Finding a job in the real world can be a scary thought, but some students at Yale are ahead of the curve. Not just with summer internships, but with real jobs — those that do not involve checking out library books or distributing table tents. They have found employment outside of Yale while everyone else is studying in Bass, filling out their CIE accounts or submitting their applications for Bulldogs Across America.
Christopher LoPresti ’12 never even filled out an application. He started his own company, MMCL Group, LLC, along with his brother. LoPresti’s first endeavor has been the creation of the Insider’s Access Pass, a product to be sold in major cities that consolidates access to participating attractions, including museums, zoos, aquariums, etc. According to LoPresti, the product is “still in the development stage,” but he has secured investments and approval from various institutions in the cities where he plans to offer the pass. LoPresti has been working on this product since his sophomore year, putting in countless hours of planning, traveling and research. Currently, he estimates that he spends about 20 hours a week dealing with MMCL work.
Some students don’t want to be entrepreneurs; they just want to gain experience and add a couple of bullet points to their resumes. That is not to say that students with off-campus jobs don’t like their work.
Some students are actually able to do exactly what they want. As of this spring, Maggie Tsang ’11 works for Plan B Architecture and Urbanism, a New Haven-based architecture firm co-founded by School of Architecture Assistant Dean Bimal Mendis. Tsang is an architecture major and plans to pursue a career in architecture after graduating. However, it seems that she couldn’t wait to graduate before getting a job. She had expressed interest in doing research, and her professor ended up offering her a job based on her work in the class.
“I didn’t have to apply. My professor knew my work and my work ethic,” she said.
20 HOURS IS NOTHING
Last semester, Sloane Heller ’12 took the train into Manhattan every Monday and Friday to work for an Alzheimer’s research project funded by New York University. She has been an integral part of a study at the NYU Center of Excellence on Brain Aging since her senior year of high school, but her frequent visits to New York City translated into a hectic class schedule from Tuesday to Thursday.
“Every second I wasn’t in New York, I was in class,” she said. “The only people I saw at Yale were my boyfriend and my suitemates. Sometimes I would get lunch with a friend. That was exciting.”
Even though Heller insists she loves her job despite the lack of free time, she isn’t traveling into the city as often this semester.
“I can’t do that again,” she said. “This semester I’m only working twice a month.”
Like Heller, Maria Yagoda ’12 sought employment in New York City. The university was unable to offer her a job that she thought was worthwhile, so she settled for a job with Oprah.
Excuse me, Miss Winfrey.
“If she calls, I’m supposed to refer to her as Miss Winfrey, you know, because we’re not on a first-name basis,” Yagoda explained.
But Yagoda has not met the boss yet. In fact, she started working for Oprah Magazine last week.
According to Yagoda, it has not been hard to acclimate to her new schedule. She commutes to New York on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and only has class on Mondays and Wednesdays. Sounds a lot like Heller’s experience, but Yagoda doesn’t seem stressed out yet.
“I get bored easily, so this job will hopefully keep me focused,” she said.
NYU may one-up Yale on being the most fauxhemian, artsy school in the country, and Oprah Magazine might be cooler than Vita Bella! — but what’s wrong with working at Yale?
“I did help out at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit at Yale,” said Heller, “but they don’t run caregiver studies, like the one I’m working on now.” She has been working at NYU for almost three years, and has learned specific skills that she does not want to waste. Although she enjoyed working at Yale, she didn’t have time to do both last semester, and chose to continue working at NYU.
Not all Yalies are willing to sacrifice two days a week to ensure the future of their unborn children. More commonly, Yalies just can’t find an on-campus job.
Spencer Cromwell ’12 applied for multiple on-campus jobs but failed to get hired. By chance, he received an e-mail from a friend about a local community chorus that was offering a paid job for an assistant conductor. Cromwell, a psychology major and the Jonathan Edwards College Philarmonic music director, jumped at the opportunity.
“I had never even heard of the organization before,” he said, “but it has ended up being a really great experience.” Cromwell has worked with various on-campus groups as a conductor but actually finds that working with non-students is a nice change of environment, and “more fun.” Cromwell said he enjoys the enthusiasm and passion of the choir members. The fact that he gets paid is also a bonus.
“It’s great to get paid for work you would do for free,” he said.
And then there’s Gina Choe ’13, who currently works at Blue State Coffee on Wall Street. Choe feels the same way. She used to study at Blue State every day and ended up getting to know the employees. One day, they told her they were looking for more people to work, so Choe decided to apply. She has been working two eight-hour shifs a week since last May, which she said “can be annoying.”
“Sometimes there are events that I want to go to but can’t because of my work schedule,” she said. On the plus side, this has made the rest of her schedule more organized. Knowing that she has to work an eight-hour shift forces her to plan ahead, she said.
BUT IS IT WORTH IT?
Although LoPresti does not have to commute weekly, he still admits his job is “difficult to juggle with everything else.” Still, he said it is something he loves doing and wants to pursue after graduation.
What, sell discounted zoo tickets? No, LoPresti wants to become a “serial entrepreneur.”
“I want to come up with an idea for a company, build it up, see it through, and then move on to something else,” he said.
Yagoda is also excited about her job and its future benefits. She gets to pitch, write and research articles, in addition to the occassional “bitch work,” she said. At the magazine she works from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., but as an aspiring publisher, she is excited to get the experience of working in an a real publishing environment. She plans on working in publishing when she graduates.
“It doesn’t matter what you got in chemistry, or where you went to school, but that you have pieces published and you have experience working at magazines,” she explained.
Tsang likes working in the real world too. She likes the sense of urgency at a real architecture firm. Most people call that stress, but Tsang calls it learning.
“You take classes about this stuff, but now I actually have to work with a budget, and clients.”
Even Choe, who does not plan to be a barista after Yale, truly enjoys her work. She didn’t have a job before, and says that it really isn’t about the money. Choe describes working at Blue State as an “escape” from being a student.
“I don’t have to think about the future, it’s like a break from everything,” she said. “I just have to pour a cup of coffee.”