K Expands Student Options for Externships

Kalamazoo College students are about to have more options for externships, providing them with valuable experience applicable toward their chosen professions.


Rachel Wasserman ’20 (from left), Juan Avila ’19 and Yasamin Shaker ’20 participated in a Discovery Externship with host Becky Warner ’04 at Full Tilth Farm in Poulsbo, Washington.

An externship is a short-term job-shadowing experience that works like an apprenticeship, giving a training program through a brief yet practical experience. K’s traditional externships have paired more than 700 students with alumni who provide a homestay and a work opportunity.

Such options will remain available. And starting next summer, K also will offer local and do-it-yourself (DIY) externships. Local externships will encourage students to apply for experiences in their hometown. DIY externships will encourage students to use an online networking application through the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) to work directly with K alumni in creating an externship of their own design.

“Our goal is to provide more flexibility, so we can broaden alumni participation and student opportunities,” CCPD Assistant Director Richard Sylvester said. With these experiences, “we seek to better meet the needs of current K students as they prepare for a rapidly changing job market.”

Past opportunities traditionally have varied in character and geography. They have included:

  • helping at a community kitchen and farmer’s market in Chelsea, Michigan;
  • working with children on the autism spectrum at Daily Behavioral Health in Cleveland, Ohio; and
  • getting up close with octopi in the crystal waters of the Caribbean for the Northeastern University Marine Science Center.

In many cases, externships such as these have lasting effects on how students approach their careers. That’s because they serve as real-life applications of majors and give students a head-start on their networking despite shorter time commitments.

“By providing three tracks, we hope to offer a wider slate of externships and allow students to secure the externships that are best suited for them as they begin to explore the world of work,” Sylvester said.

The CCPD is currently seeking alumni professionals interested in hosting student externs in summer 2019. “By the time we launch to students in January, we hope to have dozens of new alumni lined up as workplace and homestay hosts,” says Sylvester, who encourages interested alumni to contact him directly at richard.sylvester@kzoo.edu.

For more information on externships and how to apply for them, visit the CCPD in Dewing Hall, go to its website or call 269.337.7183.

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Andy Brown

About Andy Brown

As the Director of News and Social Media, Andy shares the stories that distinguish Kalamazoo College through social media, the Web and the news media. Contact him at abrown@kzoo.edu.