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Discovery Externship Program

PORCH TIME PROGRESS—Award-winning Discovery Externship Program turned 10 this year—another example of K-Plan innovation. Click here to read more...

At Kalamazoo College, we have created a modern-day apprenticeship. In our own unique version, students live with K alumni as a part of the Discovery Externship Program. Externships are opportunities for first year and sophomore students to explore a career interest area in a hands-on setting, while building relationships that have the potential to be meaningful and lasting. They offer many of the benefits of an internship, but are shorter in duration. Some of the benefits include:

  • Access to professionals in your field of interest
  • First-hand experience in your field of interest
  • Enhancing your professional and personal skills
  • Meeting your individual learning goals
  • Reflecting on outcomes and future options
  • Networking with alumni and their colleagues
  • Mentoring and informal discussion during a Homestay

Short but Intense

Kalamazoo College has a strong, historical commitment to experiential learning. Experiential education involves "learning-by-doing." The Center for Career and Professional Development's Discovery Externship program will provide you with an opportunity to gain essential exposure in a field of interest. This program is a career development alternative to a traditional internship. Each externship, while still including planning (before) and reflecting (after), occurs over a shorter amount of time (1-4 weeks) than what is typically spent in an internship. 

Connect and Explore

Another special element of this program is that K alumni, parents or friends of Kalamazoo College sponsor externships. Externship sponsors from multiple generations of K graduates steer the program and focus on developing a mentoring relationship, in turn facilitating understanding of how elements of your specific experience at K will translate to a prospective career field. The design of Discovery Externships also encourages a look at work within the context of a bigger life, providing externs an extraordinary opportunity to connect with people who also experienced the K-Plan, many of them approaching the pinnacle of their own careers.

The length of a Discovery Externship ranges from one to four weeks depending on your host. During your externship, you may have opportunities for observation and access to other professionals in the field (comparative shadow experiences). Because of the shorter time-frame, it is not uncommon for students to fit an externship and a separate paid job into their summers. However, the CCPD views applying to the Discovery Externship Program as a very serious commitment. You should not treat this option as a "back-up plan" to other programs or opportunities. During Winter Quarter, students may apply for a total of TWO of the relationship-based opportunities offered through the Discovery Externship Program and the Field Experience Program. A smaller second round of relationship-based externship and internship opportunities becomes available during Spring Quarter.

The benefits of participating in the Discovery Externship program are many. You get a "taste of the industry" before you feel pressures to choose a certain career path. You have the opportunity to observe the day-to-day lifestyle of someone in your field, both on the job and outside of work. Furthermore, as an extern, you acquire what could prove to be a valuable connection and reference for the future, as well a source of advice—all by working and living with a Kalamazoo College alum.