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My Friend’s Winter Break Externship

Ethan shares his friend Mitchell's externship experience over winter break

Ethan shares his friend Mitchell's externship experience over winter break


Hello again! Happy 5th week, aka mid-term week! I cannot believe my freshmen year is basically half way done! Between all the tests and projects going on, I want to quickly recap my friend Mitchell’s wonderful externship (experiential + internship = externship) experience over the last winter break. Mitchell is a sophomore and wonderful and I hope to have a similarly positive externship experience while at Carleton.

What is the Carleton Externship Program?

Basically, Carleton alums working in a wide variety of interest areas throughout the United States offer more than 200 students a 1-3 week experience to shadow them and allow students to learn more about a particular career field, make connections, and explore the world of work. Any student (except first-year international students like me due to Visa restrictions) may apply to up to three externships and participate in one per year. Those selected complete an orientation, craft a learning plan, and write a short reflection essay about the experience. Here are more detailed information from the Carleton Career Center website.

My Friend’s Externship Experience

So, my friend Mitchell was hosted by a Carleton alum working at a family-business furniture import company. He told me that he got to work in three different roles during his externship: Human Resources, Transportation, and Storage Management.

Human Resources with Carleton Alum

The first part of the externship, according to Mitchell, was working directly with the Carleton alum that hosted him in the Human Resources (HR) department. While there, Mitchell used his knowledge of Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence to explore how advanced technology aids HR work. He learned how AI helps the company to filter through applicants. Mitchell also learned about how the company markets itself on platforms like LinkedIn.

Making Transportation More Efficient

Mitchell learned from and contributed to the Transportation department, where he helped to make their fleet of trucks more efficient by designing routes and schedules through collecting and analyzing data. He said that there were lots of data sorting using excel as well as lots of “data cleaning,” which to be very honest I am not quite sure what it exactly is but it sounds like very cool (and useful and important) stuff.

Operation Intern at Storage Management

The third, and most important, part of his externship, according to Mitchell, was working with Storage Management. Operating and managing a warehouse, making sure spaces are designated effectively, is not a simple task at all! During his tour of the warehouse, Mitchell was amazed by the complexity of the job. He said that he had questions about AI and robots taking over jobs of storage workers before, but his mind changed after closely working with them. He realized that many components of human labor is not replaceable with AI or robots, at least not yet.

Mitchell also joined an UPS station at the company where he worked with 2 groups: transporting & packaging. Here, he learned about how time and cost efficiency are considered when shipping furniture products to customers. Michell learned how to pick what packages and fillings to use according to the type/size/amount of the product being shipped. He did a lot of additional equipment research and analyzed which improvements can be made at the UPS station.

What Mitchell learned From His Externship

Clearly Mitchell learned a lot from this externship experience. He learned about the development of a business, how it finds it current position, and how to utilize the business’ advantage and disadvantages on the market.

Another take away from Mitchell was, and I am quoting him word by word, “Carleton alums are the best!” He talked about how the alum supervisor always arranged for him to have lunch with managers working in different departments at the company. Mitchell was so happy to be talking with the manager of the IT department for one day,  the head of HR the next day, and a third manager the day after. These kind of Carleton-specific opportunities, allowed Mitchell to learn about various departments’ daily challenges. He was also able to build connections within the business starting then and there.

Mitchell said that he stayed at another alum’s house throughout the entirety of the program, and he was overwhelmed by the hospitality and kindness of his hosts. He said that this experience truly taught him what it means by being a Carleton alum and how he feels obligated to pass on the love as a Carl when he graduates.

It seems like Mitchell had a really fantastic experience, and I wanted to share it here because I am very excited for the day that I get to participate in an externship! (Probably junior year for me since I am planning on going on a Carleton Off Campus Study program next winter break in Ethiopia)

See you next time! And please stay safe and healthy!


Ethan is a first-year international student from Beijing, China, and is exited to embrace the environment and winter in Minnesota. Ethan is a huge soccer fan as he watches and plays it as often as he listens to music, especially a cappella music by Pentatonix and other artists. Although his passions in Environmental Studies and Chemistry flow through his veins, Ethan is thrilled to explore other areas like Music and Computer Science in his time at Carleton. Meet the Other Bloggers!