, researching costs associated with products and software. But the most important thing he learned in his year-long internship can’t be found on a spreadsheet.

“Something I worked on over the course of the year was my interpersonal communication skills,” Jaime said. “That’s the most important thing I can apply to other career paths.”

And that includes mechanical engineering, which he’ll begin studying at Mankato State University this fall.

“I’ve always been really drawn to engineering because it has a very heavy focus on math and science, and those are the two topics I’ve always enjoyed the most,” Jaime said.

He loves the process of identifying a problem, coming up with a solution and the continuous cycle of improvement that follows.

“I guess I enjoy it because no matter how bad your first iteration might be, there’s always room to make it better and improve on it,” he said.

And that’s something of a life lesson.