This past winter break brought a unique opportunity for students to further their career exploration. The externship program, hosted by the Career Center on campus, featured 49 students who completed externships at 26 different job sites, 23 of which were with alumni. During the program, students traveled to the work sites, shadowed the professional for the day, and had the ability to ask questions and network with other co-workers. “This program serves as a resource for students to try out new careers and industries before fully committing to plans or accepting more permanent positions. It allows for our students to explore their passions and gain more clarity on their professional goals so they can have a successful future,” shared Jessica Deemer, assistant director of experiential learning and main coordinator for the program.
While internships focus on students having a hands-on role in their tasks, externships focus solely on observing the host. “Unlike internships, an externship is a short term, 1-5 day experience based off of job shadowing and observation,” noted Deemer. “Externships are low commitment, low risk and free! In order to secure the internship or job that is right for you, you need to know what type of work environment you thrive in, along with what type of work best suits you.”
“Externships are the most hands-on way to discover what path is right for you before fully committing.”Jessica Deemer
Muhlenberg’s externship program primarily included job sites along the East Coast for the sake of convenience. “To be specific, these 23 alumni hosts were from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Virginia. These hosts come from a variety of industries, including: Non-profit/Social Services, Health Professions/Services, Theater Education, Education and Higher Education, Government & Law, Business & Finance, Performing Arts, Music & Composition, Communications/Marketing and STEM,” Deemer explained.
Many students reflected positively on their experience with their hosts. Matthew DeGirolamo ‘24 completed his externship with the president and owner of Monmouth & Ocean County Awning. “This externship definitely exceeded my expectations,” said DeGirolamo. “Going into it, I was expecting a program centered around specific, technical skills and tools involving accounting and marketing. While I did learn about those topics, the interaction between myself and Mr. Zatorksi mostly found its roots within leadership.
“This proved to be a much more fruitful result than what I believe I would have gathered if we had just focused on strict technical skills.”Matthew DeGirolamo ‘24
Juliana Sims ‘25 shadowed a pediatric dentist and practice owner as a part of the program. “Before participating in this externship, I shadowed a few general dentists as well as a dentist involved in geriatrics so learning about pediatrics was enticing. In the end, this externship was extremely rewarding because I gained both an incredible relationship with Dr. Verga as well as a new appreciation for the importance of setting children up for an entire lifetime of healthy dental care.”
“Going into my day of shadowing I wasn’t really sure what to expect,” commented Victoria Jordan ‘25 who completed two externships, one with a chief of pediatric ophthalmology and ocular genetics and another with a national director of clinical excellence. “Due to it being an office job it did not seem appealing to me, but I wanted to see the behind the scenes of a health business [which is the] reason why I ended up applying. I am very glad I did because the environment was nothing like I thought it would be. I am very grateful that Mr. Polk was willing to give me such an amazing opportunity.”
Following the overwhelming success of the program, Deemer is optimistic for the future of the program and the value it provides for students and hosts alike. “I am very excited to grow this program over the next few years! My ultimate goal for this program is to increase accessibility so that all students have the opportunity to participate in an externship.”