'Explorships' let students shadow jobs

By April DeJarlais

This year the Internship Program office is partnering with the Career Development Center and the Alumni Board to pilot a program in which students can shadow a Macalester alum over J-term. Officially called a “Career Explorship,” the program is not for academic credit and is limited to the Twin Cities for its first year.

Students can negotiate the amount of time they spend with their respective alumni. They can choose to shadow the alumni for a single day or several weeks, in contrast to J-term internships which last three weeks and are worth up to two credits. “Explorship” students are eligible to live on campus during the break.

The idea for the program, geared particularly at sophomores, was born out of the Student Support Committee of the Alumni Board in order to provide students with observational experience in the workplace.

“It is a great opportunity for students who don’t really know what they want to do,” Internship Program Director Michael Porter said.

As of Oct. 28, 30 alumni have demonstrated an interest in hosting a student, and 20 current students showed interest in the program. The Alumni Board will be responsible for pairing students with alumni in their desired field.

Students are still encouraged to participate even if there is no alum in their area of interest. Porter stressed keeping an “open mind” about the program and emphasized its merits as a networking tool.

“There is a lot to gain from talking to a successful worker,” he said.

Macalester and Carleton College are the only Minnesota private schools that offer this type of program. Porter said there are two common models for a career shadow program; one in which students and alumni facilitate the experience without administration, versus Macalester’s approach that involves Internship Office guidance, but no faculty involvement.

Involving administration creates a more formal connection between the alumnus, their respective organization or company and the college, Porter said. The college is then in a position to gain more access to internships and potential jobs for students.

Although “Explorships” are only offered in the Twin Cities for the pilot year, Porter said he “would love to see it expand” to include Macalester alumni worldwide, in order to give students a broader experience.

“We want to gauge and see what kind of interest there is to explore various careers over the January break before we ‘roll it out’ to other cities,” associate director of Alumni Relations Stephen Sporer said in an e-mail.

The application for the program is at the Internship Program Office’s website and is due by Nov. 13. Students will be notified of a potential alumni match by Thanksgiving Break.