​Share your knowledge and help students explore their career interests this January! We invite you to participate in our job shadowing program.

Students participate in externships to gain a realistic understanding of a career field, explore career options related to their major, and learn the daily activities of an occupation. Externships are helpful to students as they plan for their future. As an extern host, you have the opportunity to support a Lafayette student in a very personal way. Alumni and parent volunteers are vital to serving more than 300 sophomore, junior, and senior students who engage in externships each January.​​

The following information can help support you as you plan a meaningful and successful experience for your extern:

Register to be an extern host today!

  • Each January more than 300 sophomores, juniors, and seniors shadow professionals and current graduate students. We are continuously seeking new hosts who are able to coordinate an itinerary of experiences for a student that provide a “real world” look at a career area or graduate program of study. Volunteers may register to host their extern(s) in-person or virtually (details included below).
  • Register as a January 2023 Extern Host today!

Externship Hosting Timeline

Program Timeline


  • Host applications due to the Career Center by the last week of September.


  • Student applications due to the Career Center the last week of October.
  • Hosts begin planning externship itinerary.


  • Hosts receive name(s) and resume(s) of matched student(s) during the last week of November.
  • Hosts continue creating itinerary for the extern(s). This includes talking to others at the host’s organization about spending time with the student.
  • Students attend mandatory orientation.


  • Hosts can expect students to initiate contact between late November and early December.
  • Students and hosts continue communications and planning throughout the month.
  • Hosts finalize itineraries for students and review all specifics with their externs prior to the holidays.


  • Externships take place the first three full weeks of January, after the New Year holiday.
  • Contact the Career Center with any concerns or changes in plans.


  • Hosts complete evaluations by mid-February.

Host Guidelines & FAQs

Who are the externs?

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors of all majors participate in externships. This is a career exploration activity, so many externs do not have solidly formed ideas about careers. Students are matched with hosts based on the criteria you set when registering, the quality of their application materials, and their involvement with the Career Center.

How long are externships, and what am I committing to?

  • Hosts are asked to commit to providing an externship experience that is two-to-five days in length (please see below for suggested externship activities). Consecutive days may be helpful for students who must travel to your location for the experience.
  • When registering as an Extern Host, you will specify your week(s) of availability during the program window (the first three full weeks of January), as well as any student requirements (i.e. class year, interest area, background). You will also select whether you will host the extern(s) on-site or virtually.
  • You will also be asked to provide a description of what your externship will entail for students to review to determine the match of your experience to their interests/qualifications at the time they apply.
  • Hosts are asked to compile industry, organization, and/or role-specific materials for the student to review in advance of the externship to provide context that enables them to make the most of the experience.
  • Hosts are also asked to develop an itinerary for the externship, and to share this with the assigned student(s) prior to or at the start of the externship (see below for more details).
  • As an Extern Host, you are committing to being a supportive source of career information and advice throughout the externship experience.

Are externships required to be hosted in-person? Is there a virtual option?

Beginning in January 2022, we are offering Extern Hosts the option of hosting their students in-person OR virtually. Please select the externship format that is most feasible for you when completing the Extern Host registration.

We recognize that it might not be feasible nor productive to host virtual externships according to a full work day schedule. If electing to participate virtually, please plan to host your assigned student(s) the equivalent of two work days (or more), according to a structure and schedule that makes sense for the nature of your work and the opportunities, connections, and experiences available to virtually showcase to your students throughout the externship. This may mean coordinating an itinerary for your student comprised of half-days over the course of four days, two hours at a time, or something else altogether. This itinerary may include time spent directly with your student, as well as conversations between your student and other member’s of your organization, having the student attend meetings or presentations, having the student work on an independent project, or other opportunities for the student to explore your career field. Please see “Tips for Hosting an Externship” below for sample externship activities.

For in-person externships, we ask that Hosts coordinate an experience that is two-to-five days in length. We encourage hosts to coordinate an in-person externship experience that spans consecutive days, when possible, to reduce costs and logistical planning for students who may need to coordinate and fund travel and lodging for their experience.

How is the externship assignment made?

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors are provided with an e-booklet describing all of the available externships. They submit an application listing (up to) their top six externship choices, along with a resume and an essay. The Career Center then performs the matching process using the information provided by students as well as any criteria outlined by each externship host.

Once I am assigned an extern, what happens next?

It is the student’s responsibility to initiate contact with you after the host-student matches have been made, so that you can work together to decide on the specific dates and times you will spend together. You should provide directions and guidelines for appropriate dress, as well as discuss housing arrangements (if applicable). Student contact information will be on the resume that is emailed to you by the Career Center. This initial contact is also a time for the student to give you an indication of what he or she is interested in observing and gaining from the experience.

How structured should this experience be?

This depends on the host and the student. Because the students are also responsible for making this externship successful, they should clearly communicate their interests and expectations to you. If students don’t proactively share their interests and goals, we encourage hosts to guide students through this conversation. All hosts should have a planned itinerary in place approximately one month prior to the externship and provide the student with a copy in advance of or at the start of the experience.

