This year, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings hopes 400 Dallas high school students find professional summer jobs through the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program.
Through the program, between June 13 and Aug. 5, students from Dallas high schools and charter schools will work paid internships with some of the city's most recognizable businesses. Companies participating in the program have included AT&T, Texas Instruments and Tenet Healthcare.
To participate, students must be at least 16 years old and have a minimum grade point average of 3.0. They are required to submit a letter of recommendation from a member of their campus' leadership team.
Students who meet the requirements attend a job fair that will be held this year on April 8 at the Dallas Hyatt Regency. During the event, more than 1,000 students will have the opportunity to engage in 5- to 10-minute interviews with more than 200 companies. All students typically interview with two to three companies.
Last year, 1,790 students applied for the intern program and 1,075 qualified for the job fair. Around 350 were employed by 218 companies and nonprofits.
"It teaches self-discipline," Rawlings said of the program. “These kids have to be at work at 8:30 in the morning – many have to take buses for an hour to get there. They have to look good, they have to act well. They would not have learned that if it wasn’t for this (program). "
The program was founded in 2008 to introduce high school students to careers paths and opportunities. Participants work 20 to 40 hours per week for eight weeks and earn a minimum rate of $9 per hour. In 2015, participants earned more than $700,000 in wages.
Though Rawlings declined to give further details, he said the intern program is applying for government grants in an effort to expand to include more participants.
As the program grows, Rawlings hopes to add not just more large corporations, but small companies to the businesses hosting interns.
"We've got a lot of big business that give these kids jobs," Rawlings added. "I'd love mom-and-pop companies to teach our interns those businesses as well."