Arina Bykadorova ’18, a mechanical engineering major, sent out more than 20 resumes to different companies in New York City last spring. She received only one reply.
She ended up at Con Edison, an internship that she had found with almost no help from the Yale Office of Career Strategy. She had perused the OCS website during the application season, finding few jobs that matched her interests. She applied for one job that was writing-oriented, but she ended up turning it down. She felt that Symplicity, the website that OCS uses to post job and internship openings, did not have much to offer her and her fellow engineers.
“I think it would be great if there were more opportunities for mechanical engineers especially since anyone who is younger than a junior or senior year finds it difficult to get an engineering job unless they have a really strong recommendation,” Bykadorova said, adding that submitting applications on her own made her wish there were Yale connections to help her.
Associate Director of OCS Brian Frenette said that over the past several years he has heard concerns from engineering students who feel that OCS offers them little by way of internship opportunities. But he also said that OCS has tried, especially this year, to facilitate more connections between Yale and engineering companies, with the aim of increasing job placement in those organizations. According to the preliminary results of the class of 2015 Final Destination Survey, 11 percent of graduates said they were working in the technology sector, making this the first year that tech has been one of the top five industries in which Yale alumni work.
Similar to Bykadorova, Dante Archangeli ’17, a mechanical engineering major, said he found “very little, maybe nothing” posted on Symplicity that had to do with actual engineering. Instead, he found listings related to consulting and coding.
“The best way it seems you can get an engineering internship through Yale is to keep your ears [open] for when a company is coming by and speaking with their reps, or getting an in through a professor,” Archangeli said, adding that landing an internship through a professor is unlikely because most have backgrounds in research and not industry.
Marcie Tran ’17 agreed with Archangeli that the only real engineering jobs offered on Symplicity were software engineering jobs. While she thinks Yale does a good job bringing companies to campus for information sessions, the University’s online resources are not up to par.
OCS’s move to increase the number of engineering internships has yet to be felt by the student body, Frenette said, adding that he “empathizes with their frustrations.” But OCS has faced more problems working with the engineering industry than with other industries, he added.
According to Frenette, most engineering companies have historically offered internships based on the co-op program method, an internship which lasts from six to nine months — an employment period that is not feasible for the average Yale student. In response, OCS has had to work with those companies to adapt the model to accommodate Yale students.
Moreover, large engineering companies like Aviya Aerospace Systems do not need to rely on recruitment techniques of posting to University sites because they are prestigious enough to attract applicants through their own website, Frenette said. They are stuck in a very “traditional” recruitment style in which they target larger tech schools, where they are more likely to find their recruits, he added.
On Sept. 29, OCS will host an engineering panel with 16 different large tech companies, such as Alcoa Inc., Duracell, Ancera and the U.S Airforce. Meanwhile, 21 companies will appear at OCS’s software engineering event later this fall. Despite this disparity, Frenette said there has been improvement — only nine companies were present at the engineering panel in 2013.
According to the 2014 First Destination Survey, 7.3 percent of Yalies declared that they were working in tech.