After a decade of planting seeds and helping them grow, Veritex Bank’s Women in
Business Summer Internship Program Celebrates its 10th anniversary. With the thriving growth and success of the Women in Business Summer Internship Program, founder Darlene Ellison, Sr. Vice President and Community Development Executive at Veritex Bank, is thrilled to embark on the 10th year of this empowering and productive project in the Dallas community. The Women in Business Summer Internship Program is a local effort that connects college-aged women with female entrepreneurs or executives in the community who mentor and coach their respective interns to become successful, skillful and productive in the workplace. After realizing the prevalence of talented female mentors in the community via her Women in Business Networking Socials, the lack of entrepreneurial internship opportunities available to a large number of college-aged women and her own experience as a graduate of SMU Cox School of Business, Ellison created a solution to fill a void in the Dallas community. Her Program teaches interns not only about industry-specific jobs but also about relevant life skills that yield successful and happy, albeit busy professional women.
“I wanted to show young women in the community that they did not need to ‘fit in a box’ of expectations, when it comes to their summer internships or their professional choices after college” said Ellison, who makes it a priority to teach them that it is possible to balance extracurricular activities, personal wellbeing and summer obligations, while still enjoying an amazing career. The internship is not only flexible, but also paid, providing these young women the opportunity to learn valuable skills from their mentors while still earning a nice summer income. In addition to their summer placements that range from part-time to full-time, interns are also treated to a mid-summer “Lunch-N-Learn” thrown by Ellison and Veritex Bank that allows them to hear “nuggets of wisdom” from former interns, successful businesswomen and Veritex Bank’s HR Director about topics such as résumés, interviews and social media presence.
The program commenced in 2007 with just three interns, and has expanded to a robust 14 interns in just a decade due to such rave reviews from intern and mentor participants. These interns and mentors are found by word of mouth and by utilizing local media resources in the community. The young women hired in the program are entering their sophomore, junior, or senior year of colleges from across the country, yet reside in the Dallas community during the summer. The mentors are coached by Ellison to not only offer a “summer job” but, in addition, to foster a relationship with their intern that serves to teach and empower her as she contemplates her “what’s next” after college.
Several young women from the White Rock/Lakewood/East Dallas area have participated in the WIB Summer Internship Program, including Alexandra Kish, Caroline Martinez, Mary Katherine O’Rourke, Addie, Sarah & Mary Delph, Emily Vecella, Erin Florence, Katie Spurgin, Alexa Calvin and Claire Musselman, just to name a few. In fact, the Program’s first intern in 2007 was East Dallas native Evie Crabb Krimm, and this year is the first year that two former interns are now serving as Mentors in the program – Lauren Valek Farris and Kiley Trent, also both from East Dallas.
Veritex Community Bank, the presenting sponsor of the WIB Program, allows Ellison the opportunity to incorporate the work of managing this program into her daily schedule because it has become so successful and expansive. About one third of the year is spent planning and organizing the program, but when asked if she plans to continue in upcoming years, Ellison’s response is a simple, “I can’t imagine not running the program.”
Ellison’s connection with the young women over the years has evolved into meaningful relationships that have transformed and grown tremendously. She has been an asset in their lives, having written over 25 job references and has even found some of the former interns their post-graduate jobs. “The most rewarding aspect of our Women in Business Internship Program for me is to have the opportunity to meet so many driven young women with such diverse backgrounds, talents, experiences, and dreams, and then to observe firsthand the growth that they experience personally and professionally via this program. In fact, this year is our first to have a former WIB intern-turned-real-estate-entrepreneur actually serving as a mentor to one of our college students. After 10 years, probably the greatest blessing I have had from this Program is being able to stay engaged with so many of our former interns and to celebrate their successes. I have even attended a couple of weddings and held a couple of first-borns.”