New Haven Promise connects local students with paid Yale internships
“Internships are a gateway to employment for a lot of students nowadays,” says Patricia Melton ’83 B.A., president of New Haven Promise, a scholarship and support program for students who have attended the public schools in New Haven, Conn. “A lot of those are unpaid and therefore inaccessible to students of certain economic backgrounds,” she adds.
This is why for the past five years Promise has also been connecting scholarship recipients with paid summer internships at Yale and other New Haven-based organizations. Melton says Promise has already been getting positive feedback from students who’ve attributed their later success getting hired into full-time roles to their participation in the summer internship program.
Promise scholarships cover up to full college tuition for students who’ve attended New Haven Public Schools during some or all of their K-12 years, and the organization also provides scholarship recipients with advice, mentorship, career skill workshops, and connections to paid summer internships in New Haven — many of which are based at Yale. This summer, Yale hosted about 100 Promise summer interns at offices across the university, with placements ranging from the School of Medicine to the Yale Center for British Art. Yale is also the primary funder of the Promise scholarships, notes Melton.
While Promise is certainly a college access program, says Melton, at its heart, it’s an economic development program. “It’s really important that our scholars not only get to college, but they get through college very successfully and have the experiences necessary to launch their careers back in the city,” she explains.
Promise wants to keep students connected to New Haven and hopefully bring their talents back to the city upon their graduation from college, Melton says, adding that shortly after she took the helm at Promise in 2012, she realized that they needed to create internship and career development programs too.
In 2014, Promise launched its paid internship program, which coordinated nicely with Yale’s 2012 launch of the New Haven Community Hiring Initiative. Under the leadership of director Chris Brown, the New Haven Community Hiring Initiative helps talented members of the New Haven community find jobs at Yale. The Hiring Initiative has become a key partner for Promise.
“Over the past five years, we have hired over 300 New Haven Promise interns into positions in over 32 departments across campus,” said Brown in an interview last fall with YaleNews. “New Haven Promise is our newest and best pipeline for hiring New Haven residents.” He added that in summer 2018, Yale hosted 94 Promise interns, and within the first three weeks of their summer internships, at least two of them were offered full-time jobs at Yale.
Edgar Cervantes is one of those recent hires. A 2018 graduate of the University of Connecticut (UConn), Cervantes began his first full time job this winter at the Yale University Information Technology Services (ITS) Helpdesk, where he fields incoming requests from faculty and staff for assistance with everything from software downloads to managing institutional email accounts. But this is not Cervantes’ first experience working at Yale.
Raised in New Haven, Cervantes attended Hill Regional Career High School where he was a student in the technology track. By the time he graduated from UConn, he had held at least three paid summer and term-time internships at Yale, thanks to connections made by Promise.
“I owe everything to Promise basically,” says Cervantes. “Both how they helped financially and how they opened the doors with different connections at Yale.” He says the connections Promise summer internships gave him with Yale coworkers and hiring managers were invaluable when it came time to apply for a full-time job at the university.
Cervantes adds that the resume workshop Promise offers was also “a big help.” “Apart from teaching you how to structure your resume, we actually had to meet with the people from HR, so they got to stick a face to the resume,” he says. “And then, as I eventually found out, one of the people I spoke with handled my application.”
Besides his welcoming and supportive colleagues, Cervantes says the best part of his new job with ITS is “being able to help the community.” “When they reach out either through call or e-mail, you know they can get their issue resolved,” he explains.
Helping others was a rewarding part of Bryana Kilpatrick’s summer at ITS too. Kilpatrick, an engineering and physics major at UConn, was on the development side of ITS this summer as a Promise intern. This is Kilpatrick’s second Promise internship and second summer in ITS. She credits Promise with taking the burden off her financially in regards not only to covering college tuition but also helping her find a summer job.
“With New Haven Promise giving us this resource, it was one of the best things ever,” says Kilpatrick. “It means a lot that we’re able to get this head start in the work field and know what it feels like to actually have a professional job in IT.”
Kilpatrick spent part of her summer developing an application for streamlining an essential and frequent aspect of administrative data entry — tracking Yale employee purchasing card (p-card) use. The p-card form, the app she created, is already up and running, making a cumbersome task much easier.
“The p-card form is something employees will use within Yale when they want to use the company card,” Kilpatrick explains. “Before it was done by email, so it was hard to keep up with who wanted to use the card and what they wanted to do with it. Now with the p-card form, everything goes straight to an Excel sheet.” This means administrators no longer have to scramble through all these different emails to get the information they need, says Kilpatrick.
“It feels great knowing that I was able to make someone else’s job easier, and it just feels great knowing that what they’re using is something I created,” she adds.
This summer was also Malik Harris’ second at Yale. He interned with the Yale School of Architecture, where he assisted with communications. A digital media and design major at UConn, Harris graduated in May 2019. He says he’s interested in “a little bit of everything digital,” including graphic design and video production.
Like Kilpatrick and Cervantes, Harris says he appreciates the opportunities New Haven Promise has afforded him. “There are many different Promise programs around the country, but New Haven Promise is the only one that has the internship program,” says Harris. “I’m really thankful to be a part of that because finding a job is difficult and getting internships can be hard too.”
At the School of Architecture, he has been able to apply many of the skills he acquired during his undergraduate study at UConn. “I’ve had experience with video editing and Photoshopping,” says Harris. “But it’s nice to be able to use it for something real — to see my photos that I edited go up on the School of Architecture Facebook page and things like that.”
Harris says he thinks Yale is doing a great thing by hiring people who’ve grown up or lived in New Haven, and returned to the city after college graduation.
“Yale is definitely not only helping us, but they’re helping themselves too,” he says. “There’s so many of us who majored in so many different majors, from art to business to health. They’re getting workers who are more than qualified for all their positions, which can help the university move forward and do great things.”
To learn more about Promise, including eligibility criteria for the scholarship, visit the New Haven Promise website. Applications for current high school seniors are due Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.