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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 student's 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 [pdf].

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.


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

Dean's Office Emergency Funding Request for Extern Program

The Dean's Office can offer small grants, on average $300, to support food and travel extern related costs for students with significant financial need.  The spirit of this fund is primarily to support emergency circumstances.  Please note the Dean's Office may not be able to fulfill all requests.  If you meet the criteria outlined, please find further details and fund application form here.

Fill out application return to the Dean's Office. 

Internship & Externship Agreements

Career Services is not able to sign any internship or externship agreements with employers, organizations, or companies on behalf of the College.  It is important to note that, as a general practice, the College does not provide any type of insurance coverage for or on behalf of students during an internship or externship.  

Create Your Own Externship

To arrange your own externship, follow these guidelines [pdf] and meet with a career counselor if you need assistance. (Please note you will not be eligible for Experiential Summer Funding.)

Budgeting for Your Externship

As you consider Externship opportunities, please feel free to utilize this budget worksheet to help you make choices

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.