Yale isn’t selling corporations preferential access to its students, a study showed, bucking a growing trend of for-profit companies that partner with colleges to use their career services departments as third-party headhunters.
The study, published in January in the book series “Research in the Sociology of Organizations,” outlines a phenomenon in which colleges sell their services to companies looking to save on hiring costs, ranging from use of interviewing rooms on campus to better placement at career fairs. These programs, which could increase access to certain firms for many students, also raise an ethical question of whether universities should be promoting certain companies simply because they can pay for the privilege.
While corporate partnerships with career centers now exist at 33 of the 60 U.S. colleges in the Association of American Universities, they have no place at Yale, according to Office of Career Strategy Director Jeanine Dames. The schools with corporate partnerships include the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, New York University and the University of California, Berkeley.
“We do not do that, nor do we have any intention of doing that,” Dames said. “If only certain employers are able to get access through their funding then we’re not promoting leaders in all areas. I think it’s really important that we level the playing field.”
Dames condemned the practice for moral reasons, saying it would hinder OCS’s ability to give honest advice to students. This would especially impact nonprofits and other companies that may not be able to outbid larger firms for paid access to students, she said.
However, Daniel Davis, the study’s lead author and a Ph.D. candidate at the University of California, San Diego, said the partnerships began as a way to recreate the strong relationships that prestigious colleges like Yale have with large investment banks and consulting firms.
“They’ve sort of had them de facto for years, they just didn’t have a name for it,” Davis said.
Every fall, representatives from McKinsey & Company, Bain & Company and Citibank, among other firms, come to campus to hold recruiting events and interview students for summer and entry-level jobs.
According to the study, no Ivy League colleges use formalized corporate partnership programs, which are particularly prevalent on the West Coast and originated at Stanford in 2003. Davis told the News that they became popular in part because West Coast schools lacked the same ties to Wall Street that the Ivy League had long exploited.
At Yale, companies that recruit on campus pay only a nominal fee of $150 to cover the cost of networking events, Dames said. OCS then uses these funds to subsidize events for firms in the nonprofit and government sectors, as well as other programs related to those fields.
For-profit companies that wish to post job listings on OCS’s website go through a simple screening process and have to pay a $25 fee for each listing, which is waived for nonprofit and governmental organizations.
By contrast, companies typically pay several thousand dollars for their corporate partnership programs at other universities, Davis said.
Max Norman ’18, who has used OCS’s services to find summer jobs in the past, said he is opposed to companies paying for access to Yale students because it treats students as if they were commodities.
“That would suggest that we’re operating as a business,” Norman said. “I would be against the University making a profit off of its students.”
But Davis said such programs are part of an increasing trend of corporatization among American universities, in which individual departments, including those for career services, are under pressure to generate revenue to fund themselves.
Yale has not escaped the trend of corporatization: a News analysis in April revealed that staff structures at the University have become increasingly centralized and the administration has become more complex as a way to save money.
According to OCS’s 2015 First Destination Survey, 19.1 percent of the Yale class of 2015 took job offers in financial services, the largest percentage of any industry.