Would you buy a car without test driving it first? Probably not. Why, then, would you jump into a career without spending a day exploring what the next 30 years of your life could look like?
Denison’s externship program, which launched in 2012, allows students to do just that. Zach Pavol, assistant director of Career Exploration & Development (CE&D), acknowledges that both internships and externships are useful experiences, but they serve different purposes.
According to Pavol, unlike an internship, which emphasizes long-term practice and professional development, an externship is generally a one- to two-day job-shadowing experience focused on career exploration.
Because of this explorative nature, externships usually do not have as many qualifications required, making it easy for students of all class and experience levels to apply. Pavol said that externship hosts generally look for students who will be “good listeners, looking to learn and willing to engage,” rather than those who have professional or academic experience in the field.
Meant to be a friendly, easy introduction to a line of work, most of the externships that Denison promotes are hosted by alumni, parents and friends of the university who are excited about helping students in exploring career options.
“We are in a unique position because we have so many great alumni in a variety of fields, so our program is strong and getting stronger,” Pavol said.
Over 60 externship opportunities in many different fields, including public relations, finance, consulting, non-profit work, retail management and governmental work can be found on Denison’s job database, DU Link. The deadline for most externships over winter break is this Saturday, Nov. 15.
The program includes three parts: pre-program training, to help students know what to expect and how to maximize their time with their host; the externship itself; and an end-of-program reflection, where students discuss what they learned from their experience and learn how to best move forward in terms of career goals.
Many Denison students have already taken advantage of the externship opportunity and have great things to say about their experiences.
Emma Miller ’16, an English literature major from The Woodlands, Texas, spent a day at Cartoon Network in Atlanta for her externship. She made the most of her time there by attending a planning meeting for a series, watching animators at work and meeting with the heads of several departments.
“I mostly chose to do an externship because I wanted to get a feel for the film industry without putting all my eggs in one basket,” she said. “I would certainly recommend this type of experience for anyone interested in trying new career avenues without the stress of internships.”
Despite the short amount of time spent there, Cheyanne Cierpial ’16 from Clark, N.J. was surprised by how much she benefitted from her externship experience with Edelman in New York City, “the world’s largest public relations firm,” according to their website.
“I didn’t expect to get much out of one day there, but it completely changed my outlook about my future,” Cierpial said. Since her externship, the creative writing major has returned to Edelman and connected with people working on the corporate communications floor.
The CE&D office encourages students interested in getting help with applications or general advice about externships to drop by the third floor of the Burton Morgan Center during their quick advising hours, held Monday through Friday from 2 to 4 p.m. Students, as well as professionals interested in hosting an externship, can also visit the Externship page on the CE&D website to learn more.