Just 18 months ago, the University of California, Berkeley launched its Student Achievement Guided by Experience (SAGE) Scholars program and already it's a hit. SAGE is designed to place talented, motivated Cal students in private sector internships. The students have the opportunity to complete internships that mirror their career goals at partner businesses.
Although a young program, SAGE is enthusiastically endorsed by participating businesses and students. Hacienda will get its first SAGE Scholar when UC student Jennie Mojarro begins her internship with Roche Molecular Systems in its offices here and in Alameda.
SAGE targets promising students from economically-disadvantaged and diverse backgrounds. It combines rigorous academics, workplace experience, professional skills development, business mentors and peer advisors. SAGE is open to Cal students in all majors who maintain a 3.0 GPA, and within three years will be in place at all UC campuses.
At the helm of the UC Berkeley program is the program's director, Marjorie Weingrow. She came to the job knowing exactly what types of students businesses were looking for, having had extensive experience as an administrator in medium- to large-size companies where she implemented internships.
"Businesses see this as a very inexpensive way to defray workforce recruitment costs," says Weingrow. "Also, companies are aware of workforce development, so they see the value of internships."
Weingrow said that Berlex Biosciences, a large international company in Richmond, has three SAGE students, and is very pleased with the program.
"Students are very dedicated and motivated and there is a real commitment to the company where they are interning. The program is a wonderful opportunity for them."
The program also offers economic benefits.
"For many it's a way to stay in school. The Bay Area is very expensive, and some students have come from the Central Valley and other places in the world. SAGE is a way for them to stay in school, have financial aid, and an internship salary. Each participating company contributes $6,500 for a student, $5,000 of which goes directly to the student."
Weingrow said that 10 students are in the program this year and her goal is to recruit more than that for next year.
She believes that the wave of the future is partnerships between business and education. "With a fast- moving businesses and the economy, it's the only way that workforce development will work."
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