IUPUI Students Use Externships to Improve Job Outlook

INDIANAPOLIS - A recent study finds that young adults are the hardest hit in today's job market. One college program is giving its undergrads a shot at improving their chances upon graduation.

A year ago, Nicole Miller was undecided about her major as an incoming college freshman.

"Being able to see the occupational therapist in an actual setting at work and what she does on a day to day basis, it was really helpful," Miller said.

Nicole is now a pre-nursing major and credits the "externship" program here at IUPUI. More than 100 students fan out on a single day to area workplaces.

Jill Vanderwall is the Experiential Learning Coordinator at IUPUI.

"An externship I see as either an opportunity for a student to confirm the road they're headed down is the right one or it's a turning point where they say 'Oh, this isn't quite what I had in mind'," said Jill Vanderwall, Experiential Learning Coordinator at IUPUI.

IUPUI has signed up around 50 area employers to allow students a closeup look at a possible career. The program is aimed at getting college students a leg up on the field, especially at a time when young adults are having the hardest time of any age group finding a job.

"This program helps students find their niche earlier, because it used to be you could graduate and find something in any field," Vanderwall said.

Sophomore Tory Schendel says it's more than just a job shadow program. She now has a job at the very place she completed her externship last year, the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

"The externship really solidified what I wanted to do, because I got to see curators on site, I got to speak with them, they work with more of your paint collections at IMA and that's what I want to get into," Schendel said.

Sophomore Travis Tornquist says the program has put him on track for a career in accounting.

"I was undecided. I wound up with an externship at the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance," he said. "Ultimately, it's one of the big reasons why I decided to pursue my majors."

Vanderwall says IUPUI is "hoping that it's an experience that helps them explore their major or confirm where they're headed."

IUPUI says more than 360 students have applied for the 100 externships now available which speaks to the program's remarkable success.

View the WTHR video here.