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Extern Program (mentor)

Registration is now open for January 2020. If you are interested in becoming a workplace and/or homestay mentor, please  Register.

The Swarthmore Extern Program is a job-shadow mentoring program designed to expose students to career exploration and guidance.  Students are matched with Workplace Mentors of the students’ choice by computer lottery.  Workplace Mentors and Homestay Mentors help students learn about new career options, areas of study, offer professional insights and act as a link to life after Swat.

The program runs the last week of the College's winter break, typically mid-January.  All career fields are represented from performing arts to technology.  Externships are all over the country with our major cities being Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, San Francisco, and Seattle. 

Externships are an educational opportunity for students, thus they are voluntary and unpaid.

Extern 2020 will be January 13-17. 

Alumni/Parents/Friends: Sign up to receive the registration email in early September.

Contact Information

Be a Mentor: Get Involved

  • Be a workplace mentor: Alumni and parents serve as workplace mentors, allowing students to visit them in their places of work to learn more about their careers. Students can be from any class year, so the mentoring experience will vary.  You can offer insights at any stage in a student’s college career! 
    • First year students will have more questions about adjusting to college life and managing coursework.  
    • Sophomores will be thinking about declaring their majors.  
    • Juniors may be planning study abroad and summer internships.
    • Seniors will be working on their plans after Swarthmore: employment, grad school or both. 
  • Be a homestay mentor: Alumni and parents can also volunteer to be Homestay Mentors, inviting students to stay in their homes during the externship. Since the students are not compensated, 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.  Your guidance will help students navigate their time at Swarthmore and learn from your insights about work/life balance.
  • Do both! Have the full extern immersion experience!

Program Timeline/Important Dates

  • September-mid October: Extern Database open for workplace and homestay mentor registration.
  • Early October: Students attend mandatory orientation.
  • Mid-Late October: Students register online and make selections. 
  • Late October: Round I of Extern Matching - computerized lottery to match students with externships of their choice.
  • Late October:  Deadline for matched students to accept or decline externship. Once the student accepts his/her externship, Career Services notifies mentors of their matches. Students and mentors should begin connecting.  
  • Late October:  Round II Externship Matching- Career Counselors meet individually with unmatched students who are allowed to select remaining available externships on a first come, first served basis. Once the student accepts his/her externship, Career Services notifies mentors of their matches. Students and mentors should begin connecting. 
  • Early November:  All workplace matches are completed. 
  • Mid November: Homestay matches are completed. Career Services notifies homestay mentors and students. At this point, students and mentors should have begun to build their mentoring relationship; see below for guidelines. 

Build the Mentoring Relationship

When How Topics to Cover
November Phone Get to know each other, talking about academic and career goals, career information needed to make decisions on goals, experience needed to take next step.
December Phone Reflect on Fall semester classes, clarify plans for week together.
January In-Person Students gather career insight, reflecting on concrete workplace information in "real-time".
Spring Phone Follow up with your student mentee to talk about how the Extern Program influenced their spring semester. 
Summer In-Person/Phone Touch base about summer jobs, internships or volunteering, offering advice about workplace culture and transition from school to work

Additional Information

You may contact Career Services with any questions or concerns at anytime during the externship experience.

In case of an emergency or other serious concern, contact the Swarthmore College Department of Public Safety immediately at: emergency 610-328-8333, non-emergency 610-328-8281, Swarthmore College Public Safety officers are available 24/7/365 to respond to emergency/crisis incidents as well as non-emergency reports. Public Safety staff can assist with connecting students to resource personnel, such as Counseling and Psychological Services, the Title IX Coordinator, the on-call dean’s division staff, or an on-call nurse. They can also provide assistance with making a report to local law enforcement. 

The College expressly prohibits any form of discrimination and harassment on the basis of any College-recognized protected classification, including sex, race, color, age, religion, national or ethnic origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, pregnancy, marital status, medical condition, veteran status, or disability in any decision regarding admissions, employment, or involvement in a College program or activity. Please read the full Swarthmore College Notice of Non-Discrimination. Resource Information about sexual harassment/assault, dating violence and domestic violence, retaliation, stalking, and other misconduct that is sex or gender based can be found on the SHARE website

Tips for Extern Workplace & Homestay Mentors

Thinking about mentoring through the Extern Program? Is this your first time?

Learn More

2016 Extern Report

The 2016 extern program ran during the last week of winter break and was a huge success. The full report is available here.