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Internships and the D-Plan

US News.jpgOne debate at the College that goes on at a low murmur concerns the merits of the Dartmouth Plan, particularly the educational dis/advantages of 10-week quarters versus 14-week semesters. That’s a discussion for another day, but we have commented in the past that the D-Plan allows the College’s two-season athletes to study abroad during a non-sports quarter, a benefit not enjoyed by semester-school students, where most athletes are permanently tied by training to their home campus.

Another advantage of the D-Plan is Dartmouth students’ ability to easily enlist in internships during an off-campus quarter. While students at other schools all chase the few available summer slots, the College’s students face less competition for internships during leave terms in the standard academic year. U.S. New & World Report noted this freedom, which led to our #3 ranking for students pursuing internships:

Internships.jpg

This year’s re-jiggered academic calendar might have a slight impact on students’ freedom to pursue off-campus options. In deciding to shut the campus from before Thanksgiving until after the New Year, the administration has by necessity compressed the the winter/spring, spring/summer and summer/fall breaks. I’d have moved in the other direction, ending the fall term in mid-December, and expanding the time between the three other quarters. There is much to be said for having time to re-charge one’s batteries.

That said, there are faculty members who are not opposed at all to the change. At semester schools, professors teach from September until May; for example, at Harvard, fall term this year starts on September 4 and ends on May 18, about eight and a half months. Under our new calendar, with a little planning a Dartmouth prof can teach from, say, January 7 until June 3 — a little under five months.

Addendum: The father of a current student writes in about internships:

I think the internship stats are quite astounding considering other areas where the college trails its Ivy peers. My daughter landed an internship at Amazon this winter which she is enjoying. The longer winter break allowed her to start on December 3 for a 14-week, rather than 12-week, internship. The down side for us is that she wasn’t able to spend the holidays with us. But isn’t that what Skype is for?

I did gain a little bit of insight into the process. She leveraged [computer science] Professor Tom Corman’s sophomore summer BBQ for computer science majors into some contacts at various companies. These contacts were mostly Dartmouth grads within the companies. After the introduction, the rest was up to her. Google didn’t work out, but after a 6-week process with Amazon she received a very lucrative internship offer. Did winter term availability enhance her chances? It’s hard to say, but I think it it did.

US News offers a quantitative analysis, but the qualitative aspects should not be overlooked. There is less competition for the plum internships during the regular academic year.

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