Interns want program renewed

Students participating in the Yale-New Haven Internship pilot program said they would like to see the initiative — which helped them find unpaid jobs in the community — renewed next year.

The YNHI Web site connects students to New Haven internship sites — including New Haven Legal Assistance, the city’s Housing Authority, the Arts Council of Greater New Haven and the Mayor’s Office, said Yale College Council Representative Steven Engler ’07, who organized the program. The program is sponsored by the Yale College Council, the Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs, the Yale Club of New Haven, Undergraduate Career Services, and various other public and private sector organizations. While students in the program said it was instrumental in helping them seek unknown positions in the neighborhood, those who were able to obtain internships without the program said they do not think it is essential.

Engler said 99 students applied for internships early January, and 25 were accepted and began working at internship sites in February.

YCC President Steven Syverud ’06 said he was surprised by the number of applicants.

“This program clearly fills a need because of the strong student response,” he said.

Engler said he proposed the program this fall after realizing that an accessible database of internships would be helpful for putting undergraduates in contact with local organizations, which often received most of their applications from graduate students.

“This is a unique program because it combines a service initiative with real-world work experience,” he said. “This is a very good opportunity for students who might not have their summers available for an internship.”

Engler said he hopes to expand the YNHI into a work-study program and obtain funding to provide participating students with stipends in the future.

The Yale Office of New Haven and State Affairs sponsors the YNHI by connecting it with various agencies in the New Haven area that are interested in hiring Yale interns, ONHSA Program Director Reginald Solomon said.

“It’s a great innovative way to link students to the community,” he said. “It’s like a Web-based employer dating service.”

Rachel Newman ’09 obtained her internship with the organization CitySeed, which promotes sustainable agriculture, through YNHI. She said she decided to apply because she was looking for work in the public service realm.

“I think it’s a really good way to break out of the Yale bubble and see how life is for people living in our community that we don’t often interact with,” she said.

She said the program was vital in helping her secure her position.

“Otherwise, I wouldn’t have known where to look,” she said. “The program presented me with a whole list of options to pick from.”

But some students who were able to find New Haven internships without the help of the new program question the student need for the program at Yale.

Whitney Haring-Smith ’07, who worked at the Mayor’s Office for two years and now serves as executive director of the nonprofit organization New Haven Action, said he does not know anyone who has had trouble obtaining an internship in the New Haven community.

Haring-Smith said that while he thinks the program is helpful, it may not be essential for students looking for internships.

“Any program that helps people get involved is great,” he said. “But there are a lot of other opportunities and different avenues out there that people can look into.”

Engler said there will be a formal evaluation of the program at the end of the year to decide on whether it will be renewed in the fall.

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