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Externships: Information for Student Participants

Carleton’s externship program connects students with alumni for a one- to three-week career exploration experience, which usually includes a focus project, shadowing options, and networking. Externships may include housing with the externship host, but this is not required.

Timeline for 2017-2018 Externship Program

  • By September 1 – Externship descriptions posted in the Tunnel.
  • September 12 – Externship Program Information Session – 7:00-8:00 pm.
  • September 13 – Externship Program Information Session (repeat) – 12:00-1:00 pm.
  • October 211:59 pm – Deadline for student externship applications to be submitted to the Tunnel.
  • October 3 – Applicant packets emailed to hosts for review & selection. Hosts are encouraged to contact students and conduct phone, Skype, or in-person interviews, but this is not required.
  • October 20Offers emailed to students at the same time and according to the hosts' priorities. Students have 24 hours to accept an offer. Offers not accepted within 24 hours are subject to forfeiture.
  • October 21 – Offers emailed to students for all externships still unfilled. Students have 24 hours to accept an offer. Offers not accepted within 24 hours are subject to forfeiture. This process is repeated each day until all externship positions are filled.
  • October 23 – Externship Orientation Session – 7:00-8:00 p.m.
  • October 24 – Externship Orientation Session (repeat) – 12:00-1:00 p.m.
  • November 3 Learning Plan, Liability Waiver, and Financial Waiver (for students receiving financial assistance) forms due.
  • November 27 – December 16 – Externships happen any time during this time period, as determined by externship hosts.
  • January 8 – Externship reflection essay due.
  • January 29  – Externship reflection poster (submitted as a PDF) due.
  • January 31 – Final deadline to turn in receipts and reimbursement form. 
  • February 7 – Externship Poster Session – 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Externship Program Requirements for Students

Why Reflection Exercises are Required

The reflection exercises serve two purposes: educational and legal

  • Educational. The educational purpose is to ensure that students reflect on their experiences. Any person can have an externship or internship experience, but the experience itself is not enough to be considered “experiential education.” To be considered “experiential education” there needs to be some kind of formal reflection on the experience.
  • Legal. Defining an extern’s time with an employer as “experiential education” allows the employer to host you as an unpaid extern and not as an employee, remaining in compliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Externship Program Requirements

Reflection Exercise #1: The Learning Plan

  • Learning plan DRAFT copy signed by Career Center staff member. REQUIREMENT DUE: Upload to Moodle by 5:00 pm on Friday, November 3, 2017. This is completed before the externship begins and must be reviewed and signed by a Career Center staff member
  • Learning plan FINAL copy signed by externship supervisor. REQUIREMENT DUE: Upload this FINAL COPY of your Learning Contract to Moodle by the end of the first week of your externship. The dates will vary depending on when you begin your externship. When you arrive at your externship site, you must go over your learning contract with your externship supervisor (make changes if necessary) and have your supervisor sign it.

Reflection Exercise #2: Reflection Paper. REQUIREMENT DUE: Upload to Moodle by 5:00 pm on Monday, January 8, 2018. Submit a 1-2 page reflection paper on the externship experience

Reflection Exercise #3: Bring-Back Poster Session

  • Create Poster – Instructions will be provided for creating an externship poster. REQUIREMENT DUE:  Upload completed poster to Moodle by Monday, January 29, 2018.
  • Attend Poster SessionREQUIREMENT DUE: Wednesday, February 7, 2018.
  • Present at Poster Session If an extern will be off campus during Winter Term, they are excused from the poster and poster session requirement, but they must inform the Career Center in advance

Externship Program Forms

  • Waiver of Liability Form (completed by all externs). FORM DUE: Upload to Moodle by 5:00 pm on Friday, November 3, 2017.
  • Financial Assistance Budget Form (only completed by students with financial need who are applying for financial travel assistance). FORM DUE: Upload to Moodle by 5:00 pm on Friday, November 3, 2017.
  • Financial Assistance Waiver Form (only completed by students with financial need who are applying for financial travel assistance). FORM DUE: Upload to Moodle by 5:00 pm on Friday, November 3, 2017.
  • Externship Travel Reimbursement Form (only completed by students with financial need who are applying for financial travel assistance). FORM DUE: Wednesday, January 31, 2018. Complete instructions for submitting reimbursement paperwork is in the December 2017 Externship Student Handbook.

Background/General Information

  • The main difference between an externship and an internship is length: externships are from one to three weeks in length; most internships are eight to 12 weeks.
  • In this career exploration phase, students are able to test themselves in a particular kind of work or career path.
  • Many alumni hosts have wanted to host internships, which are typically longer in duration, but for multiple reasons never could (e.g., not enough substantive work, can’t dedicate ample time to make it good, organization puts up too many logistical/policy barriers). This one- to three-week experience is much more possible and manageable for some.
  • Placement with a domestic twist, The Financial Times (A PDF article focusing on the role of 25th Reunion Trustee Paul Van Valkenburg '82 and Barb (Behringer) Geiser '83 as externship volunteer hosts)
  • Hosting an Externship: The Pros and Con

Logistics and Particulars

  • Carleton's externships take place during winter break (between late November and mid-December) each year.
  • The Career Center coordinates the application process and all applications are submitted through the Tunnel (Carleton's online job/internship board). All externship applications require a resume and a 250 word statement of purpose, although some externship hosts may require additional materials.
  • Hosts will identify their student candidate preferences to the Career Center, after which the Career Center extends offers to students.
  • All students who are DACA recipients and have active work permits are eligible to participate in the externship program without restriction. Read more about Career Center resources for undocumented students here.
  • First-year students through seniors are eligible to participate in the externship program; however, each host is free to restrict their externship to specific class years. International students are eligible only for 100 percent shadowing externships, and each externship posting will specify whether or not international students are eligible to apply. Note: international students in their first year are not eligible to participate in the externship program due to visa restrictions. Read more about Career Center resources for international students here.
  • All externships are unpaid unless indicated otherwise in the description.

The Application Process

Application Deadline: Monday, October 2 at 11:59 pm.

Please do not wait until the last minute to apply. All externship postings in the Tunnel shut down automatically and disappear at 12:00 am on Tuesday, October 3, and no applications will be accepted after that time.

Notifications to applicants regarding selection will begin on Friday, October 20, and will continue over a period of three to five days until all the externship positions are filled.

Application Materials

There are three documents to submit as part of the application process, one submitted as an online form and the other two submitted to the Tunnel:

  • 2017 Externship Application Form (there is also a link at the top of the Career Center home page). This is an online form to be completed and submitted before the application deadline. You only need to complete this form ONCE.
  • Resume – Submit to the Tunnel a resume that has been reviewed by a Student Career Advisor or a staff member in the Career Center, especially if you are an incoming student and/or if your resume has never previously been reviewed by someone in the Career Center.
  • Letter of Interest – Submit to the Tunnel a 250 word letter of interest (approximately two paragraphs) that speaks to the following two issues:
    • why you are interested in this particular externship at this particular organization, and
    • how this externship relates to your overall work at Carleton and/or your career goals.

A Couple of Tips from the Career Center

Tip #1 - Students are allowed to apply to a maximum of three different externships. Read over the descriptions carefully and think broadly about the different options. Try to be strategic about which externships you apply for. Some externships will be very popular and will receive many more applications than others.

Please keep in mind that any externship will provide you with a rewarding experience that will open your eyes to the professional working world, will teach you a lot about a particular line of work, and will introduce you to many new people who you will learn from and potentially remain in touch with after the fact.             

Tip #2 - Before you apply to any externships, clarify with your family that each of the externships you want to apply for will be possible for you to manage if you are accepted. Check with your family about the dates of the externships, whether you can afford to do them (keep in mind that financial assistance is available through the Career Center), etc. If you receive an externship offer, you will have 24 hours to accept. Having these discussions with family before you apply will make your ability to confidently accept an offer within the 24 hour time period go much more smoothly.

Housing Information

Some Carleton externs will be offered housing with their externship hosts. Externs whose host is not able to offer housing will need to take the initiative in finding a place to stay during their externship, and the Career Center will provide support and guidance in that search. Students will often be able to find housing with someone from within the Carleton network.

Once you have secured housing for your externship (and this includes if your externship came with housing) you will be asked to complete the "Externship Housing Information Form."

If the externship host does provide housing along with the externship, or if the student finds a housing host within the Carleton network and by using Career Center resources, it is the student’s responsibility to contact that host and determine if the housing situation will be an acceptable one. The student is strongly urged to have a conversation with the potential housing host: by phone, by Skype, or in person if the location allows, in order to help determine if a particular household is a good fit for you. The Career Center does not screen a particular housing situation for a particular student, and cannot vouch for any housing situation or assume any risks or liability for injury or loss associated with any site.

Financial Assistance for Travel

Some financial assistance to students with demonstrated financial need will be available for travel to and from the externship site. Financial assistance will be awarded on a sliding scale based on financial need, with a maximum of $600 offered to students. (Receipts are required for all expense reimbursements.) After you have been offered an externship and have accepted it, you can formally apply for financial assistance by filling out and submitting a budget worksheet to Moodle. Questions? contact Brian Murphy or Ashley Belisle at or in the Career Center.

If you qualify for 95% reimbursement for transportation costs and are in need of a stipend for food expenses in order to participate in your externship, please contact Brian and Ashley at no later than November 7.

Career Center pages maintained by Andrea Kubinski
This page was last updated on 7 July 2017