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Externships, the latest in career preparation for students

For The Heights

Published: Sunday, November 18, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01

It’s a competitive world out there, but no one preparing to enter the job market needs to be told that. With an increasing amount of viable careers asking that students come out of college with working experience, students need to take advantage of every opportunity they can get. An externship, a one to two day alternative to a full-length internship, is a growing way to gain an edge in the job market and is a practice gaining increased popularity through the Boston College Career Center.

"An externship can be best defined as job shadowing," said Louis Gaglini, BC’s associate director for Employer Relations. Externships occur when a student is hosted by an employee at a company and spends the day with that host, asking questions about the specific business and the general career field.

"I’ve been known to say that internships are the new entry level," Gaglini said, adding that externships create more options for this type of opportunity.

While the externship program at BC has been around for a while, Gaglini said that the Career Center only recently began increasing the program’s publicity. "We’re currently in our third year of doing it at this level," he said.

The program is targeted especially at sophomores and juniors, and outreach for the program begins after BC’s career fair. The career fair serves not only as a time to reach out to students to join the program, but also for employers that may be willing to serve as hosts to students in the program.

"The first place we look is to our alumni," Gaglini said of looking for hosts. "They’re excited about helping BC students."

The program also appears to benefit employers as well. "It’s a great opportunity for them to reach beyond the students they typically interview in the recruiting process," Gaglini said. He offered an example, saying that companies usually focused on interviewing finance students may find themselves alongside a history student with great potential.

"We do hear stories of students saying that their externship resulted in an interview that resulted in an internship," Gaglini said.

Gaglini hopes that the matching process of students and hosts will be completed by the end of November. "It’s a very deliberate, manual process trying to match a student with their desired externship."

With the popularity of externships on the rise, however, Gaglini said that the program has more students interested in participating in an externship than can actually be accommodated with the given number of hosts. "This is something we will have to deal with as an office," said Gaglini of the desire to have as many students involved as possible.

Another measure taken to assure that as many students as possible have an opportunity to participate is that externships organized by BC are limited to one day. As all externships will take place during the week of Jan. 7, 2013, there are only five days across which to spread student participants. If employers are willing to host for more than one day, then another student is given a chance to participate on the second day.

To apply for an externship through the BC Career Center, students need to apply online and submit a resume.

Tej Mehta, A&S ’15, independently completed a one-day externship at Investment Technology Group (ITG) in its Manhattan office this past summer, as recommended by a friend.

"We spent the day learning about the company and what they do, shadowing different members of the company, networking, and having our resumes critiqued," Mehta said.

Mehta, who also had experience doing a full internship at a law firm, noted the differences between an internship and an externship. He said that an internship "immerses you into the company itself and has you engage in their day to day operations as if you are an employee" whereas an externship gives one "the role of an outside observer."

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