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EIU Career Services

test drive

Do an Externship! (a.k.a. Job Shadow)


 Application | Evaluation  | Reflection/Action Plan

What is an Externship?

Eastern Illinois University's Externship Program offers you a wonderful opportunity to "test drive" a career prior to graduation.  

An Externship is designed to help underclassmen obtain an accurate understanding about the daily routine, skills and demands of a particular career.   Early identification of a career allows students to select the major, elective classes, activities, internships and professional development plan that provide the skill sets required by specific fields.   




What will I do as an Extern? 

Student externs observe day-to-day activities of an organization and assist with a variety of projects or short-term activities such as:

  • Conduct informational interviews with a professional to gain a broad perspective of their work and how it contributes to the overall success of the organization. 
  • Tour the facilities.
  • Observe functions and duties of a particular position. 
  • Attend meetings and/or client appointments. 
  • Observe and ask questions.      

When should I do an Externship? 

You are encouraged to be an Extern as early as your second semester freshman year to gain knowledge to assist you in making the right choices regarding your major and your career.     

How long is an Externship? 

Externships generally take place during non-class days, semester breaks, and holidays. You could be placed at an organization in your hometown or near Eastern Illinois University's campus.   Externships can last from 2 hours to a full 8 hour day.   


An externship gives you the opportunity to: 

  • Explore a career field
  • Experience a workplace "up close and personal" 
  • Learn from to apply your major through discussions with a professional who has a similar background 
  • Assess your "fit" for a particular position or organization.  
  • Make connections and begin establishing your professional network that can be used to obtain an internship or a job in your desired field 

Benefits of an Externship   

  • Obtain exposure to an actual workplace and see what the professionals do on a daily basis.
  • Begin building your professional network that could potentially lead to an internship or full-time job.
  • Gain professional development that you can add to your resume and career portfolio.   


How do I get started?

Informational Interviews may take place at the professional's place of employment or may be conducted via phone. Occasionally some areas of profession have confidentiality issues that prevent a site visit.  In this case, an informational interview might provide insight into the career field.  In an informational interview, you can speak with experienced professionals and learn whether you are on the right career path.  It is also a good chance to practice interviewing skills without the pressure of a job interview!


Informational interviews are to be taken as seriously as regular interviews. Do your homework and be prepared!  Check out the Interview Section for assistance.



"All in all  it was an interesting and educational experience. I don't think that I want to work in a strictly Special Education environment or work with children that young. I am glad to know that now, instead of after graduation!"

"My externship was a great experience. It totally changed my career options and helped me focus on what direction I wanted to go. I received valuable advice from the employer and plan to apply for an internship next year."

"It helped me to make a decision about what major to pursue."

"I learned that I don't want to work in a clinical setting."

"This was a great experience! I am very interested in pursuing a career in Forensic Science and (the Externship) gave me an understanding of what a career in the field would be like."

"I would tell (students) to do an Externship because the experience you gain is very valuable and you can learn so much from someone that is already working in the field that you plan to go into."

"Students can see how well a field suits them by actually asking professional questions. The observing of the job is excellent and just might help them make a decision on what career to pursue."

"Very valuable, helpful, and well worth the time!"

        • Advocate Christ Medical Center 
        • Aerotek, Chicago Offices 
        • Athletica West Loop
        • Blackstone Hotel
        • Carle Hospital 
        • Caterpillar, Inc. 
        • Central East Alcoholism Drug Center (CEAD)
        • Champaign County Forest District
        • Charleston High School
        • Charleston Police Department
        • Chicago Cubs
        • Chicago Institute of Arts
        • Coles County Animal Shelter
        • Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education 
        • Eastern Illinois University
        • First Mid Bank  
        • Heavenly Cupcakes     
        • Illinois State Park 
        • Killian Branding
        • Lakeland Homes
        • Leo Burnett Worldwide 
        • LifeLinks
        • Mayor's Special Events Office
        • Red Frog Events 
        • Refugee One
        • Rush Hospital
        • Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center 
        • Sears Headquarters
        • St. Louis Blues
        • St. Mary's Cancer Center 
        • University of Chicago 


Related Pages

Contact Information



Career Services

Eastern Illinois University
1301 Human Services
Charleston, IL 61920

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