Externship Program for Students - Frequently Asked Questions
When Can I Apply?
Before You Apply
An externship is a shadowing experience, designed to explore a career field. It is not a job. Students do not receive academic credit or pay for externships. In the past, a few Externships have later led to internships.
Sponsors are Cal alumni and Cal parents who would like to support and forge a bond with the Golden Bear community.
Externships take place during the January Winter Break. They can range from 1 day to 2 weeks. The length of the externship is specified by the sponsor and cannot be changed. Students must commit to the dates and duration indicated in the Externship listing. See also Externship Timeline.
Externships are available primarily in northern and southern California. There are also some out of state externships in areas such as New York and Washington D.C. There are also a few externships overseas.
Students are responsible for all expenses related to the externship, including travel, accommodations (if any), meals, etc. Pell grant recipients and students with disabilities may be eligible for a travel stipend upon completion of the externship. If you're eligible and interested in applying, please indicate this in your application.
I’m not sure if an externship is for me. Can I talk to students who have done externships in the past?
Please read our student perspectives.
The Application Process
All currently enrolled undergraduate students are eligible to apply for an externship position, however, priority will be given to freshmen and sophomores. If you are graduating in December of the current year, you are not eligible. See Externship Timeline for specific dates.
Application instructions will be provided in mid-October. See Externship Timeline for specific dates.
You can apply for up to three externship positions, but will only be granted one externship opportunity. Although we generally try to match students to their first choices, we cannot guarantee that you will receive your first choice. Please make sure that you are interested and willing to follow through with your second and third choices. Once you have been matched you will no longer be considered for your other choices.
My class standing listed in the externship database differs from when I will be graduating. How will I be counted,since there is a preference given to freshmen and sophomores?
We are aware of this discrepancy. Your class standing is automatically tied to the registrar record. In the application, we also ask for graduation year and review both in the matching process, with the focus on the anticipated graduation year in determining the real class year of the student.
Externs are not chosen by the sponsors themselves, but are matched by the Cal Externship Program Staff based on the student’s career interests and availability.
Placements will be announced in early November or by the last week of November if not matched in the 1st round. See Externship Timeline for specific dates.
If You Are Selected
Once a student is selected, he/she must follow through with the externship. Students must also be able to commit to the length and dates indicated on the web or agreed upon with the sponsor. Students who decline or cancel an externship offer that they applied for will not be allowed to reapply and will not be rematched to another opportunity during that year's program.
If an emergency arises and you absolutely cannot participate in the externship, please email the Cal Externship Program Office.
Externs from previous years offer the following advice to current students who are planning to participate in the program:
- Read through all the listings before you apply - you may find an unexpected gem.
- Research the organization before you begin your externship.
- Keep an open mind at all times.
- Be actively engaged and ask questions during the assignment.
- Ask for contact information from your sponsor when you finish your externship.