NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – For nearly 25 years, Kevin Davis was a successful businessman on Wall Street and in London.

Year after year, the companies he worked for hired energetic interns and doled out jobs to enthusiastic young people. However, over time, he realized the opportunities were only reaching a specific demographic.

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“One of the things I realized was that everyone around me looked the same,” Davis told CBSN New York on Monday. “The main reason for that was that most of the people we hired started as interns, and most of the interns we hired came from customers’ kids, colleagues’ kids, counterparts’ kids.”

To help diversify the hiring pool, he founded a nonprofit called “First Workings,” aimed at helping high school students from under-served communities get the professional opportunities they need to succeed in the workforce and later in life.

Davis says the group allows young people to start building “social capital” to move up the professional ladder. He says it’s an intangible asset that lets people leverage their relationships to get jobs and more.

“One of the things it does is gives students the opportunity to get recommendations from these companies and to make enduring relationships,” he said.

First Workings partners with globally recognized brands like Morgan Stanley and Mount Sinai.

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Steffy Gonzalez, a high school junior who recently finished an internship with the group, says it gave her a sense of what it could be like to pursue a career in medicine.

“I shadowed the head neurosurgeon of Lenox Hill Hospital,” she told CBSN New York. “I was able to see brain surgeries. It was something that I never thought I’d be able to see at 17.”

Now, Gonzalez is sure that she wants to pursue a surgical career after high school and college.

Davis said the organization has seen great success working with high school students, and he hopes experiences like Gonzalez’s will help make the transition from student to young profession less intimidating.

“Ninety percent of the companies we work with ask for students to come back,” he said. “First Work is an attempt to bridge between companies looking for diversity and students looking for opportunity.”

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