Externships in Academic Administration

Stay tuned for details of the 2017-2018 Externships in Academic Administration program!

The Externships in Academic Administration program allows advanced doctoral students to gain hands-on, real-world career experience each semester in administrative offices across Penn's campus. This program is intended to enhance graduate student career preparation and readiness by supplementing the training PhD students receive in research and teaching with an introduction to the day-to-day operations of the University. Students can use this experience to cultivate a stronger professional profile and to develop career-readiness competencies and administrative skills in preparation for a career in academia or outside of it.

PhD students in any department or school may apply. They work approximately 8-12 hours total in their chosen administrative office, using their significant writing, organizational skills, and research training to advance meaningful projects in their host office. In addition to these projects, externs will attend meetings when appropriate and discuss with the host the various aspects of the host's position, including specific responsibilities, organizational dynamics, external networks, etc.


The Externships in Academic Administration program has the following aims:

  • Facilitate non-faculty career exploration for graduate students
  • Educate graduate students about university administration and the roles and responsibilities of senior administrators
  • Expose graduate students to senior administrators through one-on-one mentoring relationships and professional development activities
  • Enhance the 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

Click here for descriptions of externship positions in the spring 2017 participating host offices, or download a pdf. Each student may apply for a first- and second-choice position. For general information about participating offices, follow the links below.

If you are interested in working at an office not listed here, or if you are a University Office interested in hosting an extern, please contact Alison Howard at alhoward@sas.upenn.edu.


Applicants are asked to commit 8-12 hours to their chosen office. The externships will be staggered throughout the spring semester; scheduling will vary according to the particular projects and availability of both the extern and host. Career Services will work with all parties to determine a mutually agreeable time.

Application deadline: March 3, 2017

Application Materials
Candidates should submit the following materials combined into one PDF attachment:

  • a cover sheet with your full name, department or program, first semester of enrollment at Penn, anticipated graduation date, and the first- and second-choice offices to which you are applying (click here to download our application form)
  • a brief personal statement (maximum of 500 words) that addresses professional career goals and how participation in this program will help meet those goals
  • a curriculum vitae or resume

All application materials should be submitted to Tara Giangrande (taragian@upenn.edu) with the subject line: PHD EXTERNSHIP APPLICATION.

If you have any questions about this program, please contact Alison Howard (alhoward@sas.upenn.edu).