For Kalamazoo College students who are exploring a variety of career options, the Discovery Externship Program affords a unique opportunity to learn from alumni professionals. Discovery Externships are unpaid opportunities for first-year and sophomore students to explore a career interest area in a hands-on setting for a week or two, while building relationships that have the potential to be meaningful and lasting. Externships offer many benefits:
- Access to professionals in your field of interest
- First-hand experience in your field of interest
- Enhancing your professional and personal skills
- Meeting your individual learning goals
- Reflecting on outcomes and future options
- Networking with alumni and their colleagues
- Mentoring and informal discussion, often through a Homestay
Discovery Externships range from one to two weeks in length depending on the host. During an externship, students may have opportunities for observation and access to other professionals in the field (comparative shadow experiences). Because of the shorter time-frame, it is not uncommon for students to fit both an externship and a separate paid job into their summers. The Discovery Externship Program includes three separate tracks that allow students to find an opportunity that best fits their needs.
Legacy Track (Externship + Homestay)
Legacy Track externships function exactly the same way externships have functioned in the past. The CCPD identifies alumni externship hosts, helps them create an externship opportunity (including a homestay), then posts the opportunity in Handshake for students to see.
Once the application period opens in winter quarter, students apply in Handshake to the opportunity (or two) that best suits them. The externship host reviews all of the applicants, interviews some, and selects a student who is the best fit for the opportunity. These opportunities take place during the summer months, at a time that works for both student and host.
Local Track (Externship Only)
The Local Track allows students to conduct an externship with an alum in their hometown. The only difference between Local Track externships and Legacy Track externships is that there is no homestay with Local Track externships. Local Track externships will be listed in Handshake, and students will apply and be considered by the externship host. While Local Track externship hosts are encouraged to spend time “after hours” with their extern, the student is able to live at home while doing the externship instead of staying with the alum.
DIY Track (Externship +/- Homestay)
The DIY (“Do It Yourself”) track allows students to customize a relevant externship opportunity by activating their alumni network. To pursue this option, students use Wisr, the Kalamazoo College Career Mentoring Network, to research and identify K alumni who have expressed interest in hosting externs at their workplace and/or offering housing. Students take initiative by contacting alumni and conveying their goals for career exploration.
Students may create a DIY in their hometown or elsewhere. They may create an opportunity where they work and live with the same alum, or they may work with one alum and do a homestay with a different alum in the same area.
Once the student and the alum have agreed to the opportunity, the student will provide full details of the opportunity through an online survey that serves as the DIY externship application. CCPD staff will contact the applicant and the alum they are partnering with and schedule a meeting to discuss the details of the externship. Students who apply to the DIY track receive the same financial benefits as other externs.
Short but Intense
Designed for exploration, Discovery Externships are a career development alternative to a traditional internship. Each externship, while still including planning (before) and reflecting (after), occurs over a shorter amount of time (1-2 weeks) than what is typically spent in an internship (6+ weeks).