Externships are tremendous opportunities for college students to take classroom learning into the workplace and gain crucial experience – and those enrolled in ASPIRA City College’s Web Design, Medical Secretary, and Computer Support Specialist programs all get the chance to participate in one. We integrate this real-world requirement orient students to medical office and information technology professions, as externships provide on-the-job training and hands-on skill development. Having a completed externship on your resume will not only impress future employers but also enable you to get your new career off to a strong start.
Because externships are a vital part of the students’ experience, it’s essential to make the most of them. Have questions about how to get the best from your experience? Check out these externship tips from ASPIRA City College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
Make a Great First Impression
Some externs make such a good impression that they are hired by their externship site, pending graduation. That’s why it’s vital to make a great impression and demonstrate good employee attributes from the start. Before beginning your externship, research the company to learn more about it and its history, people, and services. Organize your notes in a one-inch binder and bring it on your first day, which will show your interest in the organization. From there, be sure to bring your binder daily and add notes you take during training and the documents you receive.
It’s also a good idea to have all the first-day details squared away, including your supervisor’s name, your hours, the dress code, and the organization’s expectations of you. Whether you plan to drive or take public transit, get the route information a few days in advance and make the trip to see how long it takes. Add 20 -30 minutes to the travel time to save yourself from needless stress caused by unexpected commuting delays. This also gets you in the routine of arriving early, a work behavior every employer appreciates. These things may seem small but demonstrating good work habits goes a long way to putting your best self forward.
Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions
The purpose of an externship is to transfer the knowledge and skills gained in the classroom to the work environment, so when appropriate, ask questions of your superiors and coworkers. It’s a good practice to check with your site supervisor about when and how best to ask questions (i.e., saving them for supervision time vs. asking them as they surface). Remember that the employer wouldn’t offer an externship if it wasn’t willing to educate externs as well. In addition to questions related to your tasks and duties, you may want to ask broader questions, including:
- Why did you choose this role and this company?
- How do workers in this role support the team as a whole?
- What skills would make someone most valuable in this position?
- What are some problems the company faces that someone in this role can help resolve?
- What do people often overlook about this job and what it takes to do it well?
- What makes this company stand out in the industry?
- How do you see this field growing and changing in the next five to ten years?
If you are an ASPIRA City College extern, you have the advantage of Round Table Sessions and on-going access to your ASPIRA Externship Coordinator. The Round Table, whether held virtually or on-campus, brings all student externs, instructors, and the Externship Coordinator together for Q&As and support.
Be Willing to Help
Remember, as an extern, you are part of a team. Be prepared to offer assistance to coworkers, even if a task seems outside of your externship duties. It’s another way to demonstrate positive work ethic and team spirit. It may also allow you to get even more hands-on experience.
Get Career-Ready with an Externship
After the externship, you may ask your direct supervisor for a recommendation. Doing all you can to inspire a positive one through your attitude and work behavior counts for a lot when you graduate and interview for career opportunities. Everyone you work with will also be a future networking contact, potential mentor, and industry peer. Make sure they remember you for hard work, dedication, and enthusiasm long after your externship ends.
If you’re still nervous about your externship, remember – your college is here to help. ASPIRA City College not only provides short-term career training to equip you with skills for the job, but it also prepares you to meet the externship site and employer expectations through its professional development curriculum. We stand by our students so they’re competent, confident, qualified, and ready to succeed as Web Designers, Medical Secretaries, and Computer Support Specialists. If you’re interested in learning more, contact us today.