Just four months ago, Amanda Farrell ’16 was a peer liaison and a freshman counselor in Calhoun College, eating in Yale’s dining halls, attending classes and occasionally reading the News.
Now that she’s graduated, Farrell still reads the News, but she does it at her desk in Woodbridge Hall in preparation for her daily briefing with Secretary and Vice President for Student Life Kimberly Goff-Crews.
Farrell is one of 39 members of the class of 2016 who occupy a variety of professional roles at Yale, including at the Center for Clinical Investigation, the Investments Office, the Office of Undergraduate Admissions and more than a dozen other University departments, according to preliminary survey data from the Office of Career Strategy. Farrell works for the Office of the Secretary and Vice President for Student Life as a Woodbridge Fellow, a one-year position created to give recent Yale graduates exposure to the inner workings of a university.
“They want us to look at everything we do with the insight of a recent student,” Farrell said. “We get asked for advice on any kinds of new projects the University is working on.”
Her career path isn’t uncommon: Yale has been the top employer for graduating seniors every year since 2013, when the Office of Career Strategy began collecting data on what students were doing after graduation.
And as these 39 students adjust to professional life in the place where they used to study, several themes arise that link their experiences: an inside look at Yale, the community a university provides and the chance to explore a familiar city through a new lens.
Daniel Hwang ’16, who works in the Finance Office, said learning about the administrative decisions made at Yale and financial factors that drive them has changed the way he sees the college. Likewise, Farrell said she has developed a new appreciation for the many University administrators who work outside of the spotlight.
Grant Bronsdon ’16, a former Sports editor for the News who now works in the Admissions Office, said Yale was a great place to transition from student to young professional given that employees are still a part of the Yale community.
“I like being on campus and being able to enjoy the campus environment, while still having a life and a career that is separate from being an undergrad,” Bronsdon said.
Bronsdon added that he is now able to explore New Haven and its surrounding area much more, since many of his coworkers have cars and take day-trips to nearby towns like North Haven.
Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Jeremiah Quinlan said his office, which is known for hiring recent Yale graduates, benefits from having younger employees with intimate knowledge of current campus life.
“They can just do such a great job talking about their Yale experience, and reflecting on that experience to help better inform the admissions process,” Quinlan said.
The recent graduates differ in their engagement with undergraduates. Bronsdon has younger friends who remain on campus, some of whom he lives with, and he often has dinner around New Haven with his friends who are still students. He also remains active in residential college life: Apart from his work in the Admissions Office, Bronsdon mentors two freshmen in Ezra Stiles.
Farrell, however, chooses to keep her distance from the residential colleges and other student-dominated spaces, though she said it’s only to keep herself from growing nostalgic and to create a Yale experience separate from the one she had as an undergraduate.
Hwang said the timing of professional life keeps him from interacting from more students.
“It’s an interesting code switch,” Hwang said. “I’m up and biking to work earlier than most students are waking up, and getting back from work at a time most students are at dinner, so I don’t see students very much.”
Like Bronsdon, Hwang still keeps in touch with friends who are still at Yale, but he said lack of access to the residential colleges and dining halls makes interacting with students harder, since that’s where most students take a break from their schedules to socialize.
Though some new Yale employees felt they had an inside look at the workings of the University, they also have less access to Yale in certain ways, foregoing the privileges that undergraduates take for granted.
“The biggest thing that’s strange is when all the benefits of being a student are swiftly yanked away, like gym access, swipe access to just about all the buildings and dining halls,” Hwang said.