Bridging the Gap: TAMU-CC Internship Program Connects Students to Employers

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Key partnerships between Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and local industries are cultivating a vibrant South Texas workforce by connecting students and employers through internships, and ultimately, permanent employment.

TAMU-CC’s Career and Professional Development Center and Kleberg Bank, an independent community bank serving Texas, have teamed up throughout the years to help Islander students bridge the gap between classroom learning and real-world experience. The benefits are two-fold: employers gain access to a qualified talent pool, and students attain quality entry-level experiences to jumpstart their careers.

“This opens up a world of opportunities in their own backyard, and allows us to retain the best talent,” said Gabe Guerra, Kleberg Bank President, and CEO. “We must connect with the university to build our future workforce. As a community, we have to do our best to retain and grow our own local talent.”

Gabrielle Guerra ’21 (no relation to Gabe Guerra), who graduated from TAMU-CC with a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing, began her journey at Kleberg Bank as an intern. A year and a half later, Gabrielle transitioned into a full-time role as a digital marketing specialist.

“I am grateful to Kleberg Bank for making internships available to students like me,” said Gabrielle, a Corpus Christi native. “I came to work for Kleberg Bank as a college student and have now emerged as a professional working in my chosen area of study. The time I’ve spent at the bank has allowed me to grow in so many different aspects of my professional life.”

Gabrielle says the internship prepared her for her current role by pairing her with an industry mentor.

“Emily Barrera, Kleberg Bank’s Marketing and Communications Director helped me gain integral skills,” Gabrielle said. “I wasn’t initially familiar with the Adobe Creative Suite, and through the training and support, Emily provided, I am now adept in its use. Having access to a mentor with years of experience is invaluable and has contributed positively to my growth.”

Islander student Ryan Cardin ’22 gained part-time employment as a Kleberg Bank software developer after completing his year-long internship.

“As an intern, I was given a lot of responsibility, but was supported throughout,” Cardin said. “I was guided along the way and my schedule was accommodated. I never had to worry about school interfering with work or vice versa.”

Cardin, who is working toward a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a concentration in systems programming, says the transition from intern to part-time professional was seamless thanks to the guidance of Christopher Medrano, Chief Information Officer at Kleberg Bank.

“School gives you a very good idea of the basics of your job responsibilities, but an internship allows you to learn the specifics of what you’re going to be doing,” said Cardin, a Houston native. “Most of what I know now is because of my internship, but school helped me have the foundational blocks to be able to add this information. They go hand-in-hand.”

The TAMU-CC Career and Professional Development Center offers many services beyond internship placement, including résumé assistance, job search strategies, mock interviews, and workshops on financial literacy. These services help students develop the skills expected by employers, explained LaMar Black, TAMU-CC Career and Professional Development Center Associate Director. It also aids Islander alumni, up to one year post-graduation, as they explore career options.

“Today’s employers are seeking certain career competencies, even in entry-level roles, like communication, critical thinking, and leadership, and the internships and services we provide give students the opportunity to hone those abilities,” Black said.

Gabe Guerra attributes the successful partnership between the Island Gabe Guerra, Kleberg Bank President and CEO, attributes the successful partnership between the Island University and Kleberg Bank to the commitment from the leadership teams at both institutions. University and Kleberg Bank directly to the commitment from the leadership teams at both institutions. He challenges other local businesses to engage with the university’s brightest minds.

“It is truly rewarding watching these young people be inspired to do their best and be their best, and how we help build their professional confidence,” he said. “Whether the interns stay with Kleberg Bank, or move on to other jobs, I know we’ve made a difference in their lives. At the end of the day, it’s gratifying to see these young people say, ‘I love where I work and I’m just so happy I was given an opportunity.’”