Externships Offer Glimpses of Career Possibilities

by Jim H. Smith

As she completed her junior year at Trinity and began thinking in earnest about what she would do after graduation, Jynette DeMarco ’13 turned to the College’s Career Development Center for guidance. An economics and Hispanic studies major, DeMarco hoped to find a job that would enable her to combine the two areas of interest.

In the autumn of her senior year, she joined a large group of upperclassmen participating in a “trek” to New York to explore the advertising industry. The day trip–one of several to various cities–offered students opportunities to learn more about both the locations and potential careers. In New York, DeMarco and her peers met with alumni in prominent roles at leading advertising firms and toured a large agency.

As things turned out, she did not pursue a career in advertising. Instead, she landed a position as a project coordinator at a firm that provides language translation services to corporations worldwide.

Though the trek didn’t lead to employment, DeMarco is quick to affirm the benefits of the program. “It was a great experience and very valuable,” she says. “I was very impressed with the people we met, and I got real insight into the advertising industry. My decision not to pursue a career in that field was less about what I learned on the trek and more about finding a position that’s a better fit for me. The trek really validated my desire to live and work in New York.”

Dozens of Trinity students like DeMarco have benefited from the annual Trinity Days Treks since they were first offered, but until now the experience has only been available to juniors and seniors. Next spring, first- and second-year students will have an opportunity
to participate in professional externships, a complementary experience.

“The treks were designed to address the interests of upperclassmen who’ve started to zero in on careers,” explains J. Violet Gannon, director of Career Development. They offer students an opportunity to test the waters and get a sense of just how well certain careers may fi t their skills and interests, in addition to giving students a concentrated taste of both a career and a major city. “Externships, on the other hand, are designed for students who are still thinking about careers in a much broader way.”

Job-shadowing externships provide an opportunity to explore career paths and also inform students’ curriculum choices. The overnight experiences enable students to explore a “day in the life” of seasoned professionals during Trinity Days. “The program provides students with a sense of the kinds of skills, competencies, and knowledge necessary for success, enabling them to start building professional networks with alumni and parents across a range of industries,” says Gannon.

Students who wish to take part in the externship program must apply. Once they meet with Career Development Center staff for a review of their resume and cover letter, selected students participate in a mandatory training program that covers professional etiquette, networking, and other essential skills. The goal is to ensure that Trinity students are prepared for the business environment so they can make the most of the externship program.

Both the treks and the externships rely upon alumni and parents across a range of industries to provide learning opportunities for students. The externship host provides substantive exposure to his or her workplace and helps students attain industry-specific knowledge.

“Needless to say,” Gannon says, “we are most grateful for their support.” Gannon hopes the externship experience will help ensure students are actively contemplating their post-college experience early in their college careers and are taking steps to refine their skills and build networks to maximize their likelihood of finding gratifying work.

She adds that the externships, like the treks, shine a positive light on the College and its students. “They provide ‘safe’ learning opportunities, while actively engaging alumni and parents with Trinity. We trust that by showcasing the strengths of our undergraduates, firms will be more likely to recruit from Trinity in the future.”

Alumni or parents who would like to serve as mentors for Trinity externs and students who are interested in the program should e-mail the Career Development Center at careers@trincoll.edu.