UTRGV pushing internships for business students

HARLINGEN — On-the-job training can be a paying experience for business students at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley.

The Robert C. Vackar School of Business and Entrepreneurship is aggressively promoting the program to both students and potential employers in the Harlingen area.

Last month, UTRGV faculty member Maria Leonard outlined the scope of the program for the Harlingen Economic Development Corp.

“One of the things that our college has developed, which wasn’t in place when we had UTPA (University of Texas-Pan American), is the fact that we are being encouraged to collaborate with the Career Center so we could better serve our students and our employers through internships,” Leonard said.

“Before we were created, we had one career center and one internship coordinator for about 28,000 students,” she said. “It is very hard for one person to serve the needs of so many clients.”

The internship program for junior and senior business students consists of 150 hours in the fields of management, internet technology, finance, accounting and hospitality, among others.

Leonard said students receive three hours of credit for the internships after revaluation by their faculty adviser and the employer. The internships are generally paid, with students earning between $10 and $17 per hour for 20 to 25 hours per week.

“We do ask that internships are compensated,” Leonard said. “Most of our students have to work and it’s just not fair for them to ask them to continue to work at McDonald’s, too.”

Leonard said while most internships go to juniors and seniors, the college already is speaking to freshmen and sophomores about making early plans for internships as well.

She added that if a business doesn’t care to put an intern on the payroll, they can pay a stipend of approximately $1,500 at the end of the internship or half at the halfway point and the rest at the end.

“After the 150 hours are finished, you can choose to extend the internship to the student or terminate your relationship at that point,” Leonard said.

“They’re hungry, they’re bright and they’re willing to work,” she said.