Graduate Student Externships


The Graduate Student Externship Program gives University of Chicago graduate students the opportunity to shadow graduate alumni for 1-5 days at their place of work during the summer months. Externs are able to learn more about a career field that interests them, expand their professional network, and explore their post-graduation options. The emphasis of the program is exploratory. Students are encouraged to apply to any externship that interests them, even if they have no prior experience in that industry. All that is required is a strong interest in learning more about working in that field. Most alumni hosts are working in fields outside of academia.

Externships are unpaid. However, Career Advancement is able to partially reimburse students for their travel costs for externships outside of the Chicago area.

Application Procedures

Interested students will need to submit a resume and cover letter to their desired externship opportunity. For more details about application procedures, please visit this pageAll graduate students, including those who will graduate at the end of Spring Quarter, are eligible for the program.

Benefits of the Program

Professional Development

As an extern, you will have the opportunity to explore a variety of professional development topics such as:

  • Transitioning from graduate school to the workplace
  • Discussing your skills and research experiences with potential employers
  • Employment options for a newly-minted MA, MS, or PhD
  • How you can use your remaining time in graduate school to prepare for a career in your field of interest


Networking is an essential skill for students interested in working in any field. By participating in an externship, you will have the opportunity to meet an alumni mentor with a similar educational background, expand your network of professional contacts, and practice discussing your skills and experiences in a professional context. 

Summer 2014 Program Timeline

Career Advancement will host an information session for the program on April 8, 2014 at 4:00pm in the East Lounge of Ida Noyes Hall. Attend this session to learn more about the program, receive advice on preparing your application, and get your questions answered.

Externship listings will be posted in Chicago Career Connection throughout April and May, so check frequently for new opportunities! You may apply to as many externships as you'd like. For more details on preparing your application, please visit this page. Applications for the program are due by 11:59pm on Sunday, May 18, 2014

Decisions for the program will be released in early June. Accepted students will be able to negotiate mutually convenient dates for the externship with their hosts. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be paid?

No, externships are unpaid.

What happens during an externship?

The specific activities involved in an externship vary between host sites, but some common ones include:

  • Discussing your career interests and questions with your host
  • Learning about your host's background and career path
  • Observing meetings, conference calls, and other workplace events
  • Reviewing your resume, LinkedIn profile, and other professional development materials with your host
  • Informational interviewing with your host and your colleagues
  • Assisting your host organization with small projects

Will I be able to put the externship on my resume?

Yes, you will. However, the externship will be principally an opportunity for you to get exposure to a field of interest, not necessarily to develop skills or substantive work experience in a field. Some externs do have the opportunity, however, to assist with projects during their externship.

What if I have no experience in the career field I’d like to pursue?

That’s no problem! To apply for an externship, you only need to show sincere interest in the possibility of a career in the field.

May I apply to multiple externships?

Yes. You will need to submit a different application letter addressing your specific interest(s) for each externship.

Can I participate in more than one externship?

Students who are selected to participate in the program will only be awarded one externship per year. Students may, however, apply for the program again in future summers.

May I decline the externship I am offered?

Yes. However, you will only be offered one externship, so declining your externship is also declining to participate in the program.

How long should my application letter be?

One page is the recommended length.

Will there be an interview?

No. The selection decision will be entirely based upon the application materials you submit.

Where can I get more information about the program?

Please email Chiara Montanari at