Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

Official newspaper of The University of Texas at Austin

The Daily Texan

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October 4, 2022

First-years step into professionalism, give back to hometowns through UT summer internship program

Courtesy of Katelan Crowder

Students gained confidence, lost workplace fear and learned professionalism in the newly expanded Home To Texas, a University program that stretches in-state internship opportunities to first-year students’ hometowns. 

The attempt to rejuvenate communities across Texas expands through 44 cities — four times the amount offered when the program was created in 2019. This past year, Texas Career Engagement took over the program, with 67 students participating in the program during the summer, program manager Dustin Harris said. 

This growth allowed social work sophomore Brytazia Dial to work in her hometown of Lubbock. She said she completed a remote internship for The Initiative for Law, Societies, and Justice, where she developed professional and communication skills while immersing herself in the type of community work she aspires to continue after graduation. 

Dial said she used to fear some workplace practices like networking and sending emails. She said this program helped her find her voice and gave her self-confidence and trust in her work. 

“I’m optimized more into being more out there and pushing myself to break the walls, break down barriers,” Dial said. 

Many smaller communities suffer from what Harris calls “talent drain,” where few students return after finishing their education in another city. This program aims to spotlight those communities and help develop future leaders. 

“These communities were really craving young leaders,” Harris said. “(This program) allows students to immerse in their community for a summer. They contribute to their hometowns in a positive way throughout the summer, and maybe they learn enough about the community and find ways that they can use talents that they developed at UT-Austin and maybe come back and contribute some more.” 

Design sophomore Katelan Crowder interned for the Ellen Noël Art Museum in Odessa, a city she called home her whole life, yet never appreciated, she said.

“Odessa is a place where people bond because of how much they dislike it,” Crowder said. “But when you do research about the place, you kind of get a different glimpse of it inside and become more appreciative of it.”

Through her research, Crowder talked to many government and environmental organizations, but she favored interviewing local school boards or religious facilities. Crowder learned about their impact on the community, which she said restored her hope for Odessa’s future.

According to the Home to Texas website, the program involves conducting field research for a University group led by three professors. 

Paid interns earned at least $5,000 through the summer, while unpaid interns will receive a $5,000 scholarship, according to the program’s website. Applications for summer 2024 open in December, with a top priority for freshmen of any major and consideration for sophomores in case of open space. 

“We’re looking for students who are passionate, and I find that those students really want to make the most of the summer, ask lots of questions, get to know different folks in their community, go out to coffee or lunch with their colleagues and just really take in all their stories and learn about their journeys,” Harris said. “I find that those are the types of students that really seem to thrive in the program.”

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article stated applications for Home to Texas summer 2024 open in October, which was corrected to December. The Texas regrets this error.  

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