Do an Externship! (a.k.a. Job Shadow)
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.
" ...If I hadn't done this I would probably still be confused right now about my major!
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?
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.
How can I benefit from an Externship?
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
" The externship was excellent. I really enjoyed it. I was surprised to learn how much work goes into planning an event. This career might fit me perfectly."
- 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!
Important Tips for Students
Informational interviews are to be taken as seriously as regular interviews. Do your homework and be prepared! Check out the Interview Section for assistance.
What Students are Saying about their Externship experience...
"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!"
Recent Externship Sites Include:
Advocate Christ Medical Center
Aerotek, Chicago Offices
Athletica West Loop
Central East Alcoholism Drug Center (CEAD)
Champaign County Forest District
Charleston High School
Charleston Police Department
Chicago Institute of Arts
Coles County Animal Shelter
Eastern Illinois Area of Special Education
Eastern Illinois University
First Mid Bank
Illinois State Park
Leo Burnett Worldwide
Mayor's Special Events Office
Red Frog Events
Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center
St. Louis Blues
St. Mary's Cancer Center
University of Chicago