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Hosting an Externship: The Pros and Con

February 17, 2010
By Barb Behringer Geiser ’83

I like Carls—my own classmates, folks from other “sister reunion” years (hello Class of 2003 and 1958!), and current students who so easily remind me of myself long ago. So when I heard about the Career Center’s effort to expand linkages between alumni and students, I signed up to host an externship for a current student to learn about my line of work as an international economist at the U.S. Treasury Department. With the help of Matt Malloy ’99, who also works at the treasury, I hosted two senior economics majors, Kyle Burkhardt ’10 from Eden Prairie, Minnesota, and Moses Cherono ’10 from Kenya, for two weeks at my home and work. For a little while I thought I was nuts (and wondered why my husband didn’t save me from myself in agreeing to do this), but then again, I thought, what’s the worst that can happen with four Carls involved? 

Given that I work in the world of public policy—where one constantly debates the pros and cons of any particular policy choice—below I offer my list for anyone who might consider hosting a similar externship in the future.

Pros: 

  • I gained positive role models for my son—role models whose lessons included how to consume 12 oz. of pasta in one serving;
  • I gained helpers for dinner, and learned a new way to set the table—Kenyan style; 
  • I gained company on my commute to work;
  • I regained insight into why I entered into and stayed with my career choice;
  • I regained the joy of seeing Washington, D.C. at holiday time through the eyes of first-time visitors;
  • I gained a convert to the cause of fighting climate change;
  • I gained perspective on international development priorities from someone who grew up in Sub-Saharan Africa;
  • I reminded myself that I’ve learned a few things along the way that are worth sharing with young people starting out in the world; and
  • I earned the satisfaction of helping two bright young people get insight into a professional workplace and see the practicalities of balancing work and family.

Cons:

  • Only one: too much testosterone in the house at one time! However, this problem was readily solved by not entering the room when any football game was on TV.

Clearly, the pros well outweighed the cons, so consider hosting an externship yourself sometime soon.


Learn more about hosting externships, or sign up as a Career Center volunteer.

For more information, contact Brent Nystrom at bystrom@carleton.edu.

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