Extern Program

Pictures of externs

The Swarthmore Extern Program is a five day job-shadowing program designed to enable students to explore a particular field of interest. The program always runs during the last week of the College's winter break, typically mid-January. The College offers externships in many environments. Many of our externships are in Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Seattle. Read our Extern Program Tips for Alumni. Additionally our Extern Program Timeline offers more information on important dates. Externships are an educational opportunity for students, thus they are voluntary and unpaid.

How to get involved

  • Be a workplace sponsor: Alumni serve as workplace sponsors, allowing students to visit them in their places of work to learn more about their careers. 
  • Be a homestay sponsor: Alumni can also volunteer to be homestay hosts, inviting students to stay in their homes during the externship. Since the students are not compensated, alumni homestays are an essential aspect of the program. Typically, the students arrive on the Sunday prior to extern week and stay for the full week. You can coordinate with your student how to manage mealtimes and travel details. 
  • Do both!: Have the full extern immersion experience!

Program Timeline/Important Dates

  • September-mid October: Extern Database open for alumni and parent registration. 
  • Mid-Late October: Students will review opportunities and register online through their mySwarthmore account, selecting up to four potential choices.
  • Late October: Round I of Extern Matching. Career Services runs a computerized lottery to match students with externships. Emails are sent from the Extern system advising students of their matches. Extern Match details are available on mySwarthmore
  • Late October:  Deadline for matched students to accept or decline externship. Students should contact workplace sponsors to introduce themselves. Alumni and parent workplace sponsors will receive email notification of matching at this time as well. 
  • Late October:  Round II Externship Matching. Staff meet individually with unmatched students who are allowed to select remaining available externships on a first come, first served basis.
  • Early November:  All matches are completed and alumni and parent workplace sponsors receive email with information about their student externs. 
  • Mid November: Homestay matches are completed. All alumni and parents who volunteered to serve as homestay hosts receive emails notifying them of their homestay matches.
  • November-January:  Student and Sponsor/Host stay in touch with each other regarding preparations and expectations for Extern Week.
  • January:  Last week of winter break is Extern Week (mid-Jan).


extern workplace sponsor or homestay host



Interested? Sign up to receive the registration email in early September.

Contact Information