Externships from the Inside
Externships allow you to explore a career field without the longer-term commitment of an internship and to gain more knowledge than you could from a brief informational interview. A typical externship lasts one to four days and takes place at the sponsor's work site. In many instances, sponsors have been an ongoing source of information and advice for student externs.
The Externship Program placed hundreds of students in externships with over 200 different sponsors during the last several years. Students from a variety of disciplines have been placed in externships ranging from retailers such as the Gap and Mervyn's to biotech firms like Chiron and Genentech to shadowing a teacher from a local elementary school.
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.
"I learned a great deal about the work environment of a law firm in general,
as well as the work a plaintiffs' firm does along with the mechanics of
class-action suits. My sponsor was careful to show me quite a variety of
types of work he would perform in a typical day and made the experience
comfortable and informative. I hope he continues to act as a sponsor as
I imagine others would also benefit quite a bit from spending a day with
him as I did."
"I got to see firsthand all the different ESL groups that a teacher got
to deal with, and got to see what a day was like for a ESL teacher. I really
enjoyed my talk with my sponsor as we talked about graduate school and what
kind of training was good. It really helped me decide what I wanted to do
"I learned so much in four days! I think I learned more and saw more about
the oncology medical field in four days than I could ever learn by sitting
in a classroom for one whole semester. Of course, I still had questions
by the end of the program, but it helped me start the semester with a desire
to learn more about cancer."
Integrative Biology major
"My sponsor was so passionate about his work that he went above and beyond
to show me all areas of child protection and county work. I know it was
an area of interest for me, but he really helped me to narrow my window
of interest and provided me with a number of contacts."
Interdisciplinary Studies Field major with a concentration on Social Development of Children
"My sponsor was extremely approachable, honest, open, and helpful the entire
day and made the experience a valuable one to help me determine what I don't
or do like about the occupation and industry."
Mass Communication major
"My sponsor was such a down-to-earth person. He was willing to go beyond
his duties to give us the greatest experience. He has a great way of explaining
to us what he does. He explained to us the way the analytical instruments
worked. He gave us excellent advice and he offered to have us back once
a week during the semester. We never ran out of things to talk about."
Chemical Engineering major
"I learned a great deal not only about the field of environmental
consulting, but also about the career options available in planning, transportation,
water quality, etc. My sponsor was attentive - making sure I met people
in different departments within the firm (especially other Cal alumni).
During my stay, I attended a meeting about a new CalTrans project and had
a chance to assess an Environmental Impact Statement. After my externship
experience, I am genuinely considering consulting as a career field I want
Environmental Science major
"As an alum, I cannot tell you how impressed I was at the [externs'] maturity,
commitment, ethics, compassion and curiosity. They all asked tough questions.
Each of them was able to easily talk with patients, which is unusual even
for early medical students. They each have a real commitment to science
and I am sure that this experience will help them reflect as they go along
and make choices about later careers. I hope to keep in contact with them
and can report that each one wrote me or emailed me personal notes about
their experiences and the meaning to them. It was so gratifying to know
it was so helpful to the students!"
Dr. Linda Bosserman, Medical Oncologist & Medical Director, Wilshire Oncology Medical Group & Cancer Center
"A highlight for me is understanding what a student is going through which
helps get me in touch with my own development process from my college days.
The ability to describe the activities that I am doing while I am doing
them is also a worthwhile challenge."
Partnering Program Manager, Hewlett-Packard Services
"[The student] was very easy to get along with and asked excellent
and insightful questions. I brought her to a rehearsal with me and she followed
up with a beautiful letter about her observations."
"I really thought this was a great fit for the extern and me. We rolled
up our sleeves on the first day. She came to meetings that exemplified the
work we do and how we plan programs and collaborate with individuals and
groups in the community. The extern helped me prepare a quarterly funding
report, which was very helpful to my very busy schedule. I also think I
was able to provide adequate one-on-one time with her to address her questions.
She was very enthusiastic about helping me and our health center in the
short period of time she was there."
Barbara Raboy, Director, Daly City Youth Health Center
"I loved it! I tried to give each student a varied experience with a broad
range of exposure to the various facets of my career."
Public Defender, Contra Costa Public Defender's Office
Externship Program information, including listings and application materials, is available online. Don't miss out on this great opportunity to learn more about a career field you are interested in. Act now!