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State Agencies Try To Push More Companies To Offer Paid Internships For Texas Students

The Texas Education Agency, the state’s Workforce Commission and the Higher Education Coordinating Board launched what they call an internship challenge in 2017.

Sharpstown High School 2014 graduate Jairo Luna prepared laptops at a NetSync warehouse for distribution to classrooms as part of an internship in 2014.

College students in Texas — and even some high school students — could soon get a boost in their future careers, as several state agencies try to get more companies to offer paid internships.

For many college students, work study programs involve working a menial job on campus, such as working in the cafeteria or stacking books. But the state is trying to make sure those jobs — often offered to college students as a form of financial aid — actually help young people get real world experience for their career goals.

Our ultimate goal would be not only that students get paid for internships, but they get explicit training for specific jobs at specific companies,” said Raymund Paredes, the state’s higher ed commissioner.

The Texas Education Agency, the state’s Workforce Commission and the Higher Education Coordinating Board launched what they call an internship challenge in 2017. Since then, it’s posted tens of thousands of paid internships for Texas students. The three agencies are renewing the push in Austin on Monday.

Paredes said that one of the program’s major goals is to move away from unpaid internships.

“Because unpaid internships are discriminatory against poor students. Poor students can’t afford to work for free,” Paredes said. “If they have to look for jobs that pay rather than voluntary, they miss out on all kinds of opportunities to improve their work skills, to network.”

While the Texas Internship Challenge doesn’t receive any direct state funding, the cost of the paid internships is shared by employers and by universities, which receive state and federal work study money.

In addition, the state’s higher ed coordinating board will soon have about $1 million in funding to connect more Texas students with paid internships through a related program.

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Laura Isensee

Education Reporter

Laura Isensee covers education for Houston Public Media, including K-12 and higher education. Previously, she was a staff reporter at The Miami Herald and contributed to South Florida’s NPR affiliate. Her work has also appeared in The Dallas Morning News, Reuters and Clarín in Argentina. Laura has won awards for...

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