How does the extern handle transportation and housing?

Many students choose externships close to home, so housing is not an issue. Other students, however, are more than willing to travel for an externship in their career area of interest. In these situations, some hosts provide housing. If that is not possible, students typically obtain lodging at a nearby hotel. Any housing and transportation costs are covered by the student; however, the Alumni Association does provide funds to help offset such costs. Students are encouraged to inquire with their assigned hosts regarding any hotel, transportation, or parking options/recommendations that might work best for the experience but it is the student’s responsibility to coordinate these details.

What are my rights and responsibilities?

You have the right not to answer any questions or requests you feel are inappropriate or confidential. You also have the right to address with the student any behavior that is unacceptable in your workplace.

You have the responsibility to spend time with the student, or arrange for the student to meet with someone else or work on a project throughout most of the day. We ask that you minimize idle time as best you can. It is not your responsibility to guess what will be most interesting to the student. The student should share with you his/her specific areas of interest to help in your planning. The student has also been instructed on appropriate workplace etiquette and has been advised to perform research on your organization and industry prior to the externship.

What if I need to cancel my externship?

If some unforeseen event occurs that requires you to cancel your externship, notify your student immediately. Please also contact the Career Center as soon as possible. Whenever possible, we encourage hosts and students to work together to reschedule the externship for a mutually convenient time.

How can I provide feedback on the externship program?

You can contact Melissa Schultz at any time with comments or questions. A formal evaluation will be emailed in late January to solicit your feedback on the experience. These evaluations are used in the overall program assessment. We strive to make this program a positive experience for all students and hosts involved.

What happens after the externship is completed?

It is our sincere hope that the externship experience is a positive one for you. Some hosts and students stay connected for months or even years after the externship. Whether or not this connection continues is up to each student-volunteer pair.

If the experience is a positive one, your student may inquire about the potential for internships or full-time jobs in your organization or industry. We have seen many externships blossom into long-term connections and opportunities, although that is not an expectation or requirement of the program.

In what other ways can I volunteer for the Gateway Career Center?

If you enjoyed spending time helping a Lafayette student explore careers through the January Externship Program, the Gateway Career Center provides many other opportunities to volunteer with us.

Who can I contact with questions?

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

Tips for Hosting an Externship

Suggested externship activities for workplace externships (with sample itinerary)

  • 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 story.
  • Visit different departments and learn how they work together at the organization.
  • Connect with employees at different career stages, including new grads/entry level, regardless of whether or not their work is similar to your role. This will give the extern a chance to receive advice from professionals with varying perspectives and experiences.
  • Speak with HR representatives about recruiting and hiring practices at the organization.
  • Learn what graduate degrees are applicable to the host’s career.
  • Read/research material relevant to the role, organization, and/or industry; have someone available to answer questions and discuss the content.
  • Complete a work sample or work on short-term projects (not filing or copying).
  • Listen to customer/client calls.
  • Attend meetings.
  • (In person) Tour the workplace.
  • (In person) Stay with a host to learn about work/life balance.

Click here to view a sample job shadowing itinerary.

Click here to view Host Tips for Remote Externships.

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 (see details below). 

Suggested externship activities for graduate/professional school externships

  • Attend classes with host.
  • Sit in on planning meetings with faculty advisor.
  • Talk with host and other graduate students about their research/focus.
  • Talk with host and other graduate students about their post-graduation plans.
  • Help host with current projects, lab, field, etc.
  • Tour the campus.
  • Learn about graduate admissions process.
  • Stay with host to learn about student/social life balance.

How to prepare your extern

  • Provide your extern with information about your role, organization, and/or industry that they can review in advance of the experience.
  • Give the extern guidelines for dress and other etiquette rules of your workplace.
  • Discuss housing arrangements, if applicable.
  • Provide a detailed itinerary including directions to your workplace and/or virtual meeting details.

How does the Career Center help the externs prepare?

  • All externs attend a mandatory orientation in mid-November.
  • Orientation content includes: basic etiquette, professional behavior and dress, guidelines for communicating with the host, and other program specifics.
  • Many externs currently work with a Career Center counselor allowing them to receive one-on-one guidance and preparation.
  • Externs are instructed to make their initial contact with the host by telephone, if a number has been provided.​

Extern Service Award Recipients

We are pleased to honor volunteers who have served as Extern Hosts for 10 consecutive years at the annual Volunteer Awards Ceremony.

Please view the list of annual Extern Service Award recipients here. Thank you to all of our Extern Hosts for the tremendous generosity you share with ‘Pards through this program!

If you have any questions, contact the Gateway Career Center

Melissa Schultz

201 Hogg Hall
Easton, PA 18042
Monday-Friday 8:45 a.m. - 5 p.m.
(Summer Hours: M-F, 8:15 a.m. - 5 p.m.)