$250K Grant to Provide Financial Stability for Islander Student Interns, Boosts Local Economy

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – A recent grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) will help Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi reach its goal of building a best-in-class student internship program that also strengthens the education-to-career pipeline, keeping highly skilled workers employed in the greater Corpus Christi area for years to come.

The THECB Work-Based Learning Opportunity Grant – Internships, valued at nearly $250,000, will support the TAMU-CC Career and Professional Development Center (CPDC) in summer 2022 as it expands paid internship opportunities and converts unpaid internships to paid internships for dozens of Islander students. The THECB created this grant to help counteract the loss of opportunities for students seeking professional experience created by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“TAMU-CC is a Hispanic-Serving Institution with nearly half its population being first-generation students,” said Dr. Leslie Mills, CPDC Director. “Many of our students rely on part-time or full-time work to meet their financial commitments including the cost of tuition. With the help of the THECB grant, Islanders can now pursue crucial work experience and knowledge gained through internships without having to worry about the financial constraints that often accompany unpaid positions.”

 With support from the grant, TAMU-CC will:

  1. Convert 13 non-paid internships to paid work-based learning opportunities at the City of Corpus Christi (the City) and Visit Corpus Christi (formerly the Convention and Visitors Bureau);
  2. Increase the number of students participating in paid work-based learning opportunities at the City and small business in the Coastal Bend; and
  3. Increase wages for students in paid work-based learning opportunities at Visit Corpus Christi, Camp Aranzazu, the Port of Corpus Christi, and small businesses in the Coastal Bend.

Funding from this grant provides an increase in pay to $20 per hour for the programs described above.

“Community partners who already had established internship programs but were unpaid at the time were among the first chosen to participate,” Mills said. “Some of the other partners include small businesses and local employers who have developed internship programs that provide students with experiential learning opportunities and simultaneously encourage business growth and economic development for the company.”

Sydney Sanchez ’22, a TAMU-CC business management major from Grapevine, Texas, currently holds a position as a special events intern with the Corpus Christi Downtown Management District (DMD).

“A pay increase will allow me to quit my second job as a server and dedicate more time to my internship and my studies,” Sanchez said. “The DMD has welcomed me with open arms. They have been flexible with me and supportive. They let me know that I’m welcome to stay and learn and grow in a position after I graduate.”

Brian Owens ’23, a TAMU-CC management information systems major from Atlanta, GA, says the Work-Based Learning Opportunity Grant will ease some of the pressures of being a student.

“You have to pay for books, food, gas, and it all adds up,” Owens said. “The income boost will mean I can better focus on my studies and preparing myself for the job market.”

Brett Oetting, President and CEO of Visit Corpus Christi, notes that there is immense value in partnering with TAMU-CC for many reasons, including the shared goal of keeping TAMU-CC graduates in the Coastal Bend who have the potential to help this community move forward through ambitious vision, advocacy, leadership, and workforce development. The Work-Based Learning Opportunity Grant will aid in Visit Corpus Christi’s goal of expanding their internship program with more talented Islander students.

“The university does an excellent job in matching us with interns who truly live out our values and make an exceptional fit to our organization. Every intern we have had brings a new skill set and quality to the table,” Oetting said. “As an organization that looks boldly into the future, we take immense pride in investing time and resources in the students of TAMU-CC.”

Additional opportunities exist for other local businesses to take part in the internship program. Employers can reach out to the Career and Professional Development Center at 361.825.2628 or email career.center@tamucc.edu to find out if they qualify. Interested students can visit Handshake to apply or contact the Career and Professional Development Center.