Virtual 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 is a virtual externship?

While nothing will replace the in-person externship experience, a virtual externship will allow students to explore possible careers safely during the pandemic. Components to a virtual experience should include shadowing, mentoring, interviews, and a small project.

  • Shadowing: During this portion of the virtual externship, student will attend meetings with their host. The host will decide upon appropriate meetings for the student to attend.
  • Mentoring: The student and host will meet at the end of the day to reflect on the day’s activities. The student will also have an opportunity to ask any questions.
  • Interviews: Throughout the process, hosts will be encouraged to schedule interviews for their student. These can be with co-workers or alumni in a similar field. This will highlight all the possible routes to a particular job.
  • Project: The host will be asked to decide on a small project for the student to complete. This project should last one to two hours.

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.

I was planning to host in the spring of 2020, but externships were canceled due to the pandemic. Will I have the opportunity to work with my assigned student?

We will make every effort to make the same pairings. Please note: a student’s interests, needs, or situation might have changed since the spring.

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.

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 Jessica Stewart, senior associate director of donor and alumni relations, at or 641-269-3234.