Students are learning outside of the classroom with the new Bishop Externship Cohort program, and not from just anyone. The program is hosted by OWU alumni, who give students a week-long opportunity to experience professional life in their workplace.
“The official Bishop Externship program launched last year with externships being offered over spring break in various locations including New York City, Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta, Georgia,” says Melissa Bogner of OWU’s Career Services office.
This year, input from both students and alumni has led to further developments in the program. Expect to see OWU students in the professional world from October 16-18 and again during spring break, March 10-14. This fall, students will travel in groups to either Columbus or Chicago to shadow OWU alumni in their daily jobs, and network with them in the evenings. All expenses for the program have been covered through the generous sponsorship of Denis Nock ’58.
“Denis has been a long-time supporter of students at Ohio Wesleyan,” says Bogner. “His financial support has aided in removing some of the financial barriers for students associated with travel, housing, and networking event costs. We would like for more alumni and friends to become involved with the program either through providing externship opportunities with their organizations, hosting networking events in select cities, or by offering financial support to maintain and enhance the program. More alumni involvement results in more opportunities available for students! Given the increase in student applications and interest, we are eager to continue to expand the program.”
Day to day activities for students include attending staff meetings, contributing to ongoing projects, and completing weekly office tasks. The opportunity to observe professionals fulfilling important roles in their company and interacting with other employees is invaluable to students aspiring to careers in any field. “Our goal is that participation in an externship helps a student to think further about their paths and explore potential career opportunities and environments.”
While an externship is only a brief foray into the world of work, it is a wonderful way for students to find a great career fit and for employers to see what kinds of students are coming into the workplace. “The program is currently open to all majors and company types, but the more alumni become aware and involved in the program, the more diverse the exposure to industries and careers will become,” says Bogner. “This fall, there are opportunities in the arts, business, non-profit, and government.” Bogner noted that the arts area was a new addition this year, and was hopeful for even more expansion in years to come.
“We have witnessed an increase in alumni involvement this fall, which allowed for more externship opportunities for OWU students,” says Bogner. She also spoke of the careful cultivation of the program by Career Services, other campus offices, and President Rock Jones. The goal was to design a program that would stand out from similar programs at other universities, which Bogner believes is happening. OWU has a uniquely involved alumni network that she sees as an important factor in moving forward. “One of the key success factors of the program is the amount of alumni involvement,” she says. “The externship opportunities are provided solely by alumni and friends of the institution.”
Bogner revealed that even after just one year running, student and alumni interest in Bishop Externships has doubled. “For alumni and friends, the Bishop Externship provides a meaningful way to give back to Ohio Wesleyan, engage with current OWU students, and promote their organizations here on campus,” she explains. “Alumni have been impressed with the caliber of our students and students have returned to campus with a new eagerness and energy to pursue their careers.”