The results are in and by all measures Stockton University’s inaugural Atlantic City Summer Experience – Live, Work Learn Program was a rousing success.
The program gave 130 students the opportunity to spend the summer working for an Atlantic City business, while staying for free at the Stockton Atlantic City Residential Complex on the Boardwalk and earning four college credits from a free career-readiness and leadership class.
The participating business partners included AtlantiCare; Bally’s Atlantic City Hotel & Casino; Borgata Hotel, Casino & Spa; Caesars Entertainment (Caesars Atlantic City, Harrah’s Resort and Tropicana Atlantic City); The Claridge Hotel; fantaSea Resorts; Hard Rock Hotel and Casino; Ocean Casino Resort; Resorts Casino Hotel; and Steel Pier.
NJBIZ chronicled the launch of the initiative in June.
Of the participating students, 83% were satisfied with the program experience and 65% said the work experience provided them with education that they could not have learned in the classroom.
“I am extremely pleased with the success of the program,” said Stockton President Harvey Kesselman. “I applaud the efforts of everyone involved this summer to make this a reality.”
Beyond offering students learning opportunities, while also providing local businesses with employees during the city’s busy season, as many as 30 participants will continue their employment in the fall.
“This is absolutely what I had always envisioned for this program – that it would lead to a guaranteed job,” said Kesselman. “You can say to a prospective student that if you are involved with this program, you had a chance of winding up with a job at the end of it.”
Benefiting both sides
An example is senior Natalie Giovinazzi, who spent the summer with AtlantiCare as she works toward becoming a nurse. “I feel like I’m so prepared now,” she said. “I know what to expect and what’s expected of me. It just made me so much more comfortable going into my senior year.”
The Swedesboro native will continue to work side-by-side with nurses and doctors as a tech at AtlantiCare this fall.
“I’ve always been nervous going into the nursing program because I just had no idea of what that atmosphere was like,” Giovinazzi explained. “Now, because of the program, I know what the nurses expect the techs to do. I feel so very, very prepared for the nursing program.”
On top of the positive feedback from Stockton students and staff, all 10 of the business partners reported that it was a worthwhile experience for their company and the students.
“We were providing an opportunity to these students to learn a skill, whether it’s how to deal at a gaming table or how to open a restaurant,” said Michael Monty, the general manager of Bally’s Atlantic City. “But it wasn’t just benevolent. These were meaningful positions for our team this summer to get filled.”
Monty added that Bally’s would participate again next year.
“Once you get your foot in the door, then the sky’s the limit,” said Monty. “If there’s somebody who’s a hustler, motivated, and isn’t where they want to spend their time next summer, we have a lot of different opportunities here for them. We can expose them to a lot of different business lines by the time they graduate.”
Leamor Kahanov, Stockton provost and vice president for academic affairs, said she hopes to expand the program next year and include additional partners.
“I’m thrilled that so many students participated in the program’s first year and were able to gain real-world experience that not only would help them complete their Stockton education, but would begin a path toward a future career,” said Kahanov.