Bulldogs internships under review

Administrators seeking student feedback about the Bulldogs Across America internship program this year may get more than they bargained for.

Undergraduate Career Services has started to review the Bulldogs program, the latest in a series of routine evaluations of internship programs at Yale. But some students interviewed said that essential parts of the program — which offers students paid internships and free housing in a variety of jobs in nine cities across the nation — could use some work.

“This review has been in discussion since back in the spring,” said Bulldogs Across America founder Rowan Claypool ’80, who started the program in Louisville, Ky. in 1998. “The term that they use is that we are under ‘thorough evaluation.’”

Jane Edwards, associate dean for international affairs and the administrator leading the review, said in an e-mail that UCS is surveying students who have interned through Bulldogs Across America and the student employers in all nine cities. UCS will use the review to “build and improve” the program, she said.

Claypool said Bulldogs Across America has been “very cooperative,” and has provided UCS with the results of its own student surveys which it conducts at the end of each summer.

Because it can be difficult for undergraduates to find paid internships in the current economic climate, Claypool said, the value of the program has increased. Last year, 493 students applied for Bulldogs Across America internships — the exact population of Davenport College. Of those, 136 were given jobs through the program.

Several Bulldogs Across America participants interviewed said their experiences with the program this summer were enjoyable, but they suggested several changes to improve the program.

Each intern is paired with an alumni mentor in the summer host city, a component that Bulldogs Across America Coordinator Ann Curtis said is one of the most important offering in the program. But some students interviewed complained that the pairings were often random and ineffective.

Alana Moreno ’11, who interned at a charter school in New Orleans, said that the mentor program was the weakest part of her Bulldogs Across America experience.

“My mentor was very nice,” she said, “but we had very little in common.”

Mentoring was also a concern for Charles Chu ’12, who worked in Santa Fe, N.M. Chu said he did not communicate often with his mentor, nor with his employer before he was hired. Communication between employers and interns in the program during the application process was limited, he said. If all Bulldogs Across America employers replied to Yalies’ job applications on the same timeline, he added, students would have more flexibility in finding a summer job.

While Moreno and Chu said the sense of community among their fellow interns was one of the highlights of the summer for them, Esther Hyun ’12 said she wished she had an opportunity to interact more with her fellow Bulldogs interns in Minneapolis, Minn.

The UCS hopes to address such student issues in its review, Edwards said.

“We believe that all programs should be reviewed to ensure that they met the highest standards for their management and for the experience of our students,” she said, “and we hope always to improve the quality of the work that we do.”

The application period for summer 2011 Bulldogs Across America internships begins before winter break, Curtis said, adding that the program will be advertised more at the start of the spring semester. The program is open to all Yalies, including seniors.

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