How should I structure my externship? || What kind of students participate?

Some important things to consider when applying to be an externship program host:

  • This program runs twice a year: winter break(December-January) and summer break (May-June)
  • By completing this form, you are agreeing to be a potential host for a Muhlenberg student or students. Once you complete this form, the opportunity to shadow you will be posted for students to apply to, so only complete this form if you would like to participate in the program!
  • There is a chance that you won't be matched with a student; it depends on our application pool.
  • You can allow your student to shadow you for a minimum of 1 day and a maximum of 5 days.
  • Students are required to find their own transportation to their externship location. 
  • While we do suggest to students that they should do research on the job/industry they will be observing, it is still likely that the student will have limited knowledge about your field of work before their externship.

The Career Center helps students participate in externships where they can shadow a professional to get a glimpse of a typical day on the job.From left: Rhiannon Harwi ’20, a media & communication and studio art double major, completed an externship with Deb Clay-Alston ’98 P’14 at ADP in Allentown.

Suggestions for Externship Structure

Purpose of the program: The purpose of the externship program is to give students a “day in the life” experience in a career field of interest to the student. This career exploration opportunity allows for students to explore new jobs and industries, gain first-hand experience in the professional world and learn more about their professional likes and dislikes. This day can be arranged however you and the student decide based on the industry and their interests. This opportunity can range from 1-5 days, depending on your availability. An externship is observational in nature, but students can be asked to participate in projects, if applicable.

Ideas for the visit: Here are some examples of how to make the most of the externship with your student participant based on best practices for these opportunities:

  • Suggest a phone call to discuss general information first (i.e. general career field info, discuss student goals, etc.)
  • Discuss your job and career path or professional school experience
  • Introduce the student to your colleagues
  • Arrange for the student to spend some time with your colleagues to gain a broader perspective of your field
  • Try to schedule meetings on the day of the visit so the student can sit in and observe these dynamics in-person
  • Allow the student to accompany you in your daily activities: client calls, court trials, classes, appointments procedures, meetings, etc. if possible. (Students can be asked to sign a confidentiality statement if applicable)
  • Bring the student on a tour of your facility or workplace
  • Arrange lunch with coworkers. (We have suggested students bring money and plan to pay for their own lunch. If you would like to treat the student to lunch, please let her/him know)

Understand the career awareness of your student: While this opportunity is open to students of all years, the main focus is on career exploration for first- and second-year students. To plan your externship with your student, you can ask them information beforehand to gauge why they are participating and where they are personally with their own career exploration. The student will also provide you with this information once they match with you.

The Career Center is a valuable resource for Muhlenberg students.

The types of participants

There are generally three types of students who participate in the externship program (note: not every student will fit these descriptions—this is just to help show the variety of students who participate).

Undecided studentsThese students aren't certain about their career goals and are participating as a means of exploring their options. They applied for your opportunity because it sounded interesting to them.

What is this student looking for in this experience? 
They are looking for basic knowledge about your career industry. They may not have much, or any, background knowledge on the job or industry. The students are encouraged to apply so they can start learning the very basics about your field.

Students clarifying their options: These students are using the externship to help narrow down some of the options they've decided are interesting to them in their search for a career path. They have some knowledge about your field.

What is this student looking for in this experience?
They are looking to you for a clearer sense of the “career realities” so they can make a decision. They are hoping to learn new information that will give them clarity about their future career path. They may come with many questions to help make their future decision. 

Students who want to enter your field: These students are confident that they want to pursue a career in your field or industry.

What is this student looking for in this experience?
They hope to deepen their knowledge and learn about how people enter and advance in your field. They may be curious to learn about next steps in the process to reach their career goal. 


Jessica Deemer '21

Assistant Director of Experiential Learning
Address Muhlenberg College Career Center 2400 Chew Street Allentown, PA 18104