Center for International and Professional Experience

First years enjoyed popcorn in front of a projector screen on Old Campus on Tuesday night, but instead of watching a movie, they learned about different travel and funding opportunities for their first summer as Yale students.

On Oct. 1, Yale’s Center for International and Professional Experience hosted a movie-themed outreach night to introduce first-years and sophomores to the center’s resources and funding opportunities. During the event, student ambassadors, primarily upperclassmen, took turns speaking about their personal experiences through CIPE, projecting slideshow compilations of their research and travel.

“We wanted to have an event that targets especially first year … and sophomore students to talk about CIPE and let them know all the opportunities available for them through our four units: Fellowships, Career Strategies, Yale Summer Session, and Study Abroad,” said CIPE Assistant Director Lauren Perrino, who was an event organizer.

Circulated on Facebook as a “quadruple feature on the big screen,” the event was the first of its kind, according to Perrino. The center has traditionally organized on-campus recruiting, professional and study abroad experiences and networking events — all accessible to undergraduates through the Career Link online portal.

Somto Okereke ’20, an outreach coordinator at CIPE, kicked off the student presentations. He described how his interest in social development in Sub-Saharan Africa led him to discover Yale programs in Ghana and Morocco. Okereke received fellowship funding to work with the Global Environment & Technology Foundation, tackling the issue of water sustainability in Ghana through microinsurance strategies.

While around a dozen students arrived as the event began, curious onlookers walking through Phelps Gate approached the CIPE booth throughout the evening. The students in attendance were almost matched in number by the student coordinators and CIPE staff, eager to answer questions and offer advice.

“I feel like my first summer is the only time I get to do something like study abroad, because by junior and senior year I’ll be looking at research and internship opportunities,” said Vaibhav Sharma ’23. “That’s why I decided to drop by to get some information.”

Will Cooke ’21, a Global Affairs and East Asian Studies major, said that the opportunity to study Chinese through the Richard U. Light Fellowship was one of the primary reasons he was drawn to Yale. Since the program’s inception in 1996, the Light Fellowship has provided funding for over 2,000 students to study East Asian languages abroad in summer or term sessions.

Perrino said that the CIPE office chose deliberately to promote the event on Old Campus — just outside the entryways of many first-year students’ dorms. CIPE staff were inspired by previous informational sessions held during sophomore advising nights at different residential colleges, but wanted to increase the visibility of the events for first years, who may not have established concrete professional or personal goals.

“We plan events that are more central to get the word out specifically about fellowships, which people don’t do as often as they should,” said Okereke.

Perrino added that the center usually holds events in classroom-settings like Linsly Chittenden Hall. Typically, these are “more formal presentations.” By contrast, Tuesday’s event, first conceived by CIPE outreach staff in July, was intended to be more student-focused, providing first-years an opportunity to talk casually with student ambassadors throughout the night.

Okereke explained that many first-years are unfamiliar with the range of academic and career support CIPE offers.

“I certainly wasn’t aware of the Fellowships Office when I first arrived,” he said.

The Center for International and Professional Experience is located at 55 Whitney Ave.

Emily Tian |