Internship programs align students with career paths

By partnering with some of the largest companies in the Houston area, as well as the nation, the Education for Tomorrow Alliance has been helping local students become more career-driven and education-oriented for the past 23 years.

EfTA President Monica Bomkampt Enia said the organization's goal is to connect, mentor and engage students in a career field early in their lives that they will hopefully return to later in life.

"It's all about making sure education is the No. 1 priority and helping students understand that they will go much further in life with a good education and in a field where they feel fulfilled," Enia said.

Known locally for its years-long sponsorship and improvement of SCI://TECH, Conroe ISD's science fair and now one of the largest science and technology fairs in the nation, EfTA has many programs that aim to connect local students with science and technology industry-related companies.

EfTA's popular Student Internship Program is designed to provide high school students real world experience in an expressed field or area of interest. During the summer before their senior year, students work 80-hour internships, some of which are paid, alongside professionals at local businesses to get a feel for the career and to better understand its working environment.

Toluwani Soares, Conroe ISD Academy of Science and Technology senior and SCI://TECH enthusiast, used EfTA's internship program to work at the Huntsman Company over the summer. She said the experience only confirmed a future for her in the science industry.

"Interning at Huntsman has certainly given me a taste for what it is like to work in a lab, conducting and designing your own experiments from 8 to 5, and I have come to love it," Soares said. "The company actually offered me a summer job, which I am excited to return to next summer."

Soares said she was pleased to be given her first choice of internship in her chosen industry, as well as in her specific interest area of surfactant research and experimentation. She said she was selected among a large pool of qualified students.

EfTA students also interned at companies such as PBK Architects, United Way, St. Luke's The Woodlands Hospital, Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Hospital, the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion and Entergy.

"So many of these kids are smart and just hungry for information," Enia said. "The level of work entrusted to them, too, is amazing. They have a huge responsibility; it's big work."

Enia said she is excited for fall to begin so that EfTA's improved Future Focus program can get underway.

Designed to inform students how important decisions they make now will affect them in the future, the program involves various community volunteers speaking to 130 Conroe ISD eighth grade classrooms throughout the fall months.

"It's all about decision making, how valuable and important it is and how something small or big can really impact you 10 years from now," Enia said.

To Enia and the organization's only other paid employee, Program Director Elaine Christian, volunteers can make or break a nonprofit like EfTA.

"It's all about volunteers for us," Enia said, "We're always trying to get more community volunteers involved. The moments and experiences they share with our students really help shape their paths."

Education For Tomorrow Alliance, 3200 College Park Drive, Ste. E205, The Woodlands, 936-273-7087,