The New York Times story includes Centre’s externship program
April 22, 2010 By Leigh Ivey
externship in Washington, D.C. that led to a summer internship
on Capitol Hill.
Centre alumni not only assist current students by hosting them
during externships. Recently, 30 young alums met with students
during GOLD Rush, a networking event held on campus.
After graduation, Centre College alumni do not often lose touch with their alma mater. They not only maintain one of the nation’s highest percentages for alumni-giving but return in droves to Homecoming activities and other special occasions on campus. And they keep in touch with current students, as well—whether current students are a few years younger or younger by several decades.
One of the ways alumni lend their support to current students is by hosting them in their homes and work places during externships. Recently, The New York Times included Centre’s externship program in an article titled, “Office externships: Living with the boss.”
The article discusses the perks of home-stay externships like those offered at Centre, quoting Mike Norris, director of communications, who says, “We call it test-driving a career. It often leads to networking and, in the best cases, to summer jobs.”
Unlike internships, externships are short programs (often two to three days) that allow students to spend time shadowing professionals as they go about their daily lives. At Centre, these professionals are Centre alumni who are eager to assist students at the beginning of their career searches.
“Externships are a great way for students to begin developing networking contacts, in addition to finding out if a career would be of interest to them,” says Deb Jones, director of Career Services.
In the past, Centre students have conducted externships during the break between CentreTerm and spring term. Soon, however, students will have the option to conduct externships at any point during the school year.
“Students will work directly with their career counselor to find an externship that fits their needs, and they’ll be able to schedule it at a time that’s convenient for both the student and the alum,” Jones says.
This year, six students took part in the College’s externship program, shadowing alumni in a variety of fields. Abby Woehrle ’11 of Peoria, Ariz., lived with and job-shadowed Matt Steinfeld ’06 in Washington, D.C., and she quickly came to realize the benefits of the program.
“I chose to participate in the externship program because I was very interested in exploring potential career opportunities and learning more about what I would like to do after graduation,” Woehrle says. “Last summer, I tried to secure an internship position in D.C., but I realized that I didn’t have the connections or necessary knowledge of available opportunities to be successful. Before completing the externship program, I had never been to D.C., but when I left after the externship, I had a large networking base of contacts, each of whom wanted to offer advice, help me get an internship and provide recommendations and connections regarding future job opportunities in D.C.”
During her externship, Woehrle shadowed Steinfeld at the Glover Park Group, where she attended staff meetings, sat in on conference calls with clients and assisted with projects.
“I chose the Glover Park Group because I had worked for a political campaign the previous summer, and the manager of the campaign co-owns two public relations firms,” Woehrle says. “I was interested in learning more about public relations and wanted to know if it was an appropriate career path.
During the externship, Steinfeld not only offered Woehrle glimpses into his daily routine but also arranged meetings for her with his contacts in D.C.
“Not only did I meet with many of the senior staff of the Glover Park Group, but I was able to visit many other non-profits and companies to learn about their internship programs and post-grad opportunities,” Woehrle says. “I also talked with them about future career options, entering the foreign policy field, what different types of positions exist and their own background and general advice.”
Woehrle says that the time she spent completing the externship was invaluable.
“From practicing my basic interview skills to working in a professional environment, I was able to not only learn more about international development and the correlation between the private and public sector but to determine what I want—and don’t want—to do after graduation. I walked away from the exhausting yet rewarding two-day experience feeling motivated, empowered, connected and more knowledgeable.”
The externship paid off in another way, as well. Not long after completing the program, Woehrle was selected as one of only four students to received a Henry Clay Internship in Public Policy. Sponsored by the Kentucky Society of Washington, the internship program provides each winner with a $3,000 stipend for living expenses in Washington during a six- to eight-week summer internship. During her time in D.C., Woehrle will be working in Congressman Ben Chandler’s office.
Knowing well how beneficial the Centre externship program is, Woehrle wishes every student would advantage of the opportunity.
“I hope other Centre students realize the importance of exploring career opportunities early so that they can network and have a better understanding of what they would like to do post-graduation. And I hope all Centre students know that Career Services provides financial aid for its externship programs! I was not able to cover the entire cost of my externship, so Career Services helped me immensely by providing the financial aid necessary to fund the trip.”
Finally, she says, “I hope that all students know that the program exists and that although it’s short, it is well worth their time! I never expected to have such a rewarding experience.”
To see the New York Times story, click here.