May 20 2024

Step Up's 2024 Outstanding Alum Ali Osman says Step Up was key to career success

Step Up alum Ali Osman standing outside in park

Ali Osman loves a challenge. At the young age of 18, a Step Up summer internship brought him to Boston Scientific, where he played a major role as a lead sustaining engineer intern. By the time his summer had ended, he had authored two biocompatibility tests that helped improve the health of patients around the world.

This year Ali was recognized for his professional accomplishments as the Step Up Outstanding Alum of 2024. Grateful to be honored, Ali credits much of his success to Step Up and the early career guidance and support he received at the Washburn High School Achieve Career & College Center (CCC).

“My father died when I was seven, so my family was moving back and forth between Egypt and Minnesota,” says Ali. “I was playing professional soccer overseas when the Egyptian Revolution happened, putting an end to soccer. I then moved back to Minnesota to live with my two older brothers and started my junior year at Washburn, where I played four sports.”

After arriving at Washburn, Ali connected with our Achieve CCC coordinator Kevin Salkas, who worked one-on-one with Ali to guide him in exploring career options, applying to colleges and making a plan for life after high school. “Kevin became the guide to my future,” Ali says. “He’s also the person who told me about Step Up, and how the program could help me get hands-on experience in exploring careers I was really interested in.”

Ali took Kevin’s advice, and his first Step Up internship was at Rêve Academy, which he says prepared him for life, careers and leadership in technology. “Thanks to Step Up, as a high school student I was part of a 3D pilot program, working with 3D printers before they became big,” he says. “We documented the process of our designs and our strategies. At this point, I was thinking about bio-medical engineering, and Step Up put me in a place where I could be in touch with the design aspect of engineering. We were some of the first interns at Rêve Academy, and they really let us explore and learn.”

Ali then went on to his second Step Up internship at Boston Scientific, where he gained additional engineering exposure. “I was one of the youngest interns at Boston Scientific,” he says. “Here I was at one of the largest biomedical companies in the world, working with lead sustaining engineers. So I had these two incredible experience under my belt before going to college.”

After graduating from Washburn in 2015, earned his bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Metropolitan State University. During college, his Step Up experience opened the door to a job at Wells Fargo, where he gained new experience in the financial sector. “I know the bank wouldn’t have hired me without the resume I’d developed in high school. My Step Up experience really helped me stand out.”

Ali’s first job out of college was at the Minneapolis-based tech start-up Sezzle. He wore many hats at Sezzle, but focused mainly on building synergy between banking, tech and marketing companies to build revenue and growth. “I was also co-lead of the diversity, equity and inclusion group at Sezzle, with a commitment to volunteerism and sponsorship of students coming into the Sezzle internship program.”

Ali then utilized his experience for a new position at the Nucleas Fund, a start-up investment firm where he formed strategic partnerships as a founding strategy manager. He’s now a brand manager for an interior design product company based in North Africa, where he’s utilizing his expertise in forming partnerships, improving operations and reducing costs to help the company expand across the region.  

Ali says he still draws on lessons he learned through Step Up, particularly vital skills in leadership, professionalism and communications. “People can’t believe I had Fortune 500 internships in high school, and they assume I’m older than I am because I know how to talk to people!”

As Step Up’s 2024 Outstanding Alum, Ali is a strong champion for the program and encourages young people to take advantage of all Step Up has to offer. “Without Step Up, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he says. “Ask yourself what you are passionate about and connect with your school’s career and college center,” he says. “Learn about all the great opportunities that are open to you and find out how you can start and advance your career through a Step Up internship – while getting paid for it! Take advantage of all these great free programs. Move mountains, build your confidence and go out and be the best you can be!”