Firms Lure Students With Freebies

Microsoft tries to woo with ‘Let’s Get Nerdy’ t-shirts

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Edward S. Segel ’06 and Ian B. McLean ’07 discuss summer internship possibilities at Bridgewater Associates with employee Kim Mattson at the Summer Opportunities Fair in the Gutman Library yesterday afternoon.

Luring students with emblem-covered playing cards, glowing balls, mugs, and mouse pads, representatives pitched their companies to prospective interns at the Summer Opportunities Fair yesterday in the Graduate School of Education’s Gutman Library.

Bain & Company tried to entice passing students with red plastic eggs full of silly putty, while Merrill Lynch handed out colorful dartboards. Microsoft staffers sported black t-shirts with the words “Let’s Get Nerdy” emblazoned on them. They distributed the shirts to everyone who visited their table.

Students have attended this fair each year, for the four years it has been running, in increasing numbers, according to Nancy Saunders, who coordinates summer opportunities for the Office of Career Services (OCS) and was an organizer of the event.

Although 24 of the opportunities displayed were financial in nature, 12 were community-service programs and 11 were programs for studying at home or abroad.

“We make this event open to any vendor who offers tangible summer opportunities for students. It’s on a first-come, first-serve basis—no preference on recruiting,” Saunders said. “We try to have a little bit of everything.”

The Institute of Politics pitched political and public-service internships abroad, while the Summer Institute in Art Museum Studies at Smith College boasted a new program that aims to teach students how art museums work. WorldTeach, which is based at the Kennedy School of Government, allows individuals to live and work as teachers in developing countries. At another table, the New England Aquarium offered a variety of internships dealing with animal husbandry—jobs that include feeding and cleaning the animals.

In spite of the diversity of vendors present, some students said they wanted to see more summer opportunities based in community service.

“I think it’s pretty awkward for people who aren’t that intense. It’s like being in a course section with all pre-meds,” Peter J. Martinez ’07 said.

Alice R.B. Cullina ’08 offered similar criticism. “I’ve been looking at everything that isn’t a bank,” she said. “I just want something that’s more community-oriented. It’d be ideal if I could make some money as well.”

The number of financial firms seemed to overpower the other options, according to Hayley J. Fink ’08.

“There’s always an overwhelming number of consulting companies,” she said.

Tim H. Zhou ’07, an applied math and economics major from China, said he was considering internships at a number of the financial companies present.

“It would be nice if, one day, I became an entrepreneur and took advantage of my connection to China and get involved in global business rather than something so specific,” he said.

Saunders said putting diverse companies in close quarters can encourage students to experiment with different job options.

“A student can have a conversation with a consultant and then turn around and learn about some community-service opportunity,” she said. “It allows us to develop a personal editing process, to tune out certain opportunities and pick up others.”