BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — As the pandemic has brought on financial struggles many students are facing the difficulty of having to choose to work over their education. One local university is here to put an end to stress from non-relevant job fields.
The National Science Foundation has given a grant of $200,000 towards California State University Bakersfield’s new MAESTRO program. The program is intended to help low-income and overly worked students get paid internships and jobs within their desired field.
“Over the past 20 years with COVID and everything, modern students have jobs outside of class that are unrelated to their academic program and they're working a lot,” explained Dr. Alberto Cruz, a CSUB associate professor of computer science.
Dr. Cruz said that students often struggle with having to work long hours at jobs that have no relevance to their career fields.
“They have supervisors who are often inflexible to work around their schedule, so students who work and provide for their families are especially affected by this making it harder for them to graduate on time.”
Dr. Cruz went on to say that many students are the breadwinners of their household and have to make the decision of taking care of their families over attending a class.
“If it came down to it where they chose to keep coming to lecture or keep food on the table, I’m pretty sure they would keep food on the table.”
As many students complete courses towards their career field nowadays that just isn't enough. Students must obtain real-life internships in order to be considered experienced.
“Career-relevant work doesn’t count as relevant work experience,” continued Dr. Cruz.
internships are an important resource provided by the university’s Maestro program. Dr. Cruz believes that is how students will learn will life relevant jobs skills in comparison to working just any job.
“You feel engaged in your career and that starts at a university. That's where you find an internship like an apprenticeship where you learn the various things that we simply cannot just teach you in a classroom.”
Dr. Cruz is optimistic that this new program will assist students with graduating on time and help them begin their desired careers right away.
"I just hope that this project will be fulfilling and get students graduated and in real-world experiences.”
Dr. Cruz did mention that 62 percent of these students work part-time and 23 percent of these students work full-time. The first component of the Maestro program is to fund 10 to 20 internships which will allow students to focus on their studies primarily rather than their work schedules.