Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program
Celebrates Largest Class

Since 2008, the program has grown to include 385 Dallas public school high students and 240 Dallas-area businesses and nonprofits



Lorena Watson landed her dream job as a family therapist after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. A pivotal point in her educational journey, however, came years earlier as a Dallas high schooler in the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program.

“There are some things college doesn’t teach you,” Watson said. “It doesn’t teach you how to work.”

The Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program introduces Dallas public high school students to future careers while giving local companies and nonprofits an opportunity to invest in the youth of Dallas.

“There are some things college doesn’t teach you. It doesn’t teach you how to work.” 
Lorena Watson

As a 2008 and 2009 alumna of the program and a former intern with Brinker International, Watson shared advice at the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program luncheon on Monday. She told current interns to embrace the opportunity to learn their respective industries, network, and continue to develop their work ethic once the summer ends.

Watson also shared her personal story of dealing with homelessness in high school, which she has spoken previously about at her own graduation commencement and in a TED Talk. She said her mentors from the intern program helped shape her into the person she is today. 

Watson spoke to more than 1,000 students and employers gathered Monday at the Hyatt Regency Dallas hotel to celebrate the largest participation in the history of the program. 

Modeled after the White House Fellows program, the Mayor’s Intern Fellows Program began in 2008 with 84 interns and 46 companies participating. 

The program has grown to include 385 Dallas public high students and 240 Dallas-area businesses and nonprofits, including AT&T, Dallas Area Rapid Transit, and Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Dallas. This summer, many interns received their first-ever paychecks with combined salaries exceeding $734,000.


Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. [ Photo: James Edward ]

Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings. [ Photo: James Edward ]

Students began working in June, but the competitive application process began back in October. To be considered for the program, students must be a rising junior or senior at a Dallas public high school, have at least a 3.0 GPA, strong attendance record, and be recommended by their high school principal or counselor.

Selected students participated in a job fair in April, where applicants interviewed with prospective employers and received offers shortly afterward. 

City of Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said only one out of every three applicants earned the coveted intern positions. 

One of the chosen students was Edith Lopez, who worked with Hyatt Regency Dallas this summer.

“I spent each day in different departments and learned about all aspects of how a hotel works,” Lopez said. “I’m exhausted, but I loved it.”

Lopez introduced alum JaVonte M. Starling, who said he knew he wanted to be a doctor when he interned with Texas Health Resources in 2011 and 2012. He shared about his experiences as a 16-year-old observing medical procedures and forming relationships with his supervisors.

“Work harder than the next guy, do the right thing, and everything will take care of itself.”

Mike Rawlings

“I remember the head of the orthopedics department taking me out to dinner, just to learn more about me,” Starling said.

Starling is about to enter his senior year at the University of Texas at Austin, and will be applying for medical schools in the fall.

Rawlings said the program provides self-awareness for students, adding that young people can benefit from learning more about themselves. He concluded his talk with advice he gives to his own children.

“Work harder than the next guy, do the right thing, and everything will take care of itself,” Rawlings said. 

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