WORX gives students opportunities
Drew Dundon, Ella Scarborough
Colonoscopies. Endoscopies. Patient consultations and data. Senior Neel Mallipeddi has seen it all. Through summer internships, he, along with 535 other students like him, may have seen a glimpse of their professional future, and they have the Eastin Family WORX Internship Program to thank for the experience.
The ESD WORX Internship Program started in 2014 as a way to give rising seniors an opportunity to be an intern at a company that corresponds with what they might be interested in. In 2021, Joe and Monica Eastin, parents of Kate ’24, Alex ’26 and Nick ’29, looking for ways to contribute to the school, funded this program because they thought it had a lot of potential to make a difference.
“I love seeing young people have new experiences,” Joe Eastin said. “If there’s an interest, and they can go and participate and flush it out, and see if that’s what they really want to do in life, because if we can give help give clarity early, then that that makes me very happy and what they want to do for their goals and career goals.”
Katherine Montgomery ’10, the Eastin Family WORX Internship Program coordinator, said that 90 current juniors will participate in the program this summer.
“We have a long-standing relationship with a lot of returning WORX employers who might have started as parents and are now alumni parents,” Montgomery said. “My favorite thing is that now we have former WORX interns who are employers and interviewers, and that’s really cool.”
Every student who completes the application process for a WORX internship is guaranteed placement. The application requires the submission of a one-page resume in addition to a “dream job” description. Then, each junior signs up for a 30 minute interview over Zoom, with 20 minutes of questions and 10 minutes of feedback. After a while, juniors receive an email matching them with their internships. The majority of the internships are unpaid and focus on the experience rather than the income.
“I’m really excited when I hear about a student’s experience,” Montgomery said. “[The internship could] change, maybe what they ended up majoring in, or they [can] write their essay about it, or they can get a rec letter from their employer, [stories] like that brings me so much joy.”
Dr. Megan Wood, an orthopedic hand surgeon at the Texas Hand and Arm Center, has been a WORX Partner with ESD for 10 years. Each year, she has two or three interns from the program.
“I usually host one at a time, and they just spend a whole week with me following me in the clinic, which is usually about two and a half days of clinic a week,” Wood said. “Then two days of just observing surgeries that need to go into the [operating room] and put scrubs on and all that.”
Wood believes that a successful intern is somebody who communicates, shows up on time and has a good attitude.
“You’re not really expected to know much,” Wood said. “Just have a pretty good attitude, be enjoyable and be open.”
Senior Blake Scheinberg interned for Wood last summer, shadowed her while diagnosing patients and watched her do several surgeries.
“This prepared me for the future because I plan to be a surgeon in private practice,” Scheinberg said. “Shadowing Dr. Wood allowed me to get a glimpse of what it is really like.”
The WORX program tries to recruit all types of businesses or organizations to try to match students with something they might already have a passion for. Junior Charlotte Tomlin, who is interested in sports journalism and broadcasting, will intern with the Dallas Mavericks this summer.
“The sports management experience interning with the Mavericks is perfect for me,” Tomlin said. “I am thrilled that the WORX program paired me with the Mavericks, and I absolutely cannot wait to start.”
Junior Wheeler Wood’s upcoming internship this summer will also help him with his summer job. In addition to his WORX internship, he will also serve at his dad’s restaurant, Jose, in Bluffview.
“I’m doing an internship at Nick and Sam’s for about a week for my WORX program,” Wood said. “I want to learn more about the hospitality industry and figure out if that’s an industry I want to pursue.”
Some internships are more than a summer job and can encourage students to think deeper and be creative and innovative. For Mallipeddi, who interned with Dr. Michael Weisberg through the Digestive Health Associates of Texas last summer, that was the case.
“I was inspired to start a personal project of my own that aims to use machine learning to diagnose polyps in the colon,” Mallipeddi said. “The project has been really fun to work on so far and increased my interest in using technology in medicine.”
The WORX program is an opportunity for students to pursue their interests but, just as importantly, discover that they might not want to pursue that particular career after interning.
“I’ve had, in 10 years, a bunch of [student interns], and I actually have a few students that made their way to med school and are doing great,” Wood said. “And then, I’ve had a lot of people who’ve spent their week with me and said, ‘That’s great. I don’t ever want to do this again. Thank you so much for saving the years of my life.’”
But it’s not all about internships
Freshmen Erin Muriungi, Eva Krieser and Mariam Mekbeb-Gillett are going to Costa Rica in July with Students Shoulder to Shoulder for a service trip.
According to the Shoulder to Shoulder website, “SStS is an organization of four partner groups: schools, nonprofits, businesses and philanthropists that create a range of programming for all members. Their mission is to inspire and support ethical leadership.”
Krieser and her friends will work with wildlife and the environment.
“When we are there, we are going to be working with turtles and doing a bunch of conservation stuff on the beach and doing turtle treks,” Krieser said. “We are also going to do rainforest station stuff.”
Freshman Arya Ajith is also traveling with SStS for about three weeks to work in Kenya. The program she will be involved with focuses on community empowerment and children’s education. She is also interning with the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, an organization that helps to improve the lives of children across the globe.
“I’ve always been involved in community service,” Ajith said. “I like focusing on children’s education, which is being carried over from shoulder to shoulder to [my internship with] UNICEF.”
ESD students have been involved with Students Shoulder to Shoulder in the past. Junior Caroline Bagley went to Bocas del Toro, Panama last summer. The program she chose explored coral reefs, mangroves and rainforests and also supported students’ after-school centers.
“I enjoyed being able to see a new perspective of how other people live in different countries, most of the kids there don’t really have a lot,” Bagley said. “They live in extreme poverty and don’t have access to a lot of clothes or running water and electricity, and just being a part of helping them out was really impactful.”