Yale after Yale

For the last three years, Teach for America has been the single largest employer of Yale’s graduating seniors. But some graduates are choosing one- or two-year jobs with an educational entity they know well: Yale.

The University offers short-term jobs to students in many sectors that serve as a launchpad for their future careers, be they medicine, education or business. While several alumni said spending their first post-grad years still attached to the University can be strange, they said their experiences have been a far cry from a fifth undergraduate year. Regardless of their jobs, alumni said, New Haven looks different from a graduate’s point of view — and a short commitment could turn into something more permanent.

TAKING A BREAK(-UP?)

Christopher Lin ’10 accepted a job as a research assistant for a pediatric cardiologist at the Medical School in October 2009 knowing that the project would take more time than he had left as an undergradate — and that he wanted to take one year off before medical school. He stayed at Yale and continued researching the role of cardiac cilia in early heart development in mice in the lab of Dr. Martina Brueckner.

He spent the first part of the year applying to medical schools, but now has time to spend with a close-knit group of friends from the class of 2010 that has stayed in New Haven to work or complete five-year master’s degree programs at Yale.

Lin and Alyssa Nguyen-Phuc ’10, a cognitive science research assistant, both said that many of their friends from Yale chose to work in New York after graduating. Because the commute between the two cities was relatively easy, they said, they frequently found themselves either visiting friends or hosting them back in New Haven. But the group of alumni who have stayed behind in New Haven have created their own social community. Nguyen-Phuc, who started her research assistant job while still an undergraduate, said she has learned to distance herself from Yale College and spend less time with her undergraduate friends to distinguish between her old life as an undergraduate and her new life as an alum.

It was a steep learning curve for Nguyen-Phuc, who said that she initially had no reservations about staying in New Haven for a year before applying to medical school, since she “didn’t really want to leave Yale.”

“I thought being here for the next year would be awesome,” she said. “But it’s like spending a lot of time with an ex-boyfriend that you didn’t really want to break up with.”

GETTING TO KNOW NEW HAVEN

Adam Haliburton ’10 had hoped to move to Japan to be a teacher after graduating. Those plans changed when he received an e-mail last year notifying him that he had been recommended for a Woodbridge Fellowship — a one-year fellowship in Yale administration for recent graduates.

Haliburton jumped at the opportunity. He now works in the Yale’s Office of General Counsel under Richard Jacob, the associate vice president for federal relations. Next year, Haliburton still hopes to go to Japan on a teaching fellowship and eventually, to graduate school. But during this interim year, Haliburton said he was looking forward to learning more about New Haven and finding time to do things he never did as an undergraduate, like hike to West Rock and visit the Wooster Square Farmer’s Market.

After nine years studying and working at Yale, Jeremiah Quinlan ’03 said that he has grown to love living in New Haven. Quinlan just returned to Yale’s admissions office this September as deputy dean of admissions after two years away to complete his MBA at the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University.

“Having lived in Chicago [near Northwestern], I got a sense of how lucky I was to stay in New Haven,” Quinlan said of his return to Yale. “New Haven is a great place [for a Yalie] to start your life as a young adult because it has great diversity of social life and cultural depth, but it feels like your hometown.”

“THE JOB THAT BROUGHT ME BACK”

Like Haliburton, Quinlan’s commitment to Yale was supposed to be short-term.

He had been interested in teaching at a public school after graduation, but he so enjoyed a summer job as a senior interviewer for the admissions office that he began looking into jobs as an admissions officer when the summer ended. Quinlan accepted a job as an assistant director of admissions in 2003.

The admissions office generally expects people to stay in this position for two years before leaving Yale, Quinlan said, and he had planned to pursue an MBA once his commitment ended. During these first few years as an alum, Quinlan moved to State Street near Modern Apizza — a part of the city he had never visited as an undergraduate.

“I still had friends in school,” Quinlan said of his friends in the classes of 2004 and 2005. “I was able to stay in touch with them.”

He shelved his plan to earn an MBA when the admissions office offered him a job as director of outreach and recruitment in 2005. He finally left in 2008 for graduate school at Northwestern and planned to start a career in brand management after graduating — but he decided to apply for the deputy dean job the summer after he finished his degree, and was hired again. While not every Yalie will see their short-term job turn into the beginnings of a career, Quinlan said, his work in the admissions office was worth coming back for.

“It was the job that made me stay, and the job that brought me back,” he said.

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