GE Appliances launches co-op program with Louisville HBCU

Feb 24th 2022

GEA Logo on blue background

In business, a challenge often presents an opportunity. That’s exactly what happened in our Parts Microenterprise.

When faced with a need to create an employment pipeline for entry-level positions - and Louisville being at the epicenter of the social justice movement - Parts Microenterprise leader Alejandro Vela saw an opportunity: increase diverse talent at GE Appliances (GEA) and help reach our goal of having a workforce of 40% people of color and 40% women by 2025.

“We had a chance to not just create a short-term internship in Parts, but with some intentionality, I knew we could create an opportunity that could open up a whole new pipeline of diverse talent for our business,” Vela said.

Vela reached out to the Citizenship team to see if the business could connect with Simmons College of Kentucky, a historically black college and university (HBCU) in Louisville.

The conversations ultimately led to a partnership that created a new four-year co-op program in the Parts organization. 

Evan Young, a freshman at Simmons majoring in Business Entrepreneurship, applied for the position at the behest of Simmons administrators and was selected as the college’s first co-op at GE Appliances.

Evan Young poses for a photo at a Simmons College breakfast

Young started at GEA on January 28, and his first-day story mimics most of our first visits to Appliance Park.

“I got lost!” Young said. “I had no idea how big this place was! But my first impression was everyone was so nice, and Alejandro and his team have given me so much insight into the company. I love what I am doing. I love the process and the behind-the-scenes work of the business that not a lot of people understand or get to see. I want to learn everything it takes, so one day when I run my own business or am a leader here at GEA in 20 or 30 years, I remember it all and let young people know it takes hard work and patience to succeed. You’re not going to know everything right off the bat.”

In addition to working at GEA and going to school full-time, Young is also in the concert and marching bands, a member of student government, a student ambassador and is joining the debate team.

Young poses for a photo with GEA HR VP Rocki Rockingham, Simmons President Kevin Cosby and Barbara Sexton Smith

When asked if it’s tough for the Gainesville, Fl. native to balance everything, Young said, “Even in high school, I was very involved at school and I worked after school, so I am used to making it all work. I never would have thought this would be an opportunity for me. Being from Florida, I didn’t even know GE Appliances was here in Louisville until I heard about it from my professor. To be a part of a company like this is incredible.”

Young says he feels honored to be the first Simmons co-op at GEA, but he knows he won’t be the last.

“I know I am going to have a big impact by people here at GEA seeing how hard I work, and that will open new opportunities for future Simmons’ students. Going forward, I am hoping we get more Simmons students here. We’re just 10 or 15 minutes away from GE Appliances, so something we can all look forward to is not just having me here, but I hope eventually there are lots of Simmons students here at GEA.”

Vela said he hopes that’s the case as well and is excited that his challenge created an opportunity for our business, Evan Young, and future Simmons students.

“When we talk about the GEA Way, this new partnership really captures the spirit of what we’re talking about - finding a better way, creating possibilities and coming together to make good things, for life,” Vela said.

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