More than 200 students obtained internships this summer through BrownConnect, the internship and networking site launched last year, according to a survey by the Center for Careers and Life After Brown. This marks a significant increase from the 90 hires that occurred during BrownConnect’s pilot phase the previous year, said Aixa Kidd, director of BrownConnect.
In addition to letting students search for internships and research positions, the site also features an extensive list of alumni that can be sorted by field or location. Students reached out to alums 3,674 times, who responded more than three-quarters of the time, according to the CareerLAB survey.
Katelynn Pan ’18 praised her experience using BrownConnect to secure an internship this summer at Mt. Sinai Hospital’s Preventive Medicine Department in East Harlem, New York. As part of her internship, she helped with the hospital’s “Cyclopedia” program, which encourages urban adolescents to ride bicycles and contribute to their communities.
Pan said the BrownConnect site had an easy-to-use interface and listed many appealing opportunities. But she added that she wished she could have signed up to receive email notifications “whenever a job opened up.”
But Sophie Mateu ’16 decided to discontinue the unpaid internship she found through BrownConnect two weeks after her start date. She ultimately pursued a paid internship with NBC in France that she did not find through BrownConnect.
Mateu criticized the site for not providing enough internships that pertained to her interest in media. But she expressed satisfaction with the high response rate of employers whom she contacted through BrownConnect. “I get a huge success rate of at least hearing back from (internships) through Brown Connect,” she said, adding that when she sends resumes to organizations she finds without BrownConnect, she does not hear back as often.
CareerLAB plans to address some issues that arose with the first version of the site with BrownConnect 2.0, Kidd said. One issue that emerged was that students who could only find jobs overseas were often “hit with high percentages of taxes” when they returned to the U.S., she said.
Another issue involves funding, as only 60 percent of all internships and 78 percent of full-time internships obtained through BrownConnect have been paid, Kidd said. CareerLAB will seek to increase the percentage of paid internships that students obtain from BrownConnect 2.0, she said. “Other departments are offering great internship funding for our students, but it’s not feeding into BrownConnect,” she added.
For the upcoming summer, Kidd also emphasized procuring quality internships over a larger number of opportunities. With this goal in mind, CareerLAB hopes to amass more “Bruno opportunities,” which directly connect students to alums and parents.
“We think that students benefit from having an internship that might have a connection to an alum or a parent,” said Matthew Donato, director of CareerLAB. “Brown students can be more competitive for those positions because alumni or parents will preference Brown students.”
In addition, CareerLAB will look to feature more high-quality STEM internships, especially in engineering. Due to student interest, planning is also underway for increasing the number of job opportunities in its programs Careers in the Common Good and iProv, which both focus on providing students with internships at nonprofits, Kidd said.