By Kelsey Overbey
For students with undecided majors and self-proclaimed uncertain futures, Kenyon can often feel like a high-stress environment. The Career Development Office (CDO), however, says it has a partial solution through its externship program.
The CDO has run the program for 22 years, and according to Director Scott Layson, student interest has fluctuated over time. Around 100 students participated 10 years ago, during what Layson described as the program’s “zenith.” Interest has since dropped, with around 30 students participating each year, excluding last year’s slight increase to around 40.
According to Layson, however, it appears that externships are starting to catch on again.
An externship is a type of mini-internship or job shadow. “It’s a three-to-five-day opportunity to shadow either an alum, parent, or friend of the College that’s in a field that a person is interested in,” Layson said.
Many find externships more accessible than internships, since they require a relatively minimal time commitment and can be cost-effective and informative. They are also easier to obtain than internships.
“I think it’s one thing that can help your r?sum? stand out. Anything that can set you apart I think really helps because it’s so difficult to get that callback [for an internship],” said Josiah Olson ’14, who externed at Nationwide Insurance in Columbus.
Olson connected with the CDO knowing he wanted to work in finance and ultimately found his calling within the actuarial field, a facet of finance that he “didn’t even know existed” prior to his externship. He described his experience as informative, less like an internship and more like “reading a book or watching a documentary on the field ﾅ like absorbing the information.” Yet Olson cautioned that externships are less hands-on than an internship or job experience and that students should “be prepared to do a lot of observing and a lot of listening.”
Larae Schraeder ’97, current president of the Alumni Council, not only sponsored Olson in his externship, but herself externed at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. while attending Kenyon. She gave the externship program glowing reviews, saying it “is helpful for all” Kenyon students.
Externships are not only useful for students like Olson, who have an idea of their intended career, but also students who are looking for ways to “rule out things [they] don’t want to do,” Schraeder said. Olson commented that the only thing he’d change would be to have “gone first semester freshman year and started talking with [the CDO], just because they’re aware of a lot of opportunities that the average student isn’t aware of.”
The application for an externship is much easier than that for an internship. Applicants work with the CDO to choose an alumnus or alumna they want to shadow, as well as a few backups.
Next, applicants add their choices to a Google Doc, which Layson said he uses to find each student a good alumni match. Just because the process is easy, however, does not mean applicants can slack off. Students often reserve popular alumni quickly, according to Layson, since the program runs on a “first-come, first-serve” basis.
Although the fall application deadline has passed, Layson encourages anybody looking for a January externship to contact him. Otherwise, students can apply for the next round, which will take place during the spring semester.
Comments for this article have closed. If you'd like to send a letter to the editor for publication, please email us at email@example.com.