UCS increases international opportunities

While many students will work in the United States this summer, others will take advantage of opportunities abroad, as the Undergraduate Career Services expands the number of UCS-sponsored overseas internships.

This year, UCS has added internship opportunities in nine countries — Brazil, Colombia, Germany, Ghana, India, Japan, Jordan, South Africa and South Korea — and has changed its policy to allow students to apply to more than three UCS-sponsored international internships. Still, while alumni in the 10 countries where UCS already sponsors internships generally arrange housing for interns, that option is not yet available to students who wish to work in the nine new countries.

“Although there is no coordinated housing available in our new locations, we are confident that students will still receive a quality work experience,” said Director of Employment Programs and Deputy Director of UCS, Ken Koopmans. He added that he expects the local alumni in each country to play a leading role in guiding students’ transition to their summer internships.

Koopmans said that UCS had already asked employers in the newly added countries to pledge their commitment to helping students find housing. Employers will advise students on which neighborhoods are safe and how they can navigate the city, he said. Koopmans added that such support is necessary to ensuring students’ safety and quality work experience.

Karen Yvon ’13, an alumna who helped spearhead the creation of the UCS internships in Brazil this year, said she hopes these opportunities will inspire Yale students to learn more about Brazil, as well as South America in general.

“I contacted the UCS office upon graduation because I could think of no better way to give back to Yale than to show my country to undergraduates,” she said, adding that many Brazilian alumni were thrilled at the opportunity to recruit talented Yale students. “Yale forces you to think in a critical and creative way that not a lot of university graduates at Brazil can do.”

Jeanine Dames, director of UCS and associate dean of Yale College, said UCS also added a considerable number of domestic internships last summer in several geographic areas that tend to be less popular among Yale students, such as Louisville, KY and San Antonio, TX. Dames explained that UCS intentionally added these internships in order to raise student awareness of opportunities in smaller cities across America.

Rowan Claypool ’80, the founder of Bulldogs in the Bluegrass — the first such program in the summer of 1998 — said UCS-sponsored domestic internships encourage Yale students to consider working in cities that they would have overlooked otherwise.

“Louisville, Kentucky is more exotic than anything else Yale students will ever do in their summers,” he said. “You know thousands who have been to London, dozens who have been to Beijing but no one from Louisville, Kentucky.”

Alumni established the domestic internship programs to demonstrate to the students that the best summer opportunities can exist outside of large and prestigious cities, Claypool said. He cited paid internships, free housing and extensive alumni connections as advantages that the UCS-sponsored domestic programs can give to students.

Although UCS always solicits internship opportunities from alumni and employers across the globe, Koopmans said the office is not seeking to expand for the sake of expansion. Rather, he said, the office aims to offer opportunities in the locations and industries in which student interest is highest.

Based on conversations with students and survey feedback, Koopmans said that students who participate in UCS-sponsored internships had more positive feedback about their summer activities in general. Koopmans said this may be because UCS carefully reviews all the internships it sponsors to ensure they constitute “valuable work experience” and maintains close contact with the intern supervisors.

As of now, UCS has posted 194 domestic internships for summer 2014, though Koopmans said the number grows every day as more applications arrive and are reviewed by the office.  Although employers are asked to submit their job descriptions by Dec. 13, Koopmans said the office generally receives applications until the end of March.

Although he was not able to give specific numbers, Koopmans said he expects the office to surpass the 350 domestic internships they offered last year.

This year, for the first time, students will also be able to apply to an unlimited number of the 150 UCS-sponsored international internships posted on Symplicity. In past years, students were limited to applying to three international internships.

Koopman said he initially feared removing the limit because employers could end up being turned down by students who had applied for a large number of internships.

“I had reservations about lifting the cap but we’ve figured out a system that should maximize student placement,” Koopmans said.

According to the new application system, employers will be able to list the students they wish to hire in order of preference on Symplicity, he said. If a firm could only hire one intern but listed six applicants they liked in order of preference, the employer would be less frustrated if several students declined the offer, Koopmans said.

Both Koopmans and Dames said it would not have been possible for UCS to have implemented this feature on eRecruiting, the online resource system which Symplicity replaced at the beginning of this academic year.

But despite this feature, Koopmans said he anticipates that UCS will need to do a lot of “hand-holding” with employers to make sure they are understanding about the process.

Koopmans said students will be given only two business days to respond to a job offer from a UCS-sponsored internship, whether domestic or international. Though he acknowledged that this was significantly less time than what students often receive from private firms, Koopmans said it was the only way to ensure that all the internship spots would be filled either before the housing deadlines for domestic internships or in time for students to obtain the necessary work authorization permits for international employment.

All six students interviewed said the support of UCS makes them more likely to pursue an international internship.

“Without the guidance of UCS, I’d be worried that I was traveling across the globe for a poorly-organized internship,” Lukas Czinger ’16 said.

David Lilienfeld ’15, who spent last summer doing a UCS-sponsored internship in Brussels, said he benefitted from the University’s connections while in a foreign country. Lilienfeld added that the Yale network in Brussels was strong and that alumni would often take students out for cultural trips or to restaurants.

Still, both David Chi ’16 and Andrew Tran ’16 said they thought the two-day response period for UCS-sponsored internships was too short.

“I’d feel pressured to take the internship even if it wasn’t my top choice,” Chi said, while Tran added that this firm deadline would pressure him into only applying for his top choice internships.

The deadline for UCS-sponsored internships is Feb 3. After that date, if internship vacancies remain, the job is reposted and applications are received on a rolling basis.

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