MiraCosta College students will see an expanded offering of paid, off-campus internship opportunities through a new Federal Work Study (FWS) experiment that could launch as early as this fall.
MiraCosta has partnerships with a large number of area businesses that can offer critical work experience for students, but current rules limit opportunities in formal work-study programs to part-time employment and most current internships are unpaid. Under the FSW experiment, MiraCosta College students can enroll in paid internships—funded through the FWS program—as long as the job is related to their academic program.
The FWS experiment is aimed at increasing partnerships between colleges and industry, boosting student success rates, reducing student debt and increasing post-graduation employment options.
MiraCosta College officials say many details are still being worked out but are encouraged by the possibilities. “One of the primary goals at the Career Center is to get our students internship opportunities so, when they leave MiraCosta College, they will have not only the coursework but also the work experience that can help them find a good paying job and career,” said Student Employment Coordinator Viviana Rodriguez. “This program will allow more students to gain hands-on experience through paid internships.”
Rodriguez said one local firm has already agreed to partner with MiraCosta College in multiple disciplines, including website editing and development, graphic design, videography and video production. Agreements with other companies could soon follow.
The U.S. Department of Education notes that colleges and universities rarely provide students with offcampus employment opportunities, despite the fact that few college graduates are destined to seek employment at an institution of higher education. In 2016–17, for example, more than 3,000 colleges and universities provided over 600,000 students with FWS jobs, but 92 percent of FWS dollars supported oncampus employment.
Of the nearly 400 internship positions posted on MiraCosta’s Job and Internship Network, more than half are unpaid. The Department of Education will fund many of these unpaid internships, allowing students who are required to have relevant job experience to do so in a paid status and no longer forcing them to choose between an internship or a paid position to help them pay for basic necessities.
Factors leading to MiraCosta College being chosen for the experimental program include a large number of students who are eligible for Pell grants or current FWS employment; approximately 19.7 percent of MiraCosta College students receive a federal Pell grant and 0.6 percent are employed in a FWS program.
The MiraCosta College Financial Aid Office will validate enrollment status and eligibility of students interested in a paid internship. The Career Center will be responsible for connecting eligible students with the internship opportunities.
About MiraCosta College
The MiraCosta Community College District has served the coastal North San Diego County area for over 80 years. More than 21,000 credit students per semester in over 70 disciplines enroll in associate degrees, university transfer and workforce readiness certificate programs. The college also serves a wide spectrum of educational needs in the region ranging from programs for adult education, basic skills, and ESL to a California Community College pilot program offering the nation’s first baccalaureate degree in biomanufacturing. MiraCosta College is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC).