PhD Externship Program 2019

Applications due January 31st, 2019

2019_Extern_Cohort_resize.jpg The 2019 cohort of externs

The primary goal of the PhD Externship Program is to encourage non-faculty career exploration among doctoral students by facilitating shadowing experiences and fostering mentorship relationships with advanced-degree holding professionals. This unpaid opportunity allows doctoral students to gain hands-on, real-world career experience in administrative offices, libraries, and other centers on Penn's campus and in the Philadelphia area. Students can use this experience to cultivate a stronger professional profile and to develop career-readiness competencies and administrative skills in preparation for a range of careers.

The program was created in 2017 to help meet the need for career development among doctoral students interested in pursuing non-faculty tracks. Previously, the program targeted administrative roles in various centers throughout Penn's campus. Last year, seventeen students externed with eleven on-campus hosts. This year, we have expanded the opportunities both within and beyond the university to support a wider range of student backgrounds.

PhD students in any department or school within the University may apply. Externs will attend meetings when appropriate and discuss with their host the various aspects of the host's position, including specific responsibilities, organizational dynamics, external networks, etc. Additionally, externs at on-campus offices may have the opportunity to use their significant writing, organizational skills, and research training to advance meaningful projects in the host office. Projects are not available at off-campus offices.

*Please note: Because this is an unpaid career exploration opportunity, there are no Visa restrictions for international students.


The PhD Externship Program has the following aims:

  • Facilitate non-faculty career exploration for PhD students
  • Educate graduate students about university administration and the roles and responsibilities of senior administrators, librarians, and others
  • Allow graduate students to form relationships and create networks with non-faculty members of the university and with Philadelphia-area graduate-alumni, through one-on-one mentoring and professional development activities
  • Enhance the professional and leadership skills of graduate students
  • Facilitate students' ability to conduct informational interviews as part of their career exploration and networking
  • Provide experiences that can be described in skill-focused ways within CVs, resumes and cover letters

Participating Offices for 2019

Please click here for descriptions of the spring 2019 host centers and possible projects at each center. 

Each student may indicate a first, second, and third choice externship opportunity in their application. Be sure to read through the host center descriptions in order to select your choices and compose your personal statement.

On-Campus Hosts:

Off-Campus Hosts:

(Host lists from 2017 and 2018)


Externs will attend a brief orientation session at Career Services on February 19, 2019, from 10:00-11:30am in McNeil Room 97. 

We estimate that externships entail 8-10 hours of mentorship and shadowing activities, in addition to time devoted to the optional project. Optional projects may entail an additional 10-15 hours of work, although further time is encouraged if the extern desires more hours and if this is feasible for the center. Externships will take place between the extern-orientation in mid-February and the end of April; scheduling will vary according to particular projects and the availability of both the extern and host. All externships should be completed by the end of April 2019.

Application Deadline: Thursday, January 31st, 2019

Application Materials

Applications open Wednesday, January 16th, and will be submitted through Handshake: 

Candidates should prepare the following materials:

  • a cover sheet detailing: your name, program, program start and anticipated end dates, and your top three externship choices
  • a brief personal statement (maximum of 500 words) that addresses professional career goals and how participation in this program will help meet them; and expectations and desires for the externship experience.
    • Indicate your top three choices, and be as specific as possible. If there are particular projects you'd like to work on, let us know. (What projects externs complete will ultimately depend both on the needs of the host center and the extern's interests.) If you don't have ideas, that's ok too! Just start thinking about what you'd like out of the experience.
  • a curriculum vitae or resume

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Cindy Susalla (