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Santander launches U-Work internship program

Banco Santander Puerto Rico President Román Blanco-Reinosa, (at podium) offers details of the internship program. Behind him are, from left: Rafael Vélez-Palmer, director of Santander Universities, Puerto Rico Manufacturers Association Waleska Rivera, EDB President Ivonne Otero and Economic Development Secretary José Pérez-Riera.

Building up a resume with meaningful work experience before graduating college is considered a good move, especially when looking to find a job after the cap and gown come off.

As part of its pursuit of creating such professional opportunities, Banco Santander Puerto Rico, through its Santander Universities Global Division, announced Thursday the start of its “U-Work” internship program on the island, launched with the support of the Economic Development Bank, the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company and the Puerto Rico Board of Education.

For the three-year initiative, the bank will invest $1.5 million through 2015. However, during the first year Santander will put up $300,000, as will the EDB and Pridco, while the Board of Education will put up $200,000. A total of 260 college students will benefit from the six-month internship program each year.

The first-year investment will cover a $3,000 salary per student, who will be required to work some 20 hours a week over the term of the internship. The first wave of interns will start working in October.

Román Blanco-Reinosa, newly appointed president of Banco Santander Puerto Rico, said the partnerships forged with the government agencies and participating companies “have been instrumental in ensuring the effectiveness of U-Work Santander.”

“Besides being committed to supporting higher education, Banco Santander Puerto Rico takes it a step further by promoting the development of young talent on the island, opening opportunities in the labor sector and implementing initiatives to reduce unemployment and the brain drain abroad,” he said, making his first public appearance since taking over the helm of the bank earlier this week.

The U-Work Santander internship program offers college students the opportunity to get their first work experience. Participating students have the opportunity to work in the professional area for which they are getting their studies, or may also work in other areas of interest, while they receive a stipend for their work.

Otero, Blanco-Reinosa and Pérez-Riera

“This is about complementing a college formation with work experience, which should facilitate their insertion in the labor market. It’s important to go beyond formation, as there is a lot of young talent in Puerto Rico with potential for development, which is what drives U-Work. We want to involve them, so they can learn,” Blanco-Reinosa said.

Some 200 companies in a wide-ranging scope of industries — Architecture, Engineering, Accounting, Technology, Insurance, Business Consultants, Retail, Wholesale and Health — will take part in the first edition of U-Work Santander.

“U-Work Santander offers participating companies the opportunity to have a college student working for them for six months, who could become part of their payroll if they choose to hire them,” said Rafael Vélez-Palmer, director of Santander Universities.

“This initiative increases skilled labor to improve competitiveness, while developing a pool of young talent for future job opportunities,” he said, adding the program’s goal is to grant 1,000 internships over the three-year duration.

Meanwhile, all of the island’s major colleges — including the University of Puerto Rico, the Inter American University, the Pontifical Catholic University, Sacred Heart University, the Polytechnic University, several Ana G. Méndez University System campuses, the Conservatory of Music, Caribbean University and Carlos Albizu University — have signed up, enabling their students to participate in the internship program.

EDB President Ivonne Otero said the government agreed to get involved in the initiative to try to plug the brain drain, “through an excellent initiative to retain all that talent that we have. College students aren’t the future of Puerto Rico, they’re our present.”

After the first wave of students start working next month, two more groups will be selected in November and January 2013. To apply, students with a minimum grade point average of 2.75 must do so through www.becas-santander.com or the www.universia.pr website.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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