The ACU Career Center, in conjunction with the ACU Alumni Office, has been developing a new externship program for ACU students. The program would pair students with ACU alumni, which would better equip students in their respective desired fields by observing those in that field.
Different from internships, externships, specifically concerning those that are being created through this new program, are on a short-term basis, usually spanning one to three days, and involve the shadowing of people with careers matching that student’s interests. This allows the student to better understand the field that they are planning to enter into while networking with people who can give the student better opportunities in the future.
“We’re always trying to create more opportunities for students to have hands-on experience, and to get ahead when you graduate, you have to have experience, while also trying to find ways for alums to be more engaged with our students, because they want to find ways to give back, and this program allows us to do that,” said Jill Fortson, director of the Career Center.
Different from networking, one of the most effective parts of an externship is that they allow students to observe someone who is in the field that the student is interested in, which helps the student decide if they truly are interested in that field before taking on major responsibilities, such as an internship or classes that pertain to that major.
Fortson said that although she expected a good response from the ACU alumni regarding participation in the program, the positive response exceeded her expectations.
“They’re excited to be able to give back in this way,” Fortson said. “Everyone we asked was thrilled. And that says a lot about our alumni because they’re not really getting anything from this, like they would with an intern actually doing work and completing projects. The student really is gaining everything from the experience, but the alums love this opportunity to do something for a student that they wish they would have had.”
The program is currently in the pilot stage and is being evaluated by thirteen different students, ranging in classification and major, allowing the Career Center to better the program before opening it up to the student body as a whole.
“I think it’s going to be huge,” Fortson said. “I think it’s going to be a big undertaking, with how many students were expect to be interested, but I also think that it’s possible, if we publicize it right, that we could have a lot of benefit from being involved in it, and that’s what we want.”