The University is providing funding this year for the Yale College Council’s Yale-New Haven internship program, which first placed over two dozen Yalies in unpaid internships throughout the city last spring.
In an effort to help foster a healthy relationship between Yale students and New Haven, administrators have hired a student manager to coordinate with the YCC, potential interns and organizations looking to hire students, Office of New Haven & State Affairs Program Director Reggie Solomon said. The employers involved include organizations in both the public and private sectors.
“We decided to do it because we want to be supportive of students trying to get out into the New Haven community,” he said. “A lot of students might work with nonprofits while they are here … but also trying to give students some private-sector internship opportunities is what this program is trying to do.”
YCC Vice President Steve Engler ’07 said he conceived of the program two years ago after he had little success in securing an academic-year internship with existing programs such as Dwight Hall’s Urban Fellows, which he said was not well publicized and offered positions to a minimal number of students. Engler was offered a job for the spring of 2005 with New Haven Legal Assistance — which provides legal counsel to low-income city residents — after he contacted them himself.
“When I was a sophomore, I wanted to intern in New Haven and found it was very difficult to do,” Engler said. “The idea is that there are students who want to experience New Haven in different ways besides just tutoring. Others might be more induced to go out and see New Haven if they thought they were gaining something.”
The Urban Fellows program, which seeks to pair interested students with nonprofits in New Haven for paid two-year internships, provides jobs for about 15 Yalies at a time, Dwight Hall co-coordinator Jessica Bialecki ’08 said. The program sets up a booth at Dwight Hall’s organization bazaar at the beginning of each semester, she said, and sends out notices in Dwight Hall’s newsletter in an effort to make students aware of the opportunities available.
The YCC and the Office of New Haven and State Affairs worked with the Yale Club of New Haven and local alumni-run businesses to set up a pilot program last spring, Engler said. The program placed 25 students in eight organizations, including the Arts Council of Greater New Haven, the New Haven County Bar Association and the Mayor’s Office.
The new University funding will be used to pay for the administrative expenses of the Yale-New Haven internship program, including a wage for program coordinator Ayaska Fernando ’08.
The program has set up arrangements with nine local organizations this year and hopes to place a similar number of student interns, depending on the strength of the applicant pool, Fernando said. Students will e-mail their internship applications by the Feb. 9 deadline, Fernando said, and he will then direct the applications to the appropriate organizations.
“If the sites see someone they really want to hire, they will hire them,” Fernando said. “So they will maybe increase the number of places they’re offering or just reduce it … We decided not to cap that number because if they really want to take more people, they can do so.”
Fernando said he would eventually like to expand the program so that students on financial aid can receive stipends for the unpaid internships, but he said the University’s work-study budget does not currently have enough money to support such a move.
Caitlin O’Brien ’08, who interned at New Haven Legal Assistance last spring, said she enjoyed her experience even though devoting eight to 10 hours a week sometimes put a strain on her schedule. O’Brien lacked any special training in the field, she said, but the lawyer with whom she worked gave her meaningful work to do.
“With little practical work experience, it’s great to have a professional in that field … take an interest in you and try to further your learning,” O’Brien said. “I got to work with clients, call clients, write letters to clients, go through legal materials. It was a very hands-on experience.”
O’Brien said she continued interning at New Haven Legal Assistance in the fall and is working there again this semester.