Extern Program offers students job shadow experience

By Gus Bode

Students have week to shadow in chosen field or interest

Factoid:Applications can be found second floor student center at the Alumni Association Office. The deadline is 4 p.m. Nov. 19th

Her hand slowly skims the water. The creature surfaces creating tiny ripples, tentacles poised with the purpose of grappling her arm in a desperate search of freedom.


Malissa Bruno, senior in zoology, is interacting with a Giant Pacific Octopus at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. The octopus is one of the largest species in the world according to the National Parks Conservation Association.

Created in 1984 by the Alumni Association, the Extern Program provides students with a week of hands-on experience during spring break.

In the given week, students use skills learned in the classroom to work in a professional environment. Greg Scott, director of alumni public relations, said he believes the program offers a lot of opportunity for students.

“I definitely think it’s a leg up on the competition,” Scott said. “If you demonstrate a commitment to your chosen field or area, you participate in the extern program and you have that on your resume, I think a potential employer is going to look at that and be impressed with that.”

A student interested in the program must be a junior or senior, be enrolled for both spring and fall semesters and carry a minimum grade point average of 2.0.

After meeting the initial requirements, students fill out an application for the program and submit ideas of places or companies that they would like to extern at. Students are then interviewed, and if selected, paired with an appropriate sponsor matching their field or interests.

Penny Clancy, Sentinel Technologies, which is the leading installer of Cisco phone solution, currently sponsors students on a regular basis.


“It gives us the opportunity to see the individual’s work ethics, the communication skills and their ability to work within different levels of the organization,” Clancy said. “It gives us a better idea if they would or would not be the right fit for our organization.”

Clancy said the majority of the experiences are very positive, but says even the people who do not enjoy their experience still learn something valuable.

Tuesday Ashner, director of the Extern Program, agrees.

“Of all the students that have gone, there are few that didn’t enjoy their experience, but they’re not sorry that they did it because they learned that isn’t something they are going to enjoy,” Ashner said. “Even if you go and you’re not crazy about the work that you do, then you still learn something from that.”

In the past, companies such as Yosemite National Park, Chicago Board of Education, ABC- Nightline and Sony have participated.

After working an externship at Sony Music-Nashville, Stan Marczewski, management coordinator at RLM in Nashville, Tenn., received a summer internship at the same company. The contacts he made at that internship led into his employment at RLM.

Marczewski sponsored a student in last year’s program and helped her to get a job at Sony.

“Panama City Beach is always there,” he said. “You can always go back and do that, but you don’t always have an opportunity to do something that you enjoy in your life and possibly meet people that could help you get there.”