During winter and spring breaks this year, about 300 Rice University students participated in job-shadowing opportunities through the Owl Edge Externship Program, managed by the Center for Career Development (CCD).
These externships, which last from one to five days, covered a wide variety of industry clusters, from global organizations to hospitals and schools, local nonprofits, public policy and architecture.
Although the majority of externships are concentrated in Texas, externs completed experiences across the country and world. This is the power of the Rice community: alumni, parents and friends of the university who opened the doors of their workplace to allow a student to explore a job function, organization or industry.
Externships aren’t “take your child to work day.” Students don’t expect nor do they want to look over shoulders at computer screens. Instead, externs tour an organization, attend meetings with hosts, shadow visits with clients and even work on small projects. Students have a chance to ask their host questions and seek advice about careers through the informational interview, the one constant in every externship experience.
Rice is the element that binds this experience. Whether the host spends time on campus as a student, a parent or as a member of the Houston community, Rice is at the core of this experience.
Having completed its fifth year, the CCD understands this program is now embedded in the Rice experience. Seniors have always had access to externships. A former head peer career adviser has taken advantage of five externships during her time at Rice and each experience influenced career decision-making.
“If it weren’t for the externships that I did through the CCD, I would have no idea that I didn’t want to go into research,” said Shikha Avancha ’19. “So these kinds of experiences, where the CCD is able to connect you with people that are in the fields that you might want to go into, allows you to really explore and understand.”
Not all students walk away with a career or major academic pivot. During orientation, students learn they should find equal value in an externship when they leave thinking it reinforced a potential career path or if the experience eliminates an interest. These short-term externships have lasting power — building a professional network is one perk, and the CCD urges students to keep in touch with their hosts.
Recently, an on-campus host from OpenStax said, “I love doing this every year. I try to get my colleagues to participate too if they can. I think it’s incredibly beneficial for students to have this experience.”
The CCD appreciates hosts who participate each session and welcomes new hosts and former externs who are now professionals to register. Learn more at https://ccd.rice.edu/employers/externships.
— Michelle Passo