Extern Program (student)


An externship is a mentored job-shadow experience that offers a glimpse into a career with the guidance of a fellow Swattie or professional.

Goals of an Externship

  1. Student: Learn about careers/industries to help make decisions about majors, internships, extracurricular activities and jobs; learn how to build relationships with mentors. 
  2. Alumni/Parents: Give back to Swarthmore by providing meaningful learning experiences to current students through mentoring/guidance regarding academics, career choices, and life beyond Swat.

Swarthmore College Extern Program

Swarthmore alumni, parents of students, and friends of the College become mentors to current students by offering externships in a variety of cities and career fields.  

  • Extern Week is the last week of Winter Break and externships are unpaid 
  • To help make externships affordable, some alumni and parents offer a homestay for that week. Transportation and meals are the students’ responsibility, although some homestays will offer a few meals. Additionally, some travel funding may be available through the Dean’s Office.
  • To register for the Extern Program, attend an externship orientation in Career Services and register through mySwarthmore prior to the annual deadline in October.
  • For more information check out our FAQ guide .

Program Timeline/Important Dates

Early October: Students attend mandatory orientation.
Mid-Late October: Students register through mySwarthmore and make up to 4 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, students and mentors connect. 
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. Students and mentors connect. 
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. 

Last week of Winter Break: Extern Week 

Building a Relationship with Your Mentor

When How Topics to Cover


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 (transportation, arrival times, etc.)

January In-Person Gather career insight, reflecting on concrete workplace information in "real-time".
Spring Phone Follow up with your Extern mentor(s) to share ways you’ve incorporated the career and life knowledge they shared into your life so far.
Summer Phone or In-Person Touch base about summer jobs, internships or volunteering,asking about workplace culture and transition from school to work.

Get the Most out of Extern Week

  • Always be on time; call if you must be delayed.

  • Ask your workplace mentor for material, information, websites, etc. that would be helpful for you to review before your externship starts. 
  • Be open to observe, work and ask questions that are interesting to you. If applicable, ask to meet with other workplace colleagues. This is your opportunity to gather information.
  • Everyone you meet is a possible career mentor and job/internship contact. One of the most important benefits of the program will be the contacts you make. Make sure to connect with them on LinkedIn. 
  • If you have a homestay mentor, be considerate of their home environment. Bring a small gift if you are able - something "Swattie" is always nice. Bring current copies of The Phoenix and other campus publications of interest.

  • Enjoy yourself and your mentors. You will find you have much in common!
  • Write a short thank-you note to your mentors and anyone who went out of their way to make your externship interesting and/or comfortable.