Externships in Academic Administration

Spring 2017

Center for Teaching and Learning

The Center for Teaching and Learning promotes teaching excellence at the University of Pennsylvania. CTL works to help instructors at Penn excel in their teaching, to enhance the culture of teaching at the university, and, in turn, to increase the quality of education at Penn.

CTL consults individually with instructors considering diverse teaching challenges or ambitions, and offers a wide array of teaching workshops and discussions. To encourage instructors to reflect on their own teaching and engage with each other, CTL brings faculty and other instructors together for collegial, often faculty-led, conversations.

Instructors at all levels of experience and expertise participate, from senior faculty to new teaching assistants, from those acclaimed to those struggling. Instructors from across Penn are welcome at CTL programs and can consult with CTL about their teaching.

Possible projects for externs include:

  • Document stories of innovative teaching (e.g. take photos of classes and compose short narratives about them)
  • Contribute to teaching-based research projects
  • Research and develop teaching-related web content to support CTL programs
  • Promote CTL events and projects through web, social media, email, and other outlets
  • Perform other tasks as needed

LGBT Center

The Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Center at Penn, one of the oldest and most active programs of its kind in the country, supports Penn lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students, staff, alumni, and faculty and increases the general Penn community's understanding and acceptance of its sexual and gender minority members. Established in 1982, the Center provides a variety of services throughout the year for and concerning Penn's lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. The primary activities of the Center are outreach and education, supportive services for individuals and campus organizations, including network facilitation, and advocacy for sensitive, inclusive University policies and practices.

Possible projects for externs include:

  • Research, plan, and publicize an event
  • Develop web content
  • Engage in student outreach
  • Prepare fliers, brochures, and/or grant applications
  • Benchmark research
  • Staff resource fairs
  • Perform other tasks as needed

Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships

Research Extern

The Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF) helps Penn undergraduates pursue independent research through personal Research Consultations and administration of competitive research grants. As one of the world's leading research universities, Penn has a broad array of faculty conducting cutting-edge research in all disciplines. CURF helps Penn undergraduates become involved in research by helping them identify resources, narrow their search, and shape their initial inquiries so they can find appropriate faculty mentors and research funding.


Projects will depend on the extern's interests and qualifications, but possibilities include:

  • Assist with student information sessions
  • Assist with marketing and advertising (design flyers, pamphlets, etc.)
  • Develop web content
  • Assist with grant writing
  • Maintain the directory of faculty in need of undergraduate research assistants
  • Assist with assessment (analyze data, generate reports, etc.)
  • Participate in Research and Fellowship Week and/or Quaker Days
  • Shadow advising appointments
  • Perform other tasks as needed


Applicants should have some experience with grant writing; be willing to work with a range of people (from undergraduates to senior administrators); be able to adjust to different audiences (in both writing and speaking); be able to work to deadlines; be available after hours for certain events; be detail-oriented. Experience working with big data preferred.

Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships

Fellowships Extern

The Fellowships team at Penn's Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowships (CURF, https://www.curf.upenn.edu/) serves undergraduates, graduate students, and alumni across all twelve Penn schools by educating them on finding and applying for opportunities that fund undergraduate tuition, graduate study, research, and service projects at Penn and beyond.

An arm of the Provost's Office, CURF was established in 2001 to encourage and support greater engagement by Penn students in national and international fellowship competitions. CURF has dramatically increased the number of applications and recipients for major fellowships, and Penn is now annually among the top ten US universities (and top three Ivy League institutions) in producing student Fulbright grantees. CURF's mission includes managing two cross-campus Provostial academic programs, the Benjamin Franklin Scholars program and the University Scholars program. CURF staff also work closely with faculty by supporting selection committees for fellowships, advising and selecting applicants seeking undergraduate research funding, and advising students and supporting faculty selection committees for Penn's new Presidential Engagement and Innovation prizes, which aim to foster social activism among recent graduates.

Possible projects for externs include:

  • Develop engaging web content (including social media)
  • Assist with communications and outreach efforts
  • Collect data and create and manage databases
  • Create CURF events targeted for graduate students &/or underrepresented students


Candidates should have an interest in working with students and learning about how a large decentralized research university functions. A commitment to student engagement and development and some experience in and enthusiasm for student outreach is expected. Much of CURF's work is structured around relationship building and outreach, so candidates should have an interest in building their skills in those areas.


Graduate Student Center

The Graduate Student Center was established in 2001 to encourage the development of Penn's graduate and professional student community through academic and social initiatives. The Center:

  • empowers graduate and professional students to create and participate in a graduate community at Penn.
  • creates intellectual, social, and professional development programs to bring together the wide range of graduate and professional students at Penn for cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural exchanges.
  • provides services to support graduate and professional students at Penn and in Philadelphia.
  • provides graduate and professional students with a centrally-located home that includes a lounge, computer lab, and meeting space.


Applicants are invited to shadow a staff member at the Grad Center/Family Center. A large component of this externship will involve participation in staff meetings, after which staff members will discuss how those meetings connect to larger student affairs support arenas.

Science Outreach Initiative

The Science Outreach Initiative (SOI) serves faculty and other researchers in the University of Pennsylvania's School of Arts and Sciences by helping them develop outreach program ideas and proposals, locating potential partners, and promoting information and resource exchange among all of Penn's STEM outreach programs.

The SOI was established in 2012 to encourage and support faculty participation in initiatives towards the development of research efforts which will more broadly impact public understanding of science. Advancing the frontiers of science through research is crucial to our Nation's future, as is the development of a more scientifically literate citizenry. Major external funders like the National Science Foundation now place an emphasis on "Broader Impacts" -- initiatives which work towards this scientific literacy goal. The SOI staff will guide interested researchers through the process of effectively responding to outreach requirements of funding agencies, including the "Broader Impacts" criterion.

Possible projects for externs include:

  • Review and produce content for SOI's website and social media platforms
  • Assist with communication and outreach efforts
  • Collect data and create databases
  • Promote SOI events
  • Assist with grant proposals
  • Assist with program implementation (either at Penn or in collaboration with the National Alliance of Broader Impacts)
  • Compile information for a newsletter promoting science opportunities for high school students
  • Assist with SOI programs that place high school students in Penn labs
  • Assist with the planning of Penn's many activities associated with the Philadelphia Science Festival (staged in late April)


Candidates should have a background in the natural sciences and should have some level of experience with volunteer work and/or public outreach. Much of SOI's work is structured around relationship building and partnerships, so candidates should have an interest in those areas.

College Houses and Academic Services

The twelve College Houses bring together undergraduates, faculty, staff, and graduate students to form vibrant residential communities within the larger context of campus. As a division of the Provost's Office, our mission is to bring the academic life of the classroom into our living spaces. We have roughly 5600 residents in total, primarily freshman, though Penn undergraduates may remain in residence for all four years if they wish.

Each House has a Faculty Director, one or more Fellows, a House Dean, a House Coordinator, a plentiful staff of student Residential Advisors (RAs) and Graduate Associates (GAs), student Information Technology Advisors (ITAs), and many student managers in key positions. Each House offers countless cultural, academic, and recreational events, personal services, and leadership opportunities. Every House is different in its focus and traditions, but all offer the same great amenities and avenues for self-discovery and enrichment. Over 40 specialized "theme floors," called Residential Programs, provide smaller, tight-knit communities within the Houses.

In tandem with the Department of Residential Services, the College House experience offers the following advantages:

  • In-house academic advising
  • Credit courses and workshops in-house
  • Free in-house tutoring in Chemistry, Economics and Math
  • Penn faculty and staff as neighbors and mentors
  • House-based Research Fellowship opportunities
  • Over 30 interest-based Residential Programs
  • Reduced price tickets to a dozens of House-sponsored events
  • Leadership opportunities in House governance, Residential Advisory Board
  • Dinners and informal events every night of the week
  • Personal support and advice from RA and GA staff

Possible projects for externs include:

  • Assist with RA/GA training
  • Participate in a resource fair or residential program fair
  • Develop online training modules
  • Assist with one of the Signature Programs (themes include undergraduate research, music, and cinema)
  • Assist with assessment, including analysis of survey data
  • Assist with recruitment
  • Perform other tasks as needed.

Projects will vary from house to house. Ultimately, each applicant should arrive with some learning outcomes already in mind. The extern will then work with the host department to develop a project that matches those objectives. CHAS will accept up to five externs, who will then be placed in various residence halls or offices based upon their interests.

Candidates should possess the following skills: critical thinking, accountability, and a willingness to learn.

Harnwell College House

Harnwell House is home to five residential programs: the Cultures Collective, comprising the East Asia House, the Latin American Program, and the International Program; Arts House; and Ancient Studies. These residential programs embrace international and cultural distinctiveness and give the House a feel all its own. Harnwell boasts a variety of performance and arts related facilities, and activities are frequently planned to bring artists and different cultural perspectives right to the residents in the House. Harnwell is home to about 800 people.


Projects can be created based on the interests of the extern, but possibilities include:

  • Assist with managing the in-house cafe
  • Create an event, lecture series, or book club
  • Contribute to the weekly newsletter
  • Prepare packets for rising sophomores about choosing a major
  • Organize a TableTalk event
  • Assist with administrative tasks

Sansom West College House

The College House at Sansom West is a community of sophomores, juniors and seniors who enjoy the privacy that high-rise living affords but also appreciate the camaraderie, engagement and fun that comes from living with smart people who are plugged in to the best that Penn and Philadelphia have to offer.

The resident Faculty Director, House Fellows, House Dean, Resident Advisors and Graduate Associates are dedicated individuals interested in providing personal and professional developmental opportunities for upperclass students. House staff and faculty have a special commitment to Philadelphia, providing residents with the chance to get exposure to local politics and service opportunities while helping them gain an understanding of the social and political structures of the City of Brotherly Love. 

Programming will include excursions with guides to local sporting events, restaurants, theater, shopping destinations and historical sites. While many in the community are from hometowns far away, it is not uncommon for Philadelphia natives to join in the fun and learn more about the city they grew up in. Additionally, with the support of the staff, the House residents are encouraged to plan, design and offer unique programs and activities showcasing their passions and expertise!

Possible projects for externs include:

  • Assist with the annual resident survey or other forms of assessment
  • Assist with planning future programs
  • Create an event for residents (possible topics include professional development, networking, or research)
  • Create documents to define the mission of the new residence hall, Hill House
  • Assist with the logistics of move-in for the new residence hall
  • Perform other tasks as needed


Preference will be given to candidates who can work independently, are creative, can engage with undergraduates, are able to identify their own goals/outcomes, and are interested in applying their research to a student life environment. College Houses and Academic Services is structured around student engagement, so a genuine interest in interacting with students is essential.

Stouffer College House

Stouffer College House, comprising Stouffer Hall and Mayer Hall, stands as one of the strongest community atmospheres on campus. Stouffer is home to about 300 undergraduates, 10 GAs (Graduate Assistants), a Faculty Director, 2 College House Fellows, and a House Dean. Stouffer College House boasts one of the highest retention rates on campus, which is indicative of the lasting friendships and contacts that are formed by House members.

A crucial part of the Stouffer community is the Steering Committee. Comprising 24 students (two representatives from each floor/section), the House Dean, and the Faculty Director, Steering is the official government of the House and funds the majority of activities. This allows for ANY interested resident to run or request events, making Stouffer truly student directed. All house events are free for residents, from GA-organized events like Friday Night Films, Lunar New Year celebrations, and numerous study breaks, to the annual gala "Stouffer Semi-Formal." The House also generates a monthly newsletter, which updates students on the buildings' happenings.

Potential projects for externs include:

  • Assist with data analysis of in-house evaluations
  • Assist with outreach to potential residents
  • Attend staff training sessions
  • Attend floor meetings
  • Collaborate with staff members on projects related to development, pre-major advising, the disciplinary process, etc.


Stouffer is seeking candidates who are genuinely interested in getting to know people and who have excellent communication skills.