Kalamazoo College Has Banner Year for Career Development Opportunities

Externs Lauren Gaunt and Brianna Melgar with host John Kerley
Externs Lauren Gaunt ’15 and Brianna Melgar ’14 with host John Kerley ’61 on the construction site of a replica of a Spanish galleon at the San Diego Maritime Museum.

From Santa Monica, California, to Silver Spring, Maryland, from Kenya to the United Kingdom, Kalamazoo College student interns and externs are hard at work this summer, honing marketable skills, gaining experience, and building relationships with professionals in various fields.  Through the Center for Career and Professional Development’s Discovery Externship and Field Experience Programs, 39 externs and 85 interns are trying on careers in fields as diverse as medical research, non-profit administration, and small-business management.  Many are hosted by the 48 K alumni who are serving this summer as supervisors and mentors.  Many are supported financially by endowed career development funding put in place by generous donors over the years. Externs work and live with alumni hosts for one to four weeks, and interns spend at least six weeks in a supervised workplace setting.  This summer the CCPD is partnering again with the Mary Jane Underwood Stryker Institute for Service-Learning to support the latter’s Community Building Interns, at work in Kalamazoo area nonprofit organizations. CCPD also collaborates with the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership, whose interns are work at social justice advocacy organizations from Detroit to Port-au-Prince, Haiti. CCPD provides pre-departure orientations, learning contracts, opportunities for regular structured reflection, and feedback and evaluation processes for both student and supervisor.  One externship host, Heidi Gregori-Gahan ’76, described her summer experience:  “The 2-week program was intense in terms of my focus and the time spent with [my extern] during the evenings and on weekends. We had many meals together, went to a play, toured a couple of historic sites, went to a concert, and more. I think the host needs to be prepared to devote a lot of time and energy to ensuring the success of the program, and I enjoyed every moment of it. It was so nice to be able to share a part of the profession I love (international education) with an aspiring young professional–but also to know that I was giving back to the college which has meant so much in my life, both personally and professionally.”