2024 CAPD FAQs for Family & Supporters

During Campus Preview Weekend 2024’s Parent Programming, members of the CAPD staff shared information with parents and supporters. View the recording and access the presentation below. Also see our FAQ section below for questions we have received from parents and supporters.

You may have additional questions that are best answered by our partner offices on campus:

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

How easy is it for first-year students to get an appointment with an advisor? 

As soon as students arrive on campus, they can begin booking appointments with anyone on our Career Advising team. Students can book appointments using Handshake

Should students come to MIT with a draft resume? 

Many students come to MIT with a version of their high school resume, or whatever they used to apply to college. Many students also come to campus with no prior resume. As soon as students arrive on campus they can book an appointment using Handshake to meet with a career advisor and work on their resume. In the meantime, we encourage incoming students to review our resume resources.

Where can I find information about major decisions and career pathways?

When it comes to major decisions, it’s important to remember that choosing a major does not limit your student to only one career choice – and vice versa! We encourage students to view our resources on choosing a major, as well as our career interest pages, to start exploring their interests. 

How is the connection between current students and alumni? Do alumni easily offer internships or other opportunities to current students? 

There is a very strong alumni network at MIT, and there are a number of events and opportunities happening on campus throughout the year for students to connect with alumni. The MIT Alumni Association has a database of alumni contact information that students can access, as well as the Alumni Advisors Hub, which provides students the opportunity to gain one-on-one advising support from alumni on career-related topics.

What is Prehealth Advising? 

CAPD’s PreHealth Advising team assist students and alumni in exploring careers in medicine and healthcare, preparing a strong application, and ultimately applying to their desired health profession program.  We offer a variety of programs to support undergraduate students in exploring careers in medicine, including a pre-orientation program ‘Discover Prehealth FPOP,’ a first-year discovery subject called Careers in Medicine SP.252, the CAPD Clinical Research Externship, and the MIT Physician Shadowing Program. In addition to these programs, our main way to support MIT students and alumni is through 1-1 advising. Learn more about the ways we assist students and alumni in exploring, preparing, and applying to their desired health profession program here.    

What kind of internships do Premed students end up doing at MIT? 

Premed students at MIT engage in a variety of internships and other experiential learning opportunities (ELO) specifically UROPs, since we have a high amount of students pursuing an MD/PhD. That said, depending on their long-term goal (research, clinical practice, etc.), students can pursue any internships as long as they also engage in the more important experiences to medical schools like clinical experiences (e.g. shadowing, research or paid-employment in a clinical setting), volunteer experiences, and leadership experiences.  Regardless of what field the internship is in, it will still demonstrate a variety of transferable skillsets medical schools desire in an accepted applicant. 

Do you see many engineering undergraduates who also pursue Premed? 

Yes! About 50% of the applicants accepted to medical school in our 2023 cohort were engineering majors.  This includes Biological Engineering (the most common major for premeds), Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Mechanical Engineering, and others.  The reason this is possible is because MIT’s GIRs (General Institute Requirements) cover more than half of the prerequisites for medical school.  This allows any major to apply to medical school without having to ‘overload’ on classes or take additional courses after graduating.

If you’d like to learn more about MIT Prehealth Advising, you can view this video recorded at last years parent information session.  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VdTAaHpMRIg&t=532s)

Is there tailored advising for students interested in pursuing a JD/law degree? 

Within CAPD there is an advisor, Tianna Ransom, who works with students who are interested in Pre-Law. Tianna is a great resource; she has a newsletter with information about upcoming opportunities, and she advises students as they consider a law degree.

Is it possible for an international student to pursue law after MIT? 

Yes, law school is possible for international students. The cost of law school is perhaps what would be of the most concern. Our office would work with the student to pursue law school programs that offer generous financial support. You can also explore our resources on preparing for graduate and professional school.

Are there not many students who pursue law after MIT? 

We do have a small subset of students who pursue a law degree – many explore patent law and careers that combine STEM and law. Within CAPD there is an advisor who works with students who are interested in Pre-Law. On another note we also have a number of law firms who are interested in recruiting PhDs to work in patent law. If you have specific questions I encourage you to reach out to Tianna Ransom in CAPD.

What’s the fraction of first-years who can land an internship during their first summer? 

In our most recent summer experience survey (2021), 33% of first-year respondents reported that they were involved in an internship in their first-year summer. Many students (38%) also do undergraduate research during their first-year summer, and many choose to work part-time jobs, volunteer, or take the summer off. 

How do first-years become eligible for internships (or micro-internship) if they don’t possess any prior work experience? What do they put down in their resumes and introductions? 

Many first-year students with no prior internship/work experience include experiences like volunteering, leadership, part-time work, sports involvement, and projects (both academic and personal) on their resumes. Experiences like these are a great way to demonstrate transferable skills like leadership, communication, team-work, and problem solving; all of which are valuable in the internship application process. Students can view our resume resources to see examples of first-year resumes and download resume templates to work with. 

How do students apply for an internship during IAP (a micro-internship)? 

Micro-internships are posted on Handshake, which is a platform that students can use to find and apply for internships/job opportunities. Read more information about micro-internships on our website, including step-by-step instructions for finding and applying to micro-internships on our website, and application deadlines. 

Are there unpaid internships for first-year students? 

The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) requires “for-profit” employers to pay employees for their work. However, there may be unique instances where interns/students may not be “employees” under the FLSA. In instances where a student identifies an opportunity to complete an unpaid or underfunded experience, they may be eligible to seek assistance from other funding sources. Both CAPD’s Career Exploration Fellowships and MIT’s PKG Fellowships, are examples of this. 

Is there a lot of competition among MIT students for internships? How do students differentiate themselves? 

There is competition among all applicants, not necessarily between MIT students. Though employers are eager to hire students from MIT, provided that the applicant meets all the criteria for the position and interviews well. Students can differentiate themselves by asking for help from CAPD and other mentors in their field.

Any advice on class planning in the first semester/year if a student aims for an internship vs UROP in their first summer? 

Whether your student is pursuing internships, UROPs, or other experiential learning opportunities during their first-year summer, we recommend getting acclimated to the rigor of MIT during the first year, while taking classes of interests. Most students do fulfill general requirements during their first academic year, and have the option of applying to both internships and UROPs during this time. 

Do internships have to pass some sort of clearance through your office? 

Students do not need to work with us to get an internship. However we do encourage them to, so that we can look over their application materials and also answer questions they may have.

Are employers at the fall career fair primarily looking to hire upperclassmen; and are there specific positions just for freshmen? 

While some employers are specifically interested in hiring juniors, seniors, and grad students, the Fall Career Fair’s First-Year Friendly (FYF) Initiative supports MIT first year undergraduate students as they transition into the world of career exploration and competitive job markets. Employers registering for the Fall Career Fair are asked to indicate how they would like to engage with first year undergraduate students at the fair and whether they have opportunities that first year undergraduate students are eligible for. Based on the employer’s response, the employer will receive specific labels in Handshake to help students identify employers who are interested in engaging and/or offering opportunities for first-year undergraduates. You can learn more about careers fairs on the CAPD website. 

Are there other ways to get an internship besides the career fair? 

Most students get their internships by connecting with employers on-campus, whether at the fair or not. The Fall Career Fair is just one recruiting activity. What is nice about the Fall Career Fair is that there is a lot of variety for career exploration, and it is a great opportunity for students to practice their networking skills.

Are most companies recruiting at MIT on the East Coast? How many graduates go to California? 

Our graduating student survey (GSS) is a great place to find this information (see Tab 5, under Employment). Top destinations are Boston, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Texas. 

How have top employers changed through the last few years? 

For internships, top employers have not changed much – most employers still hired the same amount of interns. For full-time hires we have seen an increase in recruitment in Finance/Fintech, Aero, Space, & Transportation, and Government-related roles. We have seen a decline in full-time Bio Pharma, Consulting, and larger Tech companies. That said, there are still thousands of companies who want to hire technical students who have not had a chance to in the past.

Are there pharmaceutical companies around the Boston area that hire students from MIT? 

There are many, both large and small, hiring for computer science, biological engineering, data science, chemical engineering, and mechanical engineering. Kendall Square is considered one of the most “innovative” areas in the world. 

Do employers typically request faculty recommendations? If so, any suggestions for first-year students on this please? 

Typically, no. However, we encourage students to start making meaningful connections with professors early on, because they may need references later on. Attending faculty office hours and doing a UROP are two great ways to do this.

Are there career resources specific to international students? 

Our affinity page for international students gives some great information on the additional support in place for this population; and we work closely with the International Students Office (ISO) so that students are choosing appropriate opportunities and getting the support they need throughout the career planning process.

Is it harder for international students to land an internship? 

This depends on the industry. International students cannot work for government organizations (e.g. NSA, CIA) as well as companies who might have government contracts, requiring security clearance for new hires. Otherwise, for internships outside of defense/government roles it is absolutely possible for international students to get an internship provided it is related to their major of study. Bottom line, students cannot pursue any off-campus employment (paid or unpaid) without proper authorization from MIT’s International Students’ Office (ISO) or USCIS. We recommend speaking with ISO for any further questions on visa requirements and authorizations.

How do international students go about identifying potential employers at career fairs and on-campus recruiting events? 

When employers register to attend the career fair or post positions on Handshake, they are asked to indicate if their jobs 1) require US work authorization, 2) are eligible for US visa sponsorship, and 3) are open to candidates with Curricular Practical Training (CPT) and/or Optional Practical Training (OPT). Applicants are then able to filter opportunities and organizations by these criteria. 

Do you have data on students pursuing graduate school at other universities? Which schools do they usually attend and how many students each? 

Our Graduating Student Survey has information on the plans of graduates including graduate and professional school. 

What are the major considerations between choosing a PhD path or MEng at MIT? Are most students from MEng continuing to PhD after MEng? 

Some of the main considerations around choosing to do a MEng vs. a PhD are the students personal/career goals, which they can discuss with a career advisor at any time during the grad school planning process. Some main factors include wanting to pursue industry vs. academic positions, career requirements, and the return on investment. 

Are there any master program or career opportunities for students interested in both tech and business? 

Master’s degrees in CS, MFin, MBA, and MBAn are all viable options for someone interested in both tech and business. Additionally, many employers are interested in candidates with a CS background who are interested in business. 

By Kendel Jester
Kendel Jester Assistant Director, Early Career Engagement