Cornell University

Extern Program

We welcome alumni, parents, other professionals, and graduate students to engage with current Cornell students. See Registration Forms to register for the winter break Extern program.

The Extern Program offers career-exploration opportunities for Cornell sophomores, juniors, and seniors during Winter break. No compensation is involved, and students are responsible for their own transportation and accommodations.

We encourage students to explore broadly, and to experience a field that may have piqued their interest, but in which they have no exposure or experience. Other students already have defined career interests, and the externship visit will provide them with workplace exposure to assess their “fit” with that work environment, help narrow their focus, or change their direction. 

Externships can be shadowing visits lasting one-to-two days or longer for a project; or can be a one-on-one or group information interview or lunch meeting depending on the sponsor's organization policies and the availability. Students prefer shadowing opportunities, but any interaction with professionals in their field of interest is extremely valuable.

What activities are beneficial to students?

  • Talk with the student about your career field, your career path and decision-making, your organization, and your job responsibilities.
  • Have the student attend appointments and meetings with you, if feasible.
  • Set up a meeting with others in your organization (especially those at varying levels and positions).
  • Arrange a tour or assign a career-related project or task.

How are students selected?

Students from all colleges are eligible, and sponsors can list preferences of college/major or interests based on your background, field, organization, or project. You specify your preferences and Cornell will match an extern with you. You may even specify a day or date(s) for the externship, or leave the timing open for negotiation with your assigned student(s). Our goal is to match as many students with win-win experiences as possible.

Retired? Travel? In graduate school? Work in a confidential setting?

If your work setting is not conducive to visits from students, or if you are retired or between jobs, we encourage you to offer an informational interview in the form of a lunch/dinner meeting, a phone or skype conversation. Even brief interaction with alumni, professionals and graduate students can provide a wealth of information to a student weighing career and academic decisions.

Ready to become a sponsor?

Register online

Registration Deadlines For January Externships:

September 15 for your externship to be included in the early application period or October 15 to be included in Round 2.

Other Considerations

Insurance Coverage: Some sponsor’s organizations will have liability provisions for visitors or volunteers with the organization, others may not.* We publish the following statement for student participants:I understand that Cornell does not provide liability insurance for me as a participant in the Cornell Extern Program and that I should discuss with my sponsor what insurance coverage the sponsor provides for me, if any. I understand that I participate in the Cornell Extern Program voluntarily and separate from Cornell University, and that the University is not responsible in the event I suffer personal injury, accident or personal loss or for claims against me resulting from my participation in the program or with the sponsor.

*We will provide limited liability coverage for those sponsors who request/require it (typically medical facilities and some legal organizations.)

NEW Recognition thank you letters available: If your participation with Cornell and the Extern Program would contribute to your organization’s branding or service activity, and would benefit you for promotion or annual review purposes, please complete the Extern Sponsor evaluation and include to whom we should address such a letter. You may include the language we should include for your organization (i.e. branding, outreach, community service, etc.).

NEW Sponsor Networking searchable link: We will provide a searchable database online, accessible through your Extern username and password, that allows you to find other Cornellians and Extern sponsors working at your organization, in your career field, or geographic area. We find that several sponsors work together to coordinate their students’ visits, and that often Cornellians do not know the other alumni at their organization. We hope to hear your feedback so we can improve this new opportunity to find and network with each other.

Contact Information:
externsponsor@cornell.edu