Global internships see more cities, positions

With the International Bulldogs programs offering more internships than ever before, Undergraduate Career Services predicts the number of applications from Yalies looking to work abroad this summer will keep pace.

The Yale-coordinated summer internship program will offer a total of 240 to 250 positions this year, up from 207 last year, although some positions are still being finalized, UCS Director Philip Jones said. UCS added three new cities to its roster this year — Istanbul, Turkey; Joao Pessoa, Brazil; and Shanghai — bringing the total number of International Bulldogs cities to 18.

Over 650 students submitted nearly 2,200 applications for the initial Jan. 27 deadline, Jones said, and he expects the total number of applications to reach 2,500 once negotiations with employers are concluded and all deadlines have passed. Last year, approximately 2,200 students filed applications for all available positions.

Students interviewed said they are pleased with the range of cities and variety of jobs offered and said they hope UCS will continue to expand the number of positions available. But several students said the cost of the cost of participating in the program — which, at an average of , they said can be prohibitive — has deterred them from applying.

The addition of about 40 positions this year is especially impressive given that the program’s largest city, Beijing, is on hiatus this year because of the Olympics, Jones said.

The Beijing program, which offered 32 positions last year, was cancelled for the summer because alumni in China were concerned the chaos brought on by the Olympics might lead to difficulties in securing housing.

To accommodate students interested in working in China, UCS launched the Shanghai program this summer. Jones said UCS intends to offer programs in both Shanghai and Beijing in summer 2009.

“With the number of students at Yale who study Chinese at a fairly high level, we’ve got a lot of students interested in using their language skills in a work environment abroad,” Jones said.

Although the positions have not yet been posted, the Bulldogs in India program will go forward this year, Jones said. The program was cancelled last year because of new Indian foreign-study regulations.

Jones said UCS expects to offer about 20 positions in New Delhi this summer — mostly focused on development issues and health care — will go live on the Web site once they are finalized in the next few weeks.

Along with this year’s new additions and the New Delhi program, Bulldogs internships are currently available in London, Brussels, Athens, Hong Kong, Singapore, Tokyo, Madrid, Buenos Aires, Budapest, Montreal, Uganda, Ghana, South Africa and Monterrey, Mexico.

While the average number of applications received per position has remained at about 10, where it was last year, some of the more popular positions have received many times that number, Jones said.

One position in London — Jones did not say which — received over 100 applications. It was the first position in the seven-year history of the program to break this threshold, Jones said. A few other positions, meanwhile, have received one, two or even zero applications, he said.

Some students said one significant factor in their decisions about whether to apply is the cost of the programs, which ranges from $4,000 to $5,000 for airfare, housing, food and other expenses. The London program, by far the most expensive, is expected to cost about $7,500 this year. The cost of the programs was an immediate deterrent for Samba Binagi ’11, who said he did not look into the internships at all because he knew he needed to make money this summer.

Most of the positions offered are unpaid, which Jones said is in the nature of international internships.

Other students have gone ahead and applied, but not without some financial misgivings. Sam Jackson ’11 said although he hopes to intern in London, Brussels or Singapore through the program, he is also exploring more “cost-effective” options.

“It’ll be an issue, and definitely financially punishing to do some internships,” Jackson said. “But at the same time, I think it’s an opportunity that’s worth it.”

Jackson added that he and some of his classmates are confused about whether Yale’s new financial-aid policy — which, among other things, reduced the expected summer contribution for first-year students — will apply this summer.

Director of Student Financial Services Caesar Storlazzi said this year’s freshmen will be expected to pay the $1,850 contribution set out in their financial-aid packages last fall. Those in the class of 2012 on financial aid, on the other hand, will pay the reduced rate of $1,200 for summer 2009.

Sophomores, juniors and seniors on financial aid will be required to continue contributing $2,400 each summer.

Several students interviewed said they hope UCS will increase the number of cities and positions, given the continued increase in enthusiasm about the program.

Laura Gonzalez ’11, who applied to two positions in Argentina, said she would be interested in seeing additional programs in Latin America and Africa. Although the variety of the current positions is impressive, she said, she and many of her classmates are worried that it will become increasingly difficult to land positions if applications continue to rise.

Lynn Wang ’11 said she thinks UCS should add more health-related internships, specifically in Spanish-speaking countries.

UCS is looking at expanding the number of programs in Latin America and Africa, as well as in the Baltic region, where there are currently no offerings, Jones said.

Jones said he is also considering adding a second city in countries that already have a well-established program. A program could be added in Scotland or Cambridge, for example, without diminishing the demand for internships in London, he said.

“The [United Kingdom] is by far and away the most popular location,” Jones said, noting that more than 600 of the 2,200 applications so far were for positions in London. “We wouldn’t be having trouble filling positions.”

Jones said he has to balance the desire to expand the program geographically with the reality that many students would choose to work in Europe over any other destination. The consideration that there are a fixed number of Yale students, and not all of them want to do Bulldogs internships over the summer, must also play into any decisions about expansion, Jones said.

As the University continues to create summer opportunities — including study-abroad programs and both international and domestic Yale-only internships — there will eventually come a point at which the programs start to thin each other’s pools of qualified applicants, Jones said.

“We’re not really going to know what that point is until the numbers start to drop,” Jones said.

Still, he said, his overall goal is still to offer between 100 and 150 internships in each of three regions: Europe, Asia and Africa/the Americas.

Over the past five summers, more than 500 Yalies have participated in Bulldogs internships.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Regarding the desire for more internships in Latin America, it is quite difficult to do this because in general the concept of "internship" is widely ignored in the region. There really is no culture of doing internships in Latin America, so it is hard to create good programs in the region that will be beneficial for Yale students.