Zoe Berg, Senior Photographer
An aspiring program – run by alumni volunteers – helps first-generation and low-income students overcome the challenges they may face when entering academia and the professional world through internships, research positions and general advice.
The 1st General Yale The Summer Bulldogs program has successfully completed its third year and is already planning new additions for the upcoming summer.
Established in 2020, the 1stGenYale Summer Bulldogs program supports FGLI, first-generation and/or low-income students, in meaningful career exploration experiences, including creating access to jobs now and after graduation. The program matches FGLI Yale College students with employers called “sponsors”. Possible sponsors include Yale faculty, alumni, nonprofits, and for-profit companies.
When the program began in the summer of 2020, it paired six interns with their sponsor, Professor Daniel Markovits of Yale Law School. Now the The Summer Bulldogs program has grown the number of nonprofit sponsors and expanded faculty STEM research positions it previously offered. As of summer 2022, the program consisted of 99 students in 74 summer internship projects in the United States and abroad.
“From what I’ve seen, a quality internship can change a student’s life”, vice-president of 1stGenYale, Michael Watson ’81 said. “They get insight into what they want to do, what they don’t want to do. It can change their trajectory and it could change the future of their entire family as they become role models for younger siblings. They become role models for people in their neighborhood, in the schools they went to.
The Bulldog Summers program provides internships for students in a wide range of fields, including research, law, entrepreneurship, architecture and data analysis.
1stGenYale is a team of volunteers made up entirely of former students, many of whom were themselves FGLI students when they were in college. The team understands the uncertainty and confusion that current students go through when looking for an internship.
Lise Chapman ’81 MBA, President of 1stGenYale, said:[The program] create a bridge. We are creating a bridge and a network.
To build this bridge, 1st General Yale relies on alumni volunteers, donors, Yale’s Office of Career Strategy, or OCS, and Yale’s Office of Scholarships and Funding, or OFF.
Last summer, 1stGenYale Summer Bulldog Program interns have received a total of more than $500,000 in awards and scholarships through Yale’s Center for International and Professional Experience, or CIPE, with the help of its sponsors, alumni volunteers, donors and coordination with OCS and OFF.
“Through the 1stGenYale Summer Bulldogs, FGLI students can explore ‘real-world’ experiences in potential future career fields now,” said FGLI Vice President. 1stGenYale Barb Protacio ’81 wrote in an email to The News.
The 1stGenYale Experience
The News spoke to three former students about their experiences with the Bulldogs’ summer programs. The three students obtained internships last summer thanks to the program.
Satia Hatami ’25 worked as a summer project management intern for 1stGenYale. During the internship with 1stGenYale, the biggest and most impactful project she and two other intern students worked on was Scout.
Pathfinder acts as a four-year plan for Yale undergraduates. It has several tabs for different Google sheets, ranging from the guide points offer for each year to possible scholarships and awards. The sections offered are based on the advice and experience of current and former FGLI Yale students.
Hatami said that during her internship, she “developed a lot of soft skills like communicating more with people who actually work in industries like nonprofits.”
Jesse Roy ’24 worked as an intern at the Reagle Music Theater in Waltham, Massachusetts under godmother Linda Chin – Reagle’s former acting executive producer who works in the theater business.
Through the internship, Reagle provided Roy with a panoramic dive into several components of theater production that he had rarely studied from inside an organization, such as arts administration, creative design and choreography, set design, theater education and community outreach.
This internship guided Roy in his future professional activities in the field of inclusive and multigenerational musical theatre.
“This summer I grew as a team player, a mentor for children, and through osmosis and active participation, as an artist,” Roy wrote.
Josh Beale ’23 worked as an intern at the Yale School of Medicine under Annie Harper, a research associate in psychiatry.
Beale worked with the New Haven Debt Map Project to collect and interpret data on the impact of debt on the health and well-being of individuals in the greater New Haven area. The project seeks to understand the debt experiences of low-to-moderate income people living in New Haven by collecting the different types of debt individuals had, their stories of how they were acquired, and what they were doing to get out of debt.
“The impact of the program was to help me find the direction in which I wanted to continue,” Beale wrote in an email to the News. “Before my internship with the program, I was unsure if I wanted to focus my future research career in public health or biochemistry since I had interests in both areas. Afterwards, I had a much clearer picture of where I wanted to go with my life, and settled into biochemistry research.
The three students noted that the Summer Bulldogs program for FGLI students is crucial because students often don’t know where to start when they enter Yale.
Sponsors were also impressed with the abilities of the trainees.
One of the sponsors was the Honduras Children’s Project run by Yale professor of medicine Deborah Proctor. The mission of the non-profit association is to educate the 45 children who live at the Copprome orphanage in El Progreso, Honduras. Founded in 2011, the organization has 10 full-time employees at the orphanage.
Proctor wrote to the News that she spent the past summer working with two “incredible” interns. Its interns spent six weeks working in New Haven and two weeks working in Honduras.
The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey also hosted interns last summer – three of them.
The interns worked in several different departments. Watson, who is the Port Authority Employee Experience Advisor, pointed out that interns were able to travel to projects and do outreach for the Port Authority with outside organizations that they would not have had the time or resources to do, leaving an indelible impression.
“During the presentations, one of the managers said that these presentations were better than many high level managers they have seen over the years,” said Watson. “That’s the caliber of students.”
In addition to connecting sponsors and students, 1stGenYale also offers a webinar series. These webinars aim to help both students and sponsors, with video topics ranging from MMaking Career Choices and Taking Career Breaks at Planning to Thrive at Yale and Beyond.
For this coming year 2023 Bulldogs Summer Program, 1st General Yale plans to include more paid internships at for-profit companies in addition to internships at nonprofits and faculty.
The Summer Bulldogs program was founded in 2020 and is run entirely by volunteers.