Houston to host Bulldogs Across America program

A year later than originally planned, Houston, Texas, will be added to the list of six locations already available to students through the Bulldogs Across America summer internship programs, Undergraduate Career Services announced this week.

Houston-based alumni are in the process of setting up internship positions for Yale students at companies around the city, each of which will pay a minimum of $3,000 for a 10-week period, UCS Director Philip Jones said. This year also marks the first time that the University will financially support the six Bulldogs Across America programs, which were previously entirely alumni-funded, Jones said in an interview Monday.

Jones said he expects the “Bulldogs By the Bayou” program to offer about a dozen positions, although the exact number and types of internships has not yet been determined. In the past, students in other Bulldogs Across America programs — in San Francisco, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Denver, Louisville and Cleveland — have worked at a wide range of companies, from symphony orchestras to finance firms to policy centers.

The program will provide housing for students free of charge, but alumni are still searching for an appropriate location in Houston, Jones said.

The University’s financial support will alleviate the financial burden on the local Yale clubs, Jones said. He said the clubs spend roughly $60,000 to $70,000 each summer to cover student housing and to underwrite the salaries for students working at nonprofit organizations, which often cannot afford to pay interns $3,000.

University officials are still discussing how much Yale will contribute.

“Overwhelmingly, the money will still be coming from the Yale clubs,” he said. “But even if it’s 80-20, as much as anything that’s a political statement about our investment in this program.”

The Houston program was slated to begin last summer, but ran into last-minute difficulties when the organizers had personal issues that prevented them from finalizing arrangements for the program, UCS Associate Director John Bau said.

The Bulldogs Across America programs are mostly alumni-coordinated and involve a significant investment of time and resources on the part of the local Yale clubs, Bau said. But he said clubs were willing to sponsor the programs because the planning and activities bring alumni together and often end up strengthening the city’s alumni base.

In each Bulldogs city, alumni arrange a variety of mentoring opportunities and cultural and outdoor activities for participants. Yale students in Houston will be able to explore the city’s museum district, for example, Jones said.

UCS expects about 120 students to take jobs around the country through the Bulldogs Across America program, Jones said.

The prospect of landing a paid job is alluring, said Saqib Rabbani ’10, who is considering applying to a Bulldogs program. Although he is not particularly interested in Houston, he said he hopes to work at a consulting firm this summer.

Students who participated in Bulldogs programs last summer said they enjoyed the alumni-sponsored activities as well as the opportunity to develop working-world skills.

“The alumni really went out of their way to make sure we had lots of things to do all summer,” Peter Luehring-Jones ’09 said of his time in the Twin Cities. Among other activities, he said, the group went canoeing and kayaking and took a Segway tour of the area.

Luehring-Jones said his internship at VocalEssence, a professional choral group, exposed him to the atmosphere of a nonprofit and taught him how to tackle large projects. Over the course of the summer, he said, he researched and wrote a history of the group that will be published soon.

But for some past program participants, internships left something to be desired.

Henry Agnew ’09 said his experience at Conservation Minnesota, an environmental nonprofit, would have been better if his employer had been more organized.

“They weren’t very prepared to have me,” Agnew said. “They really didn’t give me very much to do, and it ended up being me taking what I knew about their goals and creating my own work.”

In the end, Agnew said, he produced materials that the company found useful, but he was disappointed that the company seemed to have such low expectations of him.

UCS will host a summer options mini-fair featuring representatives from the Bulldogs Across America and the International Bulldogs programs, among other groups, on Friday, Nov. 30.

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