Stating “there is no greater contribution a city can make than educating our children,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings Tuesday announced a goal to recruit 150 Dallas businesses to support 400 summer internships as part of the Mayor Mike Rawlings Intern Fellows program. The eight-week internships will give Dallas public and charter high school students an opportunity to soak up real-world knowledge and eye-opening experiences at Dallas’ top corporations, large non-profits, legal and professional firms.
“Educating our young people will strengthen our neighborhoods, our families, our economy – and our future,” said Mayor Rawlings.
The Mayor’s Office founded the program in 2008 in partnership with Dallas-based nonprofit Education is Freedom and lead partner AT&T. Over the past four years, 340 students have participated. Of the interns that graduated since 2008, 82% are currently enrolled in college attending schools such as Georgetown, Northwestern University, Southern Methodist University, UT-Austin, Texas A&M and other schools.
Richard Boyd, the Vice President of Business Development & Marketing and Texas Health Partners joined the program in 2008. Their intern during the last 18 months is JaVonte Starling, a senior at Skyline in Dallas. Starling has worked for Texas Health Partners since last summer, with a long-term goal of becoming a surgeon. He was accepted to the University of Texas-Austin for fall 2012 enrollment.
Starling’s performance throughout the internship has deeply impressed staff and customers across the board at Texas Health Partners. Boyd shared, “We put him in very difficult situations,” and believe he met the challenge. Starling brings dedication to every assignment whether it is filling out paperwork or interacting with customers. Starling displays not only a high IQ, but business acumen as well, an unusual combination according to Boyd.
“We are trying to help him excel. Everyone works with him; on making sure he can greet customers professionally and having him understand what we provide to our customers,” Boyd said.
For example, Dr. Soren Singel a spine and neurosurgeon, has allowed Starling to observe during surgeries and clinic visits. This opportunity provided Starling with exposure to a variety of diagnosis and patient interaction.
Usually the internship program is reserved for summer participation only. However, the human resources department provided approval to allow Boyd to return during Spring, Thanksgiving and Christmas breaks.
When asked what advice he would offer to companies participating in the mayor’s internship program Boyd said, “Ask yourself what is that you do; and allow what you do to transcend into someone’s life. They will take what you teach them and use it for the rest of their life.”
For Boyd, being a part of the Intern Fellows program is important and it is personal.
“I grew up in a strong Catholic family and I am a product of the people who invested in me. It is important to me to reach back, letting them know, I just didn’t make it overnight. You have to set goals, you have to reach for both attainable and unattainable goals; failures are accomplishments as long as you continue to reach forward,” Boyd shared.
The deadline for companies to sign up is April 1. On April 4, human resource professionals from the participating companies will interview students at a real-life job fair to be held at the Dallas Sheraton Hotel. The eight-week internships will begin on June 6.
The program is open to students 16 and older who are sophomores or juniors at any Dallas public or charter high school who are eligible to work in the U.S. Students must have a minimum 2.5 GPA and solid attendance record and must participate in at least one full day of training prior to beginning their sessions. The comprehensive training sessions focus upon office etiquette, communication skills, professional dress, financial planning and other topics.
To learn more or register online, go to www.mayorsinterns.org or call Education is Freedom at 214-432-8552.