CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Summer internships are a big part of the college experience, but for many students, time spent at an internship is time they aren't spending at a paying job.
That's why Texas A & M Corpus Christi started a new program to help those students make ends meet.
“Working (at my internship) has been a great experience and I do really enjoy what we do,” said TAMUCC student Reagan Korenek.
Korenek, a soon-to-be senior, is an intern with Visit Corpus Christi, the city's convention and visitor’s bureau.
“My job is making sure that everything that's on our website is up to date and we have contacts with them that are up to date as well,” Korenek said.
For the finance and marketing major, It's great work experience. Work she'll now be paid for, despite her intern status.
“Internships are a great way, especially here in our community, to build that pipeline,” said TAMU-CC Internship Coodinator Kaelum Messer.
According to Messer, the university received a $250,000 grant from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to pay students in various internships, allowing them to focus on their internship.
“When (students) have unpaid internships it's challenging for them to be able to focus on that in addition to full-time employment or a part-time job in addition to school,” Messer said.
With the grant, TAMU-CC university is giving already paid interns a raise, as well as convertying 13 unpaid positions into paid internships with the City of Corpus Christi and Visit Corpus Christi. These interns will now be paid $20 an hour.
“It’s going to be a great relationship for both of us,” said Brett Oetting, Visit Corpus Christi CEO.
Oetting appreciates the help he gets from the university in the form of interns like Korenek, as well as the means to pay them.
“It definitely will be so much easier because I had second job,” Korenek said. “Working here has allowed me to focus on this and will help me with my career.”
“Most (interns) are requesting to be paid, they're not unpaid anymore,” added Oetting. ”We only have so much of a budget to be able to pay interns.”
University officials say if the program is successful, they will look into reapplying for the grant money again next year.