Kentucky used to be one of the last places seniors would consider for post-graduation jobs.

But now, thanks to the success of the summer internship program Bulldogs in the Bluegrass, which places approximately 40 Yale students in the Louisville area for 10 weeks during the summer, Kentucky has attracted the interest of several seniors for work after college.

“There is no way that I would have gone to Kentucky without having done this program,” said Boston native Lindsey Tucker ’01, who worked at the Louisville Science Center last summer and hopes to work in public health in the Louisville area starting in the fall.

Since Bulldogs in the Bluegrass began in the summer of 1999, 24 members of the Class of 2001 have participated in the program; a total of nearly 70 students have participated overall. Currently, at least six seniors are actively seeking jobs in Louisville next year, said Rowan Claypool ’80, the program’s executive director. Three of those seniors are past Bulldogs in the Bluegrass participants, and the others heard about Louisville from their classmates in the program. The program guarantees a minimum salary of $2,800 and housing at Bellarmine University in Louisville.

“It’s a little bit of Southern culture that people are just inviting and friendly,” said Virginia native Martha Gates ’01, who worked at the Louisville Science Center last summer and intends to work for the Louisville city government this fall. “I knew that I didn’t want to live in the Northeast next year, and the summer made Kentucky an option.”

Historically, few Yalies went to Kentucky after graduation.

“There used to be zero Yale graduates who would come to Kentucky,” Claypool said. “This is exactly what we worked for and planned for. Things are turning out just as we hoped.”

This summer, 40 Yale undergraduates will intern in Louisville, selected from more than 90 applicants.

Participants said they were attracted to the Bulldogs in the Bluegrass summer because of a simple application process, its 10-week length and the chance to spend the summer in a new place with other Yale students.

Equally appealing are the program’s job offerings, which range from corporate positions at General Electric to social service work with the National Center for Family Literacy.

“It was the program as much as the job, and the program made it all worthwhile,” said Andrew Graham ’02, a computer science and electrical engineering major. “The job offerings that they had at GE were just a great opportunity for me, and being taken care of all summer by the alumni made it a great choice.”

Bulldogs in the Bluegrass includes several planned social events for the participants.

Graham will return to Kentucky for his second summer in the Bulldogs in the Bluegrass program in May.

Although most program participants have never been to Louisville before their internship, most come to love the region and consider it appealing enough to return.

“There are a lot of things about the city itself that I love,” Tucker said. “It’s kind of like New Haven in that it’s big enough to have a lot of culture and things to do, but it’s small enough for me to meet many people.”

Other students enjoyed the change of pace offered by the state.

“It’s a very relaxed atmosphere,” Graham said. “You can go and have a conversation about the weather, and it can be one of your best conversations of the day.”

Through various meetings with elected officials, the interns become very familiar with Louisville.

“They know Louisville better than their home town,” Claypool said.

A 12-member Placement Committee, consisting of four Yale graduates living in Louisville and other community members with extensive connections, both within the Chamber of Commerce and the Louisville corporate community, assist Yale graduates with the job search. The recruitment campaign involves the Placement Committee submitting the Yale students’ resumes to the 60-member Board of Directors of the Louisville Chamber of Commerce at its April meeting, Claypool said.

Yale students do not have to have participated in the program to receive the aid.

“They’re doing everything they can to help us get to Louisville,” Tucker said.

The internship program also has increased Kentucky corporate awareness of Yale graduates. Brown-Forman Corporation, a Fortune 500 distillery company based in Louisville, will conduct interviews at Yale later this month. Claypool said the interviewing would not have happened without the Bulldogs in the Bluegrass program, which has placed one Yale student with Brown-Forman for each of the three summers.

Both Gates and Tucker plan to spend at least two years in Louisville before applying to graduate school programs, although Tucker, who is from Boston, said she would probably not live in Kentucky permanently.

But participants agreed that the program alerts students to Kentucky and other less-populated regions for settling after graduation.

“It has made people stop and consider that the East Coast or the West Coast are not the only places to work after graduation,” Graham said.

Claypool hopes to expand the program eventually to include other Ivy League schools.

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