Explore Careers Up Close and Personal with an Alum: Apply for an Externship

By Kelly Cleary and Amy Feifer

Every day at the Center for Career and Professional Advising (CCPA) we talk with students who are trying to figure out what career they want to pursue after graduation. Figuring out which career paths would be a good fit for you requires research and self-reflection.  My simple advice for exploring careers is to read about careers that interest you, watch and talk with people who work in those fields (through a job shadow or informational interview), and try them out yourself through an internship, volunteer experience, or a job.

The CCPA’s Extern Program is a terrific experience that gives students a chance toexplore different career options by allowing a firsthand glimpse into a field of interest. Selected applicants are matched with one of Haverford or Bryn Mawr alumni the students listed as preferences in their application (due January 30th).  By shadowing professionals in their workplace, you can begin to explore your interests and sees what a typical day is like in a particular job. The advice and guidance you’ll receive from alumni in this shadowing experience will help you identify potential career options.

Extern Chris Gardner (HC '15) with Dr. Brandt Feuerstein (HC '87), General Surgeon, Eden Hill Surgical Group, Dover, DE
Extern Chris Gardner (HC ’15) with Dr. Brandt Feuerstein (HC ’87), General Surgeon, Eden Hill Surgical Group, Dover, DE

What is the difference between an Externship and an Internship?

An externship is basically a job shadow that might involve working on a short-term project. From two days to two weeks during Winter or Spring break, externs observe and talk with alumni sponsors and their colleagues. In most cases, you participate in the normal routines of the sponsors, following your hosts throughout their workday or working on special projects. Often, the externs spend time in several departments to gain insight into allied positions in the sponsor’s particular career.

Internships , on the other hand, are generally 8-12 week experiences, where student apply what they learned in the classroom to a work setting under the supervision of the employer. Visit the CCPA’s Internship page for advice and resources for finding internships.

 What do students have to say about their externships?

Conor Brennan-Burke (HC ’16) - Sponsor: Jonathan Copulsky HC ’76, Principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP, Chicago, IL

Before my Externship, I was considering a career in business, but I had no idea where or how. Now, I have a clear idea of exactly what I wanted to do, and some of the steps I can take to get there.  It was very helpful to meet individuals at all different stages of their careers, and hear how they came to Deloitte. Thank you CCPA! 

Isabella Muratore (HC ’16) gaining hands on experience at the Museum of Natural History

Isabella Muratore (HC ’16)  - Sponsor: Briana Pobiner  BMC ’97, Research Scientist and Museum Educator Smithsonian Institution, National Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC

I can’t express how fun, interesting, and informative this externship was for me. I had high hopes for the experience but I never expected I’d meet so many scientists doing insightful research relevant to my interests, get a behind the scenes look at the vast Smithsonian collection, and dissect a deer head! I can tell that Dr. Pobiner put enormous effort into organizing these opportunities for me and in selecting them according to my interests.

boal sponsor_rojas student
Extern Diane Rojas HC’14 with Sponsor: Jennifer Boal HC ’85, U.S. Magistrate Judge, US Courts, Boston, MA

Diane Rojas (HC ’14) - Sponsor: Jennifer Boal (HC ’85), U.S. Magistrate Judge, US  Courts, Boston, MA

The experience gave me great insight into the federal legal system, a field I hope to one day enter. Judge Boal and her staff were incredibly helpful in explaining areas as well as welcoming me into their everyday practices.

Chris Gardner (HC ’15) - Sponsor: Dr. Brandt Feuerstein HC ’87, General Surgeon, Eden Hill Surgical Group, Dover, DE

I had a really enjoyable time. I saw a lot of the behind the scenes of how hospitals work, and got to talk with different surgeons about their experiences. I learned a lot, and this experience helped me decide that I definitely want to do something involving surgery.

Alec De Vivo (HC ‘14) - Sponsor: Mark Scherzer HC 73, attorney/owner, Mark Scherzer Law Office, New York, NY

I learned a lot about health care policy in New York. I also met many people working in health care and got a good sense for the kind of work I would be doing and where to look if I wanted to pursue a job related to health care law or policy.

For more information about the program and to apply (deadline January 30th, 2014) visit the CCPA’s Extern Program webpage or stop by the CCPA in Stokes 300.