Due to staff shortages and an unusually high scheduling demand, Undergraduate Career Services is booked through late February, leaving students who are seeking career and internship guidance unable to set up appointments before application deadlines.

UCS Director Philip Jones said the bottleneck can be partly attributed to an increase in travel among UCS staff, which has two fewer members this year than last. Several students said they are concerned about the service’s resulting inaccessibility, but others said they have been comfortable turning to other resources for support in the application process.

Jones said that although Career Services has been particularly congested this year, January and February are generally busy months.

“Typically, one of the biggest peaks is right now, as internship recruiting is in full swing for all underclassmen,” Jones said in an e-mail. “Seniors are applying for jobs, law schools are making their decisions, and the medical school process is getting underway … What is different this year is that we have two unfilled positions on the staff, meaning that the overall number of scheduled appointments is less than it has been in the past. It’s also the case that I, and other members of my staff, have been traveling more this year.”

Jones also said a considerable portion of time slots are devoted to medical school applicants, whose needs are more immediate because of approaching deadlines. But soon, most of these appointment openings will be re-released for more general use, he said, creating more opportunities for students with later deadlines to get advice.

“The next two weeks will be particularly heavy, but students should start to see an improvement in availability from the middle of February onwards,” he said.

As part of an effort to counteract the shortages, Jones said, UCS is increasing its open hours. Offered from noon to 5 p.m. on weekdays during the academic year, open hours give students the opportunity to meet with UCS counselors to work on resumes and cover letters or narrow down internship options, Jones said.

But some students said getting a chance to speak to a counselor during open hours can be difficult.

Josh Batson ’08 said he called UCS after winter break to book an appointment, but because the next available slot was in late February and his summer internship application deadlines were in January, UCS directed him to open hours. But when Batson tried to meet with a counselor on a weekday at about noon, there were no openings.

“People had signed up at 8:30 in the morning for all the afternoon spots,” Batson said.

With deadlines approaching, Batson said he then turned to other UCS resources. But he said he was disappointed, because they failed to offer the individual attention and support he was looking for, so he contacted the International Education and Fellowships Program office.

“I was able to use the [UCS] e-recruiting database, but I wanted more guidance and direction,” Batson said. “There was no good substitute [for meeting with a counselor]. In contrast, the IEFP office was much easier to get into and they were very helpful.”

Jones said he is aware that UCS’ open hours, Web site and job presentations are not a perfect substitute for face-to-face meetings.

“I recognize and regret the inconvenience to the students,” he said. “I understand that these tools do not replace the experience of meeting with a counselor for a scheduled individual session.”

He said students should be aware that this year’s overflow comes in part because UCS staffers are busy at work on making the services more expansive and innovative, creating new internship opportunities in the United States and abroad. Jones is currently in Athens, Greece, as part of an international tour, he said, that will culminate in more than 20 new placements for Yalies.

Other students said they have found UCS helpful, but that students should not feel they are at a significant disadvantage when appointments are unavailable, because other resources exist.

Bert Ferrara ’07, who went through an investment banking interview process last year, said he found UCS to be “fairly flexible” and accommodating to his busy schedule as a varsity football player. Ferrara said he met with a counselor and found it useful, but not essential to the internship process.

“Everyone knows what banks there are, but UCS helps with applying,” Ferrara said. “UCS didn’t really coach me on interviews, so I just asked around … UCS helps because firms have a habit of recruiting at Yale, so in that respect it helps because it gives you a way in, but it doesn’t necessarily get you a penthouse on Park Avenue.”

Jessica Tanenbaum ’06, a history of science, history of medicine major interested in science writing, said she has chosen not to use UCS resources because she is not sure that she can articulate her interests to UCS counselors, and fears that they would not be helpful to students who lack a clear vision for their career path.

“I’m not sure that they’d know what to do with me or I to do with them,” she said. “I Googled internships and that actually worked pretty well.”

UCS has recently expanded its Bulldogs internship programs, which have also been extended to Brussels and Peru this year. The number of internship opportunities through these programs will double from last year to 170 spots.