UCS to fund senior job interview travel

This spring, some students will receive free transportation to job interviews — paid for not by their prospective employer, but by Yale’s Undergraduate Career Services.

Starting this semester, UCS is expanding a program called “MetroLink” that helps subsidize travel expenses for seniors who have received offers to either interview or audition for jobs in the nonprofit, public or performing arts sectors, according to UCS Director Jeanine Dames. Employers in these sectors tend to have smaller budgets for recruitment, she said.

Last year, UCS piloted the program, though only 32 students who were traveling to Washington D.C. for interviews with government agencies were eligible at the time. After receiving funds from three private-sector employers and the Yale Club of New York, Dames said UCS will be able to cover up to $100 for about 150 students’ travel plans across the country this year.

“There’s an incredible need for this service,” Dames said, adding that even a train ticket to New York represents a significant financial burden for many students. “We were seeing a lot of students in those fields not going to the interviews even if they had an interest in the jobs.”

After the implementation of the pilot MetroLink program last year, the number of seniors traveling to Washington to interview for full-time government jobs increased from 15 students in 2012 to 35 students in 2013, according to UCS data. The number of seniors who applied to federal agencies also rose from 81 in 2012 to 178 in 2013, said Robyn Acampora, UCS associate director of employment programs and counselor for the nonprofit and public service fields. She added that the knowledge UCS would provide travel subsidies may have encouraged more seniors to apply to these opportunities.

According to Dames, 66 percent of the seniors who received MetroLink funding last year said they would not have gone to their interview offers without UCS’s travel subsidy. Some of those students accepted the job offers and are now working full-time in Washington, she said.

In order to apply for the travel subsidy, seniors must fill out a brief survey on Symplicity answering a series of questions regarding the type of work and location of the interview or audition, Dames said. Students must also indicate whether they would attend the interview or audition without UCS funding, she said.

“I want students to take advantage of this program, so that we can make a claim to expand the program in the future,” said Kathleen Volz, the UCS performing arts specialist. UCS hopes to expand both the number of subsidies the office gives each year as well as the amount of each subsidy, she said.

Acampora and Dames said UCS will ask more private employers to donate to this project if this year’s data shows more students are going to interviews and applying to jobs in these sectors as a result of MetroLink.

Dames said while the financial need of each applicant is considered when UCS allocates MetroLink funding, the process is conducted on a “first-come, first-serve basis until the money runs out.”

All nine seniors interviewed supported UCS’s expansion of MetroLink.

Drew Morrison ’14, who is interested in public service and government work, said UCS needs to double these efforts to provide more opportunities for students to pursue careers other than financial services or consulting. Banks and consulting firms dominate the landscape because of their large recruiting budgets, he said, adding that UCS should level the playing field by inviting nonprofits and government agencies to interview at Yale.

Uriel Epshtein ’14, who is interested in government work, said interviews can help to clarify misconceptions students have about some industries. He added that students often perceive government compensation to be much lower than what it actually is — a perception that could be corrected during an interview.

“I think [MetroLink is] definitely a step in the right direction,” Epshtein said.

John Gonzalez ’14, who is interested in nonprofit work, said Yale needs to do a better job of catering to the needs of low-income students on campus. He said although $100 does not sound like a lot of money to some students, it can mean the difference between a student going to an interview for his or her dream job or missing out on the opportunity.

The three firms that contributed to the MetroLink fund this year were Marmol Radiner, Flow Traders and Spark Investment Management.

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