Home to Texas allows first-year students to gain career experience in their hometowns

Lauren Nelson , News Reporter

Editor’s Note: This article first appeared as part of the August 2 flipbook.

Home to Texas, an internship program designed to help first-year students gain career experience in their Texas hometowns, finished their third year of programming Saturday with a record number of participants.

Home to Texas has connected 94 students to internships in 17 different communities across Texas in the past three years, said Dustin Harris, the Home to Texas program manager. This summer, 46 students participated across 12 different communities.

“I don’t know anything quite like this that offers students a paid internship in their home community, allows them to do research in their home community and teaches them research skills,” Harris said.

Home to Texas is run by the IC2 Institute, the UT School of Undergraduate Studies and Texas Career Engagement, according to the Home to Texas website. The program hopes to help promote workforce growth in remote areas and prevent students from becoming disengaged with their hometowns after leaving for college, with the tagline “Changing the world starts at home.”

“A big part of the program is for students to really get to know their communities in a different way through interning,” Harris said.

Students are given $5,000 for participating in the program, Harris said.

“We don’t want the students to choose between a quality development experience and a paycheck,” Harris said.

Participants must work 40 hours a week and complete an online course which includes interviewing members of their communities, distributing surveys and preparing reports on the challenges and opportunities they discover, Harris said.

Advertising sophomore Kristin Biggs is interning at Prytime Medical Devices in Boerne, Texas. Biggs said that the importance of learning to interview someone and making connections with “influential business leaders” left a lasting impact on her.

The program demonstrates the University’s growing commitment to engage with the entire state of Texas and strives to solidify its relationship with alumni and regional and state leaders, according to their website.

Kassandra Portillo, a biology sophomore interning at Langley Inverness Law Firm in Eagle Pass, Texas, said the program helped her gain confidence in her ability to talk on the phone and to professionals.

“I always looked back at my hometown as a place I didn’t want to come back to,“ said Portillo. “(Home to Texas) really did encourage me to come back to my community and try to help it prosper in the future.”