According to a new report published by the Office of Career Strategy, more students flocked to paid internships last summer than in years past — but only a handful of these positions were in finance and consulting.
On Wednesday afternoon, OCS published a comprehensive report that detailed the research, internships and classes returning students pursued over the summer. The report, which was based on a survey disseminated to 4,254 returning students, concluded that the number of students working in paid internships last summer increased by 2.5 percent from the previous year’s figure. The report also noted that more students were involved in academic research than in any other employment area.
OCS director Jeanine Dames said that while the data are a good representation of the broad range of activities that Yalies pursue over the summer, the survey’s response rate was lower than that of the class of 2014 survey, making the data less conclusive.
“The one tricky thing about the summer list is that it’s definitely not an indication of all students,” Dames said. “Another difference between this and the class of 2014 data is that many students did more than one activity. So although we’re talking about 2,626 respondents, the number of summer activities was 3,155. Certain people may be counted in several categories.”
Still, the report noted that nearly a third of respondents pursued a paid internship over the summer. Meanwhile, 14.6 percent of respondents said they had research positions.
Although the number of students working in summer finance and consulting jobs grew slightly, they were only the fifth and seventh most popular employment choices, respectively.
Students interviewed said they were surprised by the relatively low number of students working in finance and consulting over the summer. After research, finance and consulting are the second and third most popular career paths for graduating students, according to the OCS Class of 2014 list.
Hannah Sachs ’17, who spent her summer in Spain for a language study, said this discrepancy is probably because many students who end up in finance and consulting after graduation did not originally intend to enter these fields.
“I think during college summers we are encouraged by our studies and peers to do a wide variety of exciting things related to our passions and interests,” Sachs said. “But unfortunately with the dismal job market, many end up gravitating towards potentially safer options in finance and consulting, even if they aren’t passionate about it.”
Of the summer activities reported in the United States, about 70 percent were located in Connecticut, New York, California, Washington, D.C., and Massachusetts.
Because summer positions are often located in larger cities, many students interviewed who sought paid internships said they searched for compensated positions in order to support themselves while away from home.
Laura Perdomo ’17, a student from Georgia who worked in a Denver biomedical research laboratory over the summer, said that although her internship was paid, she would have accepted a similar position so long as housing had been arranged.
“I looked for paid internships so I could spend my time comfortably in the location of the internship,” Perdomo said. “Honestly, I spent most of the money that I got paid by the end of the summer. Food, housing, travel and such gets pretty expensive.”
Perdomo added that she believes tuition and loans may play a role for other students who are seeking paid internships, although these costs did not factor into her own reasoning.
Siddhi Surana ’17, who took classes at Yale while working at a marketing company, said she originally wanted a paid position for the summer, though the position she secured was unpaid.
“I believe people leaned towards paid internships this summer due to financial reasons,” Surana said. “After spending a year in college, [freshmen] grew aware of the steep expenses related to purchasing books and school related items, as well as sustaining personal expenses.”
According to Dean of International and Professional Experience Jane Edwards, resources like the Summer 2014 Activities Report and Class of 2014 List have revolutionized the way in which students approach the employment process.
“We’ve only had the staff and technical capability and bandwidth to run these reports for the last couple of years,” Edwards said. “It’s changing everything. Having the data about what students are doing is so phenomenally helpful, not just to us in the work that we do, but it’s also great for students, who now know what other students are doing.”
2,626 students responded to the summer 2014 activities survey, registering a 61.7 percent response rate.