Externships in Higher Ed for PhD Students

Applications due January 29th, 2018

The Externships in Higher Ed program allows advanced doctoral students to gain hands-on, real-world career experience in administrative offices, libraries, and other centers 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 (whether faculty or non-faculty) or outside of it.

PhD students in any department or school may apply. They work approximately 8-12 hours total in their chosen center, using their significant writing, organizational skills, and research training to advance meaningful projects in the 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 Higher Ed 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 with non-faculty members of the university, through one-on-one mentoring 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

Each student may apply for a first and second choice position. Please click here for descriptions of the spring 2018 host centers and possible projects at each center. Read through this document in order to pick your first and second choice.

For more general information about participating offices, follow the links below. 

(To see last year's externships, you can download this pdf of of externship positions in spring 2017 participating host offices.)

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 Brooke Stanley at bstanl@sas.upenn.edu.


Applicants are asked to commit 8-12 hours total to their chosen office, although additional time is encouraged if the extern desires more hours and if this is feasible for the center. Externships will take place in March or April of 2018; scheduling will vary according to particular projects and the availability of both the extern and host. Career Services will work with all parties to determine a mutually agreeable time. All externships should be completed by the end of April 2018.

Externs will also attend a brief orientation session at Career Services on February 20th, 2018.

Application deadline: Monday, January 29th, 2018

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

  • a cover sheet with your full name, preferred gender pronouns, department or program, first semester of enrollment at Penn, anticipated graduation date, and the first- and second-choice offices to which you are applying. (Fill out this form)
  • 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.
    • 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

You can download this application in PDF form here. Download the list of host centers and projects for spring 2018 here in order to pick your first and second choice.

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 Brooke Stanley (bstanl@sas.upenn.edu).