Externship FAQ

What is the difference between an internship and an externship?

Externships are short-term, unpaid, and hosted by alumni volunteers in various fields across the world.  They are meant to help students gain an insider view of an alumnus’s holistic life and career. Internships are longer term (a semester or summer), may involve pay or academic credit, and a student may have more significant responsibilities or tasks to complete for the organization.

What kind of externship should I opt to host?

When registering to host an extern, please select all externship options (Exploratory, Career-Community, Social Change) in which you are interested.  The selection committee will then place you based on student interest and need.  The majority of our externship offerings will be exploratory.

Will I have the opportunity to select the student I host?

Because we want to ensure a smooth, efficient process for both alumni hosts and students, alumni are not currently included in the selection process. Students apply for the externship program through the Center for Careers, Life, and Service, and a selection committee will ultimately decide which students will be granted those externships.  The CLS Staff will then match students based on committee feedback and ranking.

What student meals am I responsible for throughout the externship?

When completing your registration form, please honestly and specifically disclose what you are willing and able to provide to your extern throughout their stay.  There is no expectation from the college that you provide meals for your extern, and Students can apply for funding to aid in the cost of food.  Some students do have specific dietary needs. If you would have difficulty providing certain types of meals (vegan, gluten-free, etc.) just let us know via email and we will take that into consideration when making placements.

Will my extern be able to stay in a hotel?

The externship is meant to be an opportunity in which students can work and live with a Grinnell alumnus to better understand how life and career coexist.  Those who are unable to offer the homestay will be asked to help arrange housing with another alumnus in the area by utilizing their network and connecting with The Office of Development and Alumni Relations to receive assistance in finding a homestay. For experiences where housing is not secured, the externship may need to be cancelled.

Am I able to host a student for more than five days or less than three?  

Absolutely! If you are interested in holding a longer externship experience for your student, we can make arrangements that are appropriate to your interests and needs.  To give students the necessary time to achieve the learning outcomes of the program, we will not offer externships less than three days in length.

Should I register if I don’t consider my day-to-day work to be all that “exciting”?

Yes! Students should see the reality of the position and industry in which you work.  Any position is worthy of shadowing, as it will be a positive learning experience no matter your perceived “excitement level”. What you do day-to-day will always be a new and exciting opportunity for a student to experience.

What if I cannot host a job shadow, but I want to volunteer?

If you are interested in assisting with the externship program, but you are unable to host a job shadow, we can still use your help as a homestay host! If you are interested in this volunteer opportunity, please complete the externship alumni registration form.

How many students can I host?

There will be no more than two students per host to ensure a comfortable, valuable experience for both the students and alumni involved.


If you have additional questions, please contact Brooke Vonderheide, assistant director of donor and alumni relations for career programs, at vonderhe@grinnell.edu or 641-269-3196.