UCS survey reveals diverse summer pursuits

In a first step toward tracking the career interests of Yale undergraduates, the University has published the results of a survey on student summer activities.

Last month, Undergraduate Career Services published a comprehensive “Summer 2013 Activities Report” on the results of the survey, which asked 4,225 Yale students about their pursuits during the summer of 2013. 2,598 students responded to the survey, making for a 61.5 percent response rate. The report, which provides both aggregated data as well as data broken down by class year, showed that more Yale students work in education over the summer than any other industry.

According to the report, “no one industry [attracted] Yale students as a critical mass.” Students in the education industry constituted the largest slice of the respondent population with 6.1 percent, while nonprofit work was the only other industry to pass 5 percent. At least 20 industries had employed more than 1.5 percent of the survey’s respondents.

Nearly a quarter of survey respondents reported holding a paid internship over the summer, while 17.1 percent of students did unpaid internships. Scientific research, academic study, foreign language programs and paid jobs — such as being a camp counselor — all had double-digit percentages. Volunteer work, field research and performance in the visual arts each claimed between 2 and 4 percent of respondents.

“The breadth of options and activities that students pursued over their summers is astounding,” UCS Director Jeanine Dames said, adding that this diversity of career interests is a testament to the strength of the University’s liberal arts education. Dames said that Yale is unlike some schools such as the University of Pennsylvania, where “it would make sense for a critical mass of students to go into one particular industry such as finance.”

All eight students interviewed by the News were surprised at how few students worked in consulting or investment banking over the summer — 2.4 percent and 2.2 percent respectively. Jacob Marcus ’14 said he thought the percentages would be much higher given how many job opportunities on the UCS website are related to these fields.

Stefano Malfitano ’14 said that he was surprised at the discrepancy between the number of students who interned in finance or consulting over the summer and the number who worked in these fields after graduation.

According to separate UCS report on postgraduate activities for the Class of 2013, 26.4 percent of graduates in the workforce were employed in the financial services and consulting industries.

Almost 90 percent of respondents to the summer activities survey said they secured their summer employment during the spring semester or later. 52.3 percent of students secured their position in the months of March or April.

Lukas Czinger ’16 said he was comforted by that fact, adding that many students already were stressed by the lack of certainty in their summer plans.

UCS administrators said they believe that having a summer activities report will better help the office track the career interests of current undergraduates and also allow students to learn from one another’s experiences. When the office published the report on the UCS website and Symplicity, they attached an Excel spreadsheet where students can see where respondents worked and contact them if they are interested in learning more about their summer activities.

“Having this resource available online allows a student to connect with other undergraduates who are interested in the same industries,” Dames said, adding that she believes many younger students in particular will be surprised at the diversity of industries, jobs and opportunities that Yale undergraduates embrace during their summers.

According to Dames, UCS plans to build an evaluation database later this term to enable students who are interested in interning at an organization to contact students who have worked there previously. Dames added that students will also be able to view evaluations of specific employers and experiences.

This evaluation database will be accessible only to current undergraduates in order to maintain the privacy necessary for students to feel comfortable in giving honest feedback and reviews of their summer experience, Dames said. She added that, in many cases, Yale alumni were the undergraduates’ supervisors and bosses. In future surveys, which UCS expects to give annually from hereon, the office will ask respondents to give qualitative answers to questions on topics such as the work atmosphere and culture of the organization and the level of supervision and guidance that interns were afforded, Dames said.

“With this evaluation database, suppose that you were interested in interning at the New York Times and you saw that an upperclassman had interned there previously. You could not only ask that student about his or her experiences but read through what that student had already posted,” she said.

All eight students interviewed said they appreciated how UCS broke down the report by class grade. Czinger and Dillon Lew ’16 said it was unsurprising that freshmen and sophomores were more likely to pursue academic or language study but upperclassmen were more likely to engage in paid internships. Lew also said he thought the survey demonstrated the inequity between students at Yale, citing the significant percentages of University students who had the financial capability to pursue unpaid internships or have family friends who could help them find summer opportunities.

29.5 percent of respondents said that they had found their job or internship through a family friend or contact, the most popular source of employment.

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