Get a valuable, insider's perspective on a career and industry that interests you by participating in an externship.

**The January Externship Program is suspended for the 2020-2021 academic year. Please consider participating in the virtual Gateway Explore & Connect Program and/or virtual Career Tracks Program this year.**

Over the January break, sophomores, juniors, and seniors have an opportunity to shadow a professional in the field. During a two-to-five day period, you’ll become immersed in your host’s daily activities to gain a better understanding of their work, their career path, and their industry as a whole. Hosts include alumni, parents, and friends of Lafayette in diverse career areas, geographic locations, as well as in graduate and professional school.


Helpful Application Tips & Program Timeline

Helpful Hints for Preparing Your Application

  • Read through the entire Externship booklet and don’t limit yourself to certain externship career/industry categories.
  • Consider opportunities in different geographical areas.  Some hosts offer housing and there is money available from the Alumni Association to assist with travel and lodging costs (receipt-reimbursement basis; maximum award of $300).
  • Make sure you read the Special Requirements section of the Externships to see if the host has made restrictions on who can apply (i.e. certain class years, majors, etc.)
  • Enter your top choices on the application form. The Career Center discourages you from listing only one or two selections since your odds are not as good for obtaining an Externship.
  • Take note of the weeks the host is available.  Make sure you are not applying for an Externship where your availability and the host’s do not match.
  • Only completed Externship applications submitted by the due date will be considered.
  • Your essay is a very important component of the application.  Spend an appropriate amount of time gathering your thoughts.  Only one essay is required per student, there is no need to write separate essays for each Externship selection.  All essays must be typed and double spaced and have your name on each page.  DO NOT submit the same essay you have submitted in prior years.  It must be a new and unique essay each year. Utilize the Writing Center’s drop-in hours for feedback on your essay: The Gateway Counselors are not able to review your essay given their direct role in the host-student matching process.
  • Your resume should be done in professional resume style that effectively communicates your education, skills, and experience.  The Career Center strongly advises having your resume reviewed by your Gateway Counselor for the Externship Program.
  • The Career Center performs the final matches.  The host receives the student resume once the match is made.
  • The Externship Program is competitive, although the Career Center strives to match as many students as possible.  If you are not matched one year, that is taken into consideration if you apply the following year.
  • If you apply for an Externship and are awarded one, participation is REQUIRED.  Failure to participate will be considered negatively in any future Externship applications.

Contact the Gateway Career Center with any questions throughout the application process.  We are happy to help you in preparing the best application materials possible.

Externship Program Timeline

The following is a general timeline for the externship program. Please see year specific information for exact dates.

  • Externship booklet available for students following Fall Break.
  • Attend “The Externship Process Made Easy” workshop in October. This is not required but strongly encouraged, especially for those applying for the first time.
  • Applications due late October.
  • Student notified of match status by the middle of November.
  • Mandatory orientation meetings for matched students in late November.
  • Financial assistance applications are due to Alumni Office in late November.
  • Students begin contact with hosts in early December, and continue until externship.
  • Students are notified of financial assistance award in mid-December.
  • Externships take place in a two-to-five-day span during the three weeks of January before the start of classes.
  • Students submit receipts for reimbursement and send thank-you notes to hosts.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the externship program?

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are given the opportunity to “shadow” an alumnus, parent or friend of Lafayette throughout a typical day. You may become involved with projects, attend meetings, or meet with other members of the organization. Most importantly, you can have your questions answered by someone with experience in a field you are considering as a possible career.

Who are the externship hosts?

Each January, alumni, parents, and friends of the College volunteer as extern hosts, who span a wide variety of professional roles, companies, industries, and geographic locations. We even have some hosts in graduate or professional school.

When do the externships take place?

Externships are scheduled during the first three weeks of January, before classes resume for the spring semester. Hosts specify which weeks they are available and the length of the externship. Most last two to five days.

Who can participate?

The externship program is open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors of all majors. Some hosts may restrict their externships to certain majors or years; this will be noted in the specific externship description.

Why participate?

The benefits that you receive from being a student extern are invaluable. In addition to helping you consider career choices, you will gain opportunities for informational interviewing and networking. Many externship hosts have helped students find internships and jobs.

How can I apply for an externship?

Carefully read all externship descriptions in the booklet, which is arranged by occupation. Don’t limit yourself to one category, because you may find something interesting in another. For example, if you are a psychology student, look beyond the “Psychology/Counseling” section because you may find an externship in “Education,” “Communications,” “Nonprofits,” or the wide variety of career paths that exist for each major. Learn more about applying for an externship by visiting the “How to apply for an externship!” section at the top of this page.

What am I committing to?

By submitting your application, you are agreeing to accept any of the externship choices you’ve listed in the application and honor the commitment. Therefore, be sure to plan carefully by thoughtfully selecting your choices, reviewing the host’s weeks of availability, considering transportation costs, and taking into account your other commitments over the January break.

What happens after I apply?

In November, you will receive an email indicating whether or not you have been matched with an externship. After receiving an externship, you are required to attend one of the orientation meetings held in November. At this session, you will receive the name of and contact information for your host as well as important information about how to proceed.

Who should I contact with questions?

Contact Melissa Schultz in the Career Center at or 610-330-5115 with any questions about the program.

Housing, travel & financial assistance

How will I get to and from my externship?

You are responsible for all travel planning and expenses, meals and housing connected with the externship. In some cases, extern hosts provide housing. This housing may include staying with your host, your host paying for your lodging at a local hotel, or your host connecting you with free housing nearby.

How will I pay for my externship expenses?

You are responsible for all travel planning and expenses, meals and housing connected with the externship. If your ability to cover travel costs is restricted, you may apply for financial assistance through funds provided by the Alumni Association. These funds help cover a portion of your traveling and housing expenses. The financial assistance awards are distributed on a receipt reimbursement basis; typically, the maximum award is $300. This is a competitive process and funds are limited. If you have been matched for an externship, you will receive more details regarding the stipend process through the Alumni Association.

How does the financial assistance process work?

The funds available through the Alumni Association are available on a reimbursement basis. You will apply for financial assistance  by early December, after you have been notified of your externship match. Your financial assistance application must include an estimate of your anticipated costs for travel and lodging. Following the application process, you will be notified whether or not you have been granted aid, and if so, for how much. [Please note that the typical maximum amount awarded is $300.] It is then your responsibility to pay for your expenses during the externship program, and submit receipts and required forms in order to be reimbursed. All aspects of the externship aid process are managed by the Office of Alumni Relations (x5040).