Carleton’s unique trimester schedule incorporates a little over a month of break between Thanksgiving and the first week of January. Although rest and relaxation are usually first priority for Carleton students, the long break also enables students to find a part-time job or internship. Carleton’s Externship Program, run by the Career Center, offers students an opportunity to connect with alumni and parent volunteers whose jobs are similar to the students’ future career interests. Students spend 1-3 weeks with their hosts at their workplaces for a career exploration experience that usually includes networking, shadowing options, and a focus project.
Eleanor Dollear ’16 spent her three week externship in New York at Reading Partners, a non-profit literacy organization that creates and implements curriculums in schools for kids who are falling behind on their reading skills. Eleanor and the other externs were given the opportunity to tutor at schools in Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan. Although externs were able to visit a wide variety of schools in the area, Eleanor chose to focus on a couple of schools specifically, in hopes of forming a stronger bond with the school systems and the kids she tutored at each one.
Eleanor’s choice to concentrate on a couple schools paid off and in just three weeks she was able to see a difference in the progress of the kids she tutored. All the hard work she put in with the kids culminated with a winter celebration where each kid recited a winter poem to their peers, parents, and teachers. The celebration was Eleanor’s favorite part of her three week externship because she was able to see how proud each kid was of the skills they had gained and their ability to share what they had learned. Seeing the joy in the kids at the celebration gave Eleanor hope that all the kids would continue to be excited about reading after the tutors had left.
The externship experience solidified Eleanor’s love of working with kids and helped her think about her future after Carleton. This experience made her realize how literacy impacts kids’ futures, and the role that teachers and tutors have in setting up kids to learn as much as they can in an enjoyable way. Eleanor found the externship to be a rewarding and inspiring experience that strengthened her interest in working in areas that benefit kids.