Creating an Externship Experience

Every experience matters. 

For a number of years, Notre Dame students have benefited from participating in short-term externships. The Meruelo Family Center for Career Development facilitates these opportunities by supporting alumni, employers, and parents in creating externships. During the summer of 2020 with internships at a premium, the chance for having a summer experience is even more critical.  

What is an Externship?

While traditional summer internships are typically paid experiences which last 8-10 weeks, externships can range from 1 day to 4 weeks. The length of an externship is not as important as the quality of the externship. A quality, 2-day experience can be just as valuable as a week-long experience. Focus on quality, not length.

An externship is a learning opportunity for students to gain insight about a particular industry, workplace culture, and make professional connections. The most meaningful externships provide students the opportunity to work on real projects, often involving research. Quality externships allow students to network with alumni and their colleagues, participate in meetings, and work on a real project.

Academic credit is not offered for externships.


The goal of the externship is to create a meaningful experience.  The externship experience should be tailored to your type of work. Some examples of activities might include the following, consider how you can accomplish many of these items virtually for a remote experience.

  • Meetings with different departments or staff to learn about how the organization, department, or office operates
  • Attend meetings and/or events (staff meetings, etc.)
  • Shadow staff (not only the externship coordinator, but also other staff in the organization)
  • Conduct informational interviews with other staff, recruiters, hiring managers, etc.
  • Participate on a project team (even as an observer)
  • Review/proofread documents
  • Conduct market research
  • Provide input on short term projects
  • Suggest improvements to existing processes
  • Proofread materials
  • Data management projects
  • Tour facilities

Things to Think About

Sometimes the small details can make a big difference in creating a quality experience.

  • Start and end date
  • Hours (when to report, hours expectations, etc.)
  • Where to report for in-person externships (e.g. front desk, need for ID, etc.)
  • Parking/transportation directions (if applicable)
  • Workspace (if necessary)
  • Plans for lunch hour


Externships are typically unpaid.  Some externship sites provide meals, offer financial support for transportation to and from externship location, paid parking, etc.

Reaching an Agreement

The externship host and student should agree to the expectations of the externship through clear communication. Here is a template you can edit and utilize as it fit's your organization's needs. 

Next Steps

Externship 01

The Center for Career Development utilizes Handshake, an online platform where students can apply for jobs, RSVP for events, etc.  Please submit your information through this form and our staff will post your opportunity on our Handshake site.

Thank you for your submission, one of our career development staff will be in touch with you within 48 hours.

General Resources 

The following resources are provided to employer, alumni, parents, and friends of Notre Dame.

Questions about creating an externship can be directed to our staff by calling 574-631-5200 or sending us an email at