HOW SOME YALE STUDENTS ARE HELPING CLASSMATES FIND INTERNSHIPS
— Trinh Truong, SY 2019
Director of Nonprofit Outreach, Generation Do It
Like many others, we were shocked when Yale shut down operations and transitioned to online learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Before we knew that the rest of the country would follow suit in taking these measures to protect public health, we packed up our belongings and dispersed across the globe. We returned to our homes if we could reach them, trying to understand how we could help as our entire country marshaled compassion and brainpower to fight COVID-19.
As college students and recent alumni, we aren’t exactly doctors, first-responders, or essential workers yet, but we had a desire to help. We knew many students’ summer plans had been canceled due to COVID-19, but that they still desired opportunities to continue developing their skills and knowledge.
To better understand the problem, co-founders Davi Sila SY ‘20 and Felipe Pires ES ‘20 sent out an independent survey to Yale College students in March, asking them about the state of their summer plans, their optimism for finding alternatives, and what sort of opportunities they would now consider. Over 750 students have responded to date, revealing that over 90% of students have had their plans altered by COVID-19. Of those students, 75% were still actively searching for opportunities. Students were split between relying on personal connections (54%), blindly emailing organizations (52%), searching LinkedIn (36%), and contacting Yale Office of Career Services (49%) to find other plans. Even with these resources, 47% remained unconfident about finding other summer plans. This is highly concerning, as current college students and recent graduates fear that a recession is just around the corner. In one-on-one student interviews conducted by our team, with students from colleges all over the country, many students worried that forgoing a summer opportunity would be a setback as they applied for post-graduate jobs and programs.
Our team also conducted extensive interviews with nonprofits, startups, and research labs to see if remote work was possible and available. Many expressed to us their willingness to accept remote interns, and told us about the biggest challenges they now face. Common problems among them included shifting to online service delivery, adapting technologies, and rethinking student recruitment and onboarding. We found that while the new operational challenges have emerged, opportunities for interns have not vanished. There is still a place for students to help.
With this in mind, we created Generation Do It. Our goal is to connect talented college students who have had their summer plans canceled with remote internships and work opportunities. Our process is simple: students fill out a quick form with their basic information, skills, and interests while our partner organizations upload available positions and projects. From there, we match qualified students with a variety of opportunities best suited for them and make introductions. By streamlining this process, we save time for both students and partners.
Hundreds of students are already using our platform, and we have found dozens of matches for nonprofits and startups. We’re hoping to expand our network to ensure that every student who seeks an opportunity this summer matches with one. We’re currently working on expanding access to our initiative to college students beyond the Yale network, and are actively looking for more partnerships. Seventy-five percent of students who responded to our survey wanted to prioritize nonprofit work, so we are very enthusiastic to work with nonprofits.