2020-2021 UPDATE 

Given the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on organizations, the Center for Career Education (CCE) continues to monitor the situation and work with employers to understand their hiring needs. We will include additional information as it becomes available about 2021 CCE Internship Programs.   For further  information regarding recent CCE events and information, visit the Spring Updates and Weekly Roundup.

The Columbia Exploration Externship (CEE) is designed to provide you with the opportunity to gain exposure to the professional world early in your college career.  Externships are held in the greater New York City area during spring break week.  

As part of the program, there will be a variety of industries represented and you will be able to indicate industry preferences in your application. This exciting program has been offered since 2013.

Program Features

The CEE program is an opportunity to shadow and observe a career professional/alumnus in an industry of interest and explore a potential career path.  Program features include the following:

  • Pre-program training that includes tips on making