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

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. In addition to in-person externships, remote externships will be available in January 2022.


Key Information

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. In January 2022, some virtual externships will also be available.

Who are the externship hosts?

Each January, alumni, parents, and friends of the College volunteer as extern hosts. These volunteers span a wide variety of professional roles, companies, industries, and geographic locations. We even have some hosts in graduate or professional school. Most extern hosts offer in-person/on-site externships, but some virtual opportunities may be available. Be sure to carefully review the details of all externship opportunities to select those that are both of interest to you and feasible to participate in.

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 week(s) they are available and the length of the externship. After the student-host matching process is completed in November, students will reach out to their hosts to finalize the specific dates of their experience based on the host’s availability.

Most in-person externships last two to five days. Hosts providing a virtual/remote externship are asked to create an experience that is equivalent to two or more work days, but this may be spread across more than two days (see below for more details).

Who can participate?

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

Why participate?

There are many benefits to participating in the January Externship Program. 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.

Are remote externships available?

Yes, some Extern Hosts choose to host remotely due to the structure of their work, location, or other reasons. Please carefully review each Externship listing to determine if it is virtual/remote OR on-site/in-person.

Extern Hosts providing a remote experience are asked to host their assigned student(s) for the equivalent of two work days (or more), according to a structure and schedule that makes sense for the nature of their work and the opportunities, connections, and experiences available to virtually showcase to their students throughout the externship. This may mean an externship format that is comprised of half-day over the course of four days, two hours at a time, or something else altogether. This time may not be exclusively with your Extern Host; this time may include conversations with other member’s of your host’s organization, sitting in on meetings, working on an independent project, or other opportunities to explore the career field.

Is it possible that my in-person externship may be required to move to a remote format?

Yes. It is possible that an in-person externship may be required to shift to remote/virtual based on organization regulations, state/local guidance, or other health and safety requirements.

If this is the case, students will work with their assigned Extern Host to coordinate the logistics of this remote experience.

What will I see and do during the externship?

Every externship experience is different because every professional role, organization, and work environment is unique. The following is a list of sample activities that you may engage in as a student extern:

  • Speak to a variety of people in different departments at the organization.
  • Hear about the career paths of many people in the organization, including your host’s story.
  • Visit different departments and learn how they work together at the organization.
  • Receive advice from young employees at the company, even if they do different work from the host.
  • Speak with HR representatives about recruiting and hiring practices at the organization.
  • Learn what graduate degrees are applicable to your host’s career.
  • Read/review/research and discuss role, employer, or industry-specific information and topics.
  • Work on short-term projects or complete a work sample.
  • Listen to customer calls.
  • Attend meetings.
  • (In person) Tour the workplace.
  • (In person) Stay with a host to learn about work/life balance.

Please note that most of these activities are suggested for both in-person and virtual externships. In the case of a virtual experience, we ask that hosts schedule a variety of conversations, meetings, calls, and other activities creating a schedule equivalent to approximately two business days. 

Who should I contact with questions?

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

Applying, Requirements, & Resources

How can I apply for an externship?

Carefully read all externship descriptions in the booklet (linked at the top of this page), which is arranged by career field. 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. Access additional tips regarding submitting a successful January Externship Program application by visiting the “How to apply for an externship!” section at the top of this page.

Be sure to carefully review the details of each externship of interest to you, such as: special requirements, the externship format (remote/in-person), location, and availability of housing to ensure you’re only applying to externships that are feasible for you to participate in and which align to your interests and qualifications.

What resources are available to support me as I create my resume and write my essay?

Resume Resources:

  • Resume Webshop Tutorial
  • Weekly Gateway & Go Drop In Times with a Gateway Counselor:
    Mondays, 3-4p (virtual or Farinon Atrium)
    Tuesdays, 11:30a-1:30p (virtual or 201 Hogg Hall)
    Fridays, 2-4p (virtual or 201 Hogg Hall)
    *If you prefer to meet virtually, access Zoom links from the Events area of your Handshake account.
  • Check our calendar for upcoming Resume Review Days, to get a quick critique with no appointment required.

Essay Resource:

  • Utilize the Writing Center’s appointments 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.

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 this commitment. Therefore, be sure to plan carefully by thoughtfully selecting your choices, reviewing the host’s weeks of availability, considering transportation costs (if relevant), and taking into account your other commitments over the January break. In addition, you are committing to the following:

  • Participating in a mandatory Career Center orientation that covers timeline, professional etiquette, expectations, etc.
  • Engaging professionally with your host and the networking connections initiated through the host
  • Reviewing pre-assigned reading/research materials to ensure preparedness for conversations
  • Sending a professional communication expressing gratitude to the volunteer and others who provided experience, and providing the Gateway Career Center with a copy of this communication (after the externship)
  • Submitting an evaluation of your externship experience to the Gateway Career Center
  • Developing two SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based) goals as next steps in career exploration/ development – whether to further pursue path explored or a different career area (as part of Career Center follow-up; guidance will be provided)

What happens after I apply?

In November, you will receive an email indicating whether or not you have been matched with an externship. After being matched to an externship, you are required to attend one of the orientation meetings held in November. At this session, you will receive important information about how to proceed and Gateway Career Center program requirements for all externship participants. Participation in an Externship Orientation is required to receive the name and contact information for your assigned extern host.

What is a SMART goal?

SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based. These five characteristics work together to help you ensure that the goals you craft are well thought out, precise, and trackable.

At the conclusion of your Explore & Connect experience, we will ask you to write two career development-related goals. These goals may or may not be directly connected to your Explore & Connect experience. These goals may be related to your internship or job search, expanding your professional network, updating/enhancing your professional documents and/or presence, graduate/professional school planning, course selection, further exploration, or something else altogether.

Review these helpful articles related to SMART goals:

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 an in-person 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 an on-site 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).