Banco Santander, armed with the support from the government and members of the academic community, announced Tuesday the launching of the second edition of its U-Work internship program, which this year will benefit 354 college juniors and seniors with real-world work experience.
This year, Santander and its partners will spend $900,000 to cover the $2,500- stipend each student will receive at the end of their five-month internship, as well as operating costs, said Rafael Vélez-Palmer, director of Santander Universidades, the bank’s division in charge of the program.
To participate in the program that begins Jan. 15, 2014, interested students have until Oct. 30 to apply, while interested companies have until Oct. 15 to sign up through the www.becas-santander.com website, he said.
“This is a great opportunity for small and mid-sized businesses, as well as large companies with operations in Puerto Rico to support young college talent,” Vélez-Palmer said. “By participating, they will have free access to the island’s best talent who can support them in their projects and operations, while they give the college students the chance to have their first professional experience.”
“Participating students could become part of their workforce if the company decides to retain their talent by hiring them. It would help improve corporate competitiveness and develop a base of young professional talent for future job opportunities,” he said.
The first edition drew interest from 800 students from 10 universities, who signed up for a chance to work at 121 participating companies. The program benefited 260 students, of which 22 were either hired or were able to get a job through the program, he said.
“This year, we’re hoping to have at least 200 participating companies, from any industry,” he said. To qualify, companies must have been in business for a minimum of three years, have a minimum of five employees and have a permanent location.From left: José Jaime Rivera, Sacred Heart University president and Pontifical Catholic University President Jorge Vélez-Arocho. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)
This year’s roster of universities is up to 12, including the University of Puerto Rico, the Inter American University, Sacred Heart University, Polytechnic University, Universidad del Este, Universidad Metropolitana, Carlos Albizu University, Universidad Central de Bayamón, Pontifical Catholic University, Atlantic University, Caribbean University, Dewey University, the Conservatory of Music and the San Juan Bautista School of Medicine. Each institution is responsible for selecting the students who will participate in the internship.
“This type of partnership strengthens the structures our universities have to shape professionals as students. This project allows putting a student with a specialty within reach of companies, which I believe is a fundamental step if we want to foster Puerto Rico’s economic growth,” said José Jaime Rivera, Sacred Heart University president. “It also gives students the chance to validate their chosen vocation.”
Meanwhile, his counterpart at the Pontifical Catholic University, Jorge Vélez-Arocho, said providing students with the chance to intern cuts the time between graduation and getting a job “thanks to the experience they gain.”
On the government side, several agencies — the Office of Youth Affairs, Puerto Rico Trade and Export and the Economic Development Bank — will also be involved in the initiative.
“We believe this collaborative agreement with Banco Santander is an opportunity that joins several public and private entities to offer job opportunities to Puerto Rican youth, but most importantly, through this effort we can eventually prevent the brain drain by providing these youth their first work experience, while developing a young talent base for future job opportunities,” said Puerto Rico Trade Executive Director Francisco Chévere.