The Carleton Externship Program

Each year, alumni, parents, and friends of Carleton offer more than 250 students the opportunity to participate in externships during winter break. These one- to three-week experiences allow students to learn more about a particular career field, build and/or cultivate professional connections, and explore the world of work. Hosts offer externships in a wide variety of career fields/ industries throughout the United States and internationally.

The Career Center also recognizes that some students want to design their own experience. If you have a connection with an organization and have cultivated an externship-like experience, you can register for the externship program. The externship must meet certain criteria to be approved or considered. Students who participate in self-designed externship can also apply for funding.

Financial Assistance

The Career Center acknowledges that not all great experiences will be one that will ensure student financial stability. Students with demonstrated financial need, as determined by Student Financial Services can apply for financial assistance to cover transportation and food expenses. Funding is competitive and only for students with confirmed externships and complete the registration application.

To apply for financial assistance, you must register your externship.

Program Requirements

Selected externs are required to complete a small number of preparation and reflection activities. These program requirements are mandatory, and provide additional opportunities for learning through the externship program. Students who do not complete all externship program requirements become ineligible to participate in the program the following academic year.




July 14–August 20

Host registration

August 30–September 27 at 11:59 pm CST

Applications open to students 

September 29–October 6

Hosts review and rank candidates

October 8

Students begin receiving offers, according to host rankings. Students have a 24-hour acceptance window. Hosts and accepted students will start to receive introductory emails.

October 10–October 24

Second recruitment/selection round, if needed

October 29

Externship positions finalized

Monday, November 29–Friday, December 17

Externships take place

January 2022

Post-externship evaluation for students and hosts

Application Process

Students in all class years are eligible to participate in the externship program; however, some externships are restricted to applicants who meet specific qualifications. All externships are unpaid unless indicated otherwise in the description.

Externships will be posted in Handshake. They are posted as soon as they are approved by the Career Center, and we anticipate that the majority will be posted by Monday, August 30 for the 2021 program. Student externship applications are due Monday, September 27 via Handshake. Each student may apply to up to 4 externships. Externship applications require two components:

  1. Résumé – For each externship position to which you apply, submit a current résumé.
  2. Cover letter – For each externship to which you apply, submit a 250-word tailored cover letter that discusses why you are interested in this externship at this organization, and how the externship relates to your work at Carleton and/or your career goals. If no contact name is listed, address your letter with “Dear Externship Host.”

We strongly encourage you to have a student career assistant (SCA) or career coach review your materials before submitting your applications.

Selection Process

While the Career Center facilitates the application and selection processes, externship hosts make all selection decisions. The selection process proceeds as follows.

  • Hosts read applications and either contact students they wish to interview or make decisions based on application materials alone. Each host creates a ranked list of candidates and notifies the Career Center with decisions.
  • Notifications begin and continue for three to five days until all externship positions fill. The Career Center sends all notifications. Please do not contact an externship host directly regarding your application status.
  • Students have 24 hours to accept or decline an offer. If you do not accept an offer within 24 hours, you forfeit the offer. The next alternate on the host’s ranked list of applicants then receives the offer.
  • An automated system e-mail offers and keeps track of acceptances, declines, and time remaining until offers expire. Students log in to the system using Carleton credentials, and can view, accept, and decline offers within.
  • All applicants should receive an acceptance or rejection email regarding each externship to which they applied. However, it is very unlikely that all these emails will arrive at the same time.
  • Once a student has accepted the offer, the student would need to register for the externship program by submitting an application.

International Students

  • First-year students are not eligible to participate in the externship program due to visa restrictions.
  • Sophomores, juniors, and seniors: if you have been in the U.S. on an F-1 visa for more than one year, you can participate in an externship that is a 100% shadowing experience with no restrictions. To participate in a non-shadowing externship, you need to use Curricular Practical Training (CPT). Please contact the Office of International Student Life to arrange for CPT.

Please note all students who are DACA recipients and have active work permits are eligible to participate in the externship program without restriction.

Need help?

The Career Center SCAs (Student Career Assistants) can help you with resources on how to find and secure externship, reviewing your application materials (résumé, cover letter, and application forms), and applying for funding. Career Coaches are also available to you by email, by appointment (via Handshake), or during drop-in hours.