Soon after Dean Lynn Cooley took office in July, she announced her determination to “ease students’ transition to life after graduation by expanding career counseling and enhancing our engagement with alumni.” To forward that goal, the Graduate School has merged its Office of Graduate Career Services (GCS) with the Yale College career office to create the new Office of Career Strategy (OCS). OCS Director Jeanine Dames and her staff now provide career guidance and support to graduate students and alumni of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Under her leadership, the OCS has expanded its programs and resources and partnered with the Association of Yale Alumni to increase alumni connections with current students. OCS offers all the students it serves access to career databases and programs via Symplicity [yale-csm.symplicity.com/], a versatile web-based application used by more than 1000 universities to manage career services for their students.
The online resources available to graduate students 24/7 are “phenomenal,” Dames says. “Students can access what they need — resume advice, interactive interview practice, webinars — right from their computers, wherever and whenever they want.”
For those looking to work outside academia, OCS organizes career events and hosts some 70 to 80 recruiting programs a year that are open to graduate students. Dames has also scheduled new recruiting opportunities for potential employers, including industry-specific networking events. She has increased the support available to students interested in work in the public sector, performing arts, and global health.
While more graduate students are exploring careers outside academia, many still intend to pursue academic careers. To assist them, the academic job search series previously offered by GCS is indispensable. Dames worked closely with two other offices on campus this fall to present the twelve-part Academic Job Search series.
OCS will continue to offer new programs, too, “as we create our strategic vision and develop the best resources for graduate students,” she says.
Dames’s own career path has taken some interesting twists and turns. She initially wanted to be a veterinarian and studied animal science at Cornell as an undergraduate, but realized that medicine wasn’t right for her. (She keeps her love of animals alive with three dogs in the family, Apollo, Artemis and Atlas. “Thanks to my undergraduate degree, I have some of the best trained dogs in town,” she says.)
After Cornell, she enrolled at Fordham University’s School of Law, earned her JD in 2000, and practiced real estate and environmental law in New York and Connecticut.
“When I was practicing law, I became involved with my firm’s recruiting, and that just clicked for me,” she says. She then left private practice to pursue a profession in career services. Her first career services position was at Cardozo Law School in New York, and then at her alma mater, Fordham Law School.
In 2007, Dames came to Yale as senior associate director of the Career Development Office at the School of Management, where she worked with MBA students interested in management consulting, marketing, and media. After two years, she transitioned to Yale Law School, where she was director of career development and served as the primary career adviser for alumni.
In 2009, she joined what was then known as Undergraduate Career Services as the deputy director and was promoted to director in 2013. In that role, Dames oversaw the merger of the graduate and undergraduate career offices to form OCS.
“Yale students go on to do truly amazing things, and it is an incredible opportunity to have a small part in helping them along that path,” she says. “One of the biggest challenges is getting students to devote the necessary time to craft a thorough and complete job search, with all the other commitments they have. Conducting a job search is like taking another course or holding a part-time job. When students put in the time and achieve the career goals they set out for, I find it incredibly satisfying.”
She adds, “Working with graduate students is different from working with undergraduates in many ways. Many of our graduate students come to Yale with significant work experience, and most graduate students gain professional experience in the course of earning their PhDs. In addition, many graduate students have families and other outside obligations. Their career goals take those circumstances into account, whereas undergraduates are not yet at that point.”
Away from Yale, Dames spends significant time at the baseball field, which is the passion of her nine-year old son Brandon. Her husband Kevin, a middle school teacher in Connecticut (and also a former attorney), shares this passion and has coached the team for five seasons.
“I always believed age was a state of mind, but I am reminded of my age when I try to run down fly balls in the outfield with my son,” she says.