Live, Work, Learn Program a Great Success

A large group of students outside for an orientation

Live, Work, Learn Program a Great Success

Innovative program meets students' and employers' needs for great win-win.

Any doubts Stockton University senior Natalie Giovinazzi had about becoming a nurse were lifted this summer thanks to the school’s Atlantic City Summer Experience — Live, Work, Learn program.

“I feel like I’m so prepared now,” said Giovinazzi, of Swedesboro, who worked primarily as a patient care associate with AtlantiCare. “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 Health Science major was one of 130 students who spent the summer getting paid to work for an Atlantic City business, 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.

Of the 130 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.

The innovative program that began in 2022 not only provided local businesses with employees during the city’s busiest time of the year and students with learning opportunities in the city, but for as many as 30 students it gave them continued employment in the fall.

“That is absolutely what I had always envisioned for this program — that it would lead to a guaranteed job,” former President Harvey Kesselman said. “You can say to a prospective student that if you are involved in this program, you had a chance of winding up with a job at the end of it.”

A nursing student in green scrubs, hair net, face mask and shield
Natalie Giovinazzi worked at AtlantiCare during the Live, Work, Learn program.

Giovinazzi continued to be a “tech” at AtlantiCare last fall, working side-by-side with nurses and doctors. She has dealt with patients of all ages from the elderly to even spending time in the newborn intensive care unit and witnessing a Cesarean delivery.

In addition to Stockton students and staff being pleased with the summer experience, all 10 of the business partners believed 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 said there was no doubt his casino would participate again next year and that the program is helping to develop potentially new employees.

“Once you get your foot in the door, then the sky’s the limit,” he said. “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.”

A student in red polo shirt working on a laptop at a table
Gregory Copeland studies for his summer course while participating in the Live, Work, Learn program.

Gregory Copeland appreciated the additional source of income last fall after Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa offered him a part-time job following his summer working as a food runner. The junior from Atlantic City worked at the casino’s pool and nightclub on the weekends. He said the program has helped him with time management to balance work, school and a social life.

The students are really good. They’re friendly. They are good with customer service. They are eager and willing to learn. Those things go a long way for us.”
Rick Beringer, vice president of Human Resources at Borgata
“I got to experience the casino life and that can be hectic at times, but it was good. I liked it,” said the Sociology and Anthropology major who also competes on Stockton’s track and field team. “I liked how (the program) put me in other people’s shoes, to see what they see and do (with their jobs).”

And while the Live, Work, Learn program had a large number of participants like Copeland from Atlantic County (24), 82% of the students live in other New Jersey counties, including 15 from Camden County, 14 from Essex County and nine from Gloucester County.

“Part of our mission of being an anchor institution is to be engaged in activities like this that support the economic welfare of the city of Atlantic City,” Kesselman said. “But this can also really help us recruit students from all over the state and beyond.”

A student in red polo shirt sits on a lounge chair on an outdoor patio
Michael Moro has completed two summers in the Live, Work, Learn program.

The program expanded for the 2023 summer - growing to about 245 participants in the second year. The program also saw an increase in community partners, up to 15. 

The increase in students is a direct reflection of how successful the program was last year, said Brian K. Jackson, Stockton Atlantic City chief operating officer and a coordinator of the program.

For the Borgata, which hired the most Stockton students at about 70, the program provides a partial solution to an annual concern — finding roughly 500 seasonal employees every summer.

“We certainly got applicants for seasonal positions that are challenging to fill,” said Rick Berninger, vice president of Human Resources at Borgata. “The students are really good. They’re friendly. They are good with customer service. They are eager and willing to learn. Those things go a long way for us.”

The program gave Michael Mora a chance to live on the beach, work at a casino and take a class.

“I was originally a social work major,” said the Mount Olive native. “Then I started working last summer at the Borgata, and I liked the business and management aspect of this, so I switched (his major) over to that.”

Mora is one of about 50 students who returned to the program this summer and kept last year’s job throughout the school year. He also is one of about 30 in the program who works as a supervisor.

students completed the program
community partners
of students satisifed with the experience