Hedy Tung, Photo Editor

With the summer now in the rearview, Yale’s Office of Career Services, or OCS, has evaluated how students spent their time away from school.

OCS released their annual student summer jobs report Oct. 8. The office found that of the undergraduate population who responded to its survey, 31.6 percent served in paid internship positions and 13 percent conducted laboratory research. Both of these numbers were the highest rates OCS has ever observed.

According to Jeanine Dames, director of the Office of Career Strategy, the figures can be traced to the COVID-19 pandemic, as public health precautions have limited study abroad opportunities. Previously about a quarter of Yalies studied abroad each summer, but 2021 saw just 2 percent of Bulldogs venture overseas.

“A whole bucket was missing with study abroad,” Dames told the News. “Without a whole bucket, the market was still able to absorb those students into other categories, they got to do other things.”

Still, Dames said she expects these patterns to revert once study abroad is available again.  Pent-up demand, she claimed, will drive more students overseas and invert the typical study abroad to internship summer experiences, with more students now working before they travel.

Yale’s Director of Study Abroad Kelly McLaughlin elaborated on Dames’s prediction.

“Our expectation is that this might be a transitional year, which means we are likely to see some resumption of study abroad, but it remains unclear as of today how complete that resumption might be,” McLaughlin wrote in an email to the News.

McLaughlin said that the fate of study abroad relies on the development of the COVID-19 pandemic — the best-case scenario being that the virus disappears and study abroad resumes as usual, and the worst-case scenario featuring a complete cessation in international programming. Study abroad opportunities will also depend on the travel policies of other nations, McLaughlin added.

Stephan Billingslea Durini ’23 worked as a paid intern at a consulting firm this summer, splitting time between New York, New Haven and client bases. Though he did not study abroad, he said that COVID-19 travel restrictions altered his work experience.

“Due to COVID-19, travel and client interaction were limited,” Billingslea Durini said. “Splitting time between remote and in-person work allowed me to realize the extent to which mentorship changes positively when working in the same room as my colleagues.”

Billingslea, who is from Guatemala and worked remotely from home for part of the summer, represented another trend from this report. This summer, students worked from 73 different nations, the highest number the office has seen since the report’s inception. With pandemic-related travel restrictions, Dames explained, more international students remained in their home country for the summer, instead of working in the U.S.

The jobs survey, which was open from late July through the end of September, saw fewer respondents than usual. Only 70.4 percent of students submitted answers to the questionnaire, though the number usually hovers in the low 80s. Dames attributed part of this decline to confusion over whether students coming out of gap years needed to fill out the form.

Dames said the summer jobs report is essential for career advising. When she came to OCS in 2013, Dames pushed to start the report. She previously worked as a lawyer and at the Yale Law School, where she said job experience is important data for maintaining accreditation.

“We want to identify what are the need areas and figure out what is helpful for students,” she told the News. 

Thanks to the student jobs report, OCS discovered that students had to turn down certain professional offers due to a lack of funding. This finding led to the 2017 creation of the Domestic Summer Award — now called the Summer Experience Award — which helps pay for student summer jobs.

The Yale Office of Career Strategy is located at 55 Whitney Ave.

Jordan Fitzgerald edits for WKND and writes about admissions, financial aid & alumni. She is a junior in Trumbull College majoring in American history.