For students who are choosing between summer opportunities, Undergraduate Career Services has launched an online summer employment evaluation database that will remain open even after this year’s job-hunting season subsides.
Launched last week, the database is password protected and hosted by Symplicity — the online communication system between employers and students that replaced eRecruiting last summer. University administrators interviewed said it will serve as a portal where students can evaluate their prior summer experiences and search for reviewed internships or other opportunities.
“This database will be an opportunity for students to leverage the amazing experiences and insights of their classmates,” UCS director Jeanine Dames said. She added that students will be asked annually in the fall to evaluate their summer experiences even if these pursuits were not sponsored or available under UCS’s auspices.
While filling out the survey, students will also have the opportunity to provide their contact details so their peers can contact them directly if they have more questions. Dames said it is important for students to be candid in their evaluations, adding that she hopes this will be a resource students can turn to when they are choosing between two or more different opportunities.
Kenneth Koopmans, director of employment programs and deputy director of UCS, said reviews are helpful because internships that might appeal to one student may not be enjoyable or beneficial for another.
Even within the same industry, there are so many different types of internships, he said, adding that the survey asks students to discuss the culture of their office and the level of autonomy that they were afforded in their jobs.
“Sometimes the job description is vague or you might end up doing something other than what it says online,” Koopmans said, adding that this database will be a way for students to envision the structure and daily routine of the internship. The University wants to guarantee that every student’s internship will be a quality experience, he said, adding that no one can better testify to that experience than someone who has already gone through the process.
Some students — especially underclassmen — might benefit from having a regimented internship with lots of supervision, Dames said. But for other students, it might be optimal to be given the flexibility to set their own hours or projects with only light levels of guidance, she added.
Koopmans said the survey specifically asks students the type of projects they worked on as interns, the level of contact they had with their supervisors and what type of feedback they received throughout the summer.
Since hiring an IT specialist in the summer, Dames said the office has focused on harnessing the power of technology to improve the career services available to Yale students. Koopmans said this particular project has been an initiative that the University has worked on for eight months in conjunction with Symplicity.
“We actually had to build this into Symplicity in conjunction with the software designers,” he said, adding that this was something that would not have been technologically feasible with the old eRecruiting system.
Jane Edwards, dean of international and professional experience and Yale College senior associate dean, told the News in February that one of her aims as director of the center for international and professional experiences at Yale was to utilize technology to streamline services and make the center more efficient.
Dames said another priority of her tenure as director of UCS has been to unify the broader University community. She said she hopes to create a site similar to LinkedIn that will integrate the alumni and job databases of Yale College with those of the other graduate and professional schools.
Still, both Dames and Koopmans said the employer database will be accessible only to current undergraduates, in order to promote honest evaluations.
“The reason we can’t let alumni have access to these surveys is they could also be the employers being evaluated,” Koopmans said. “We don’t want students to feel as if supervisors will read this so they should just mention the positives of their experience.”
Although all students interviewed were appreciative of the new initiative, seven of the nine students either did not know about the database or had not yet used its services.
Kelly Wu ’16 said the database will be a useful resource, but only if students fill out the survey each year and thoroughly answer the questions. Emma Simon ’16 said she looked at the database but was disappointed by the lack of thorough answers. She added that more students with a diverse range of internship experiences will need to fill out the survey for it to become more helpful.
Shenil Dodhia ’14 said he wishes this service had been available last year when he was deciding between conducting research in New Haven or working for a local start-up. He added that if another Yale student had given positive reviews about the start-up before, he likely would have worked for the start-up full-time
“I just wasn’t willing to commit my junior summer to something that was unknown,” he said, adding that he ended up doing the start-up job part-time.
Jay Kim ’14 said she wishes the survey would ask more personal questions about the respondent’s academic background and career aspirations. She added that an internship that was well-reviewed by one student might not be a good fit for another student if they had different areas of academic and professional interest. Still, she said this database is a useful tool because it will give students exposure to internships and companies that do not have affiliations with UCS.
Koopmans said he thinks more students will give their own feedback and complete the surveys as they begin to use the database for their own job hunts.
There are 1,160 internships and other opportunities with summer evaluations on Symplicity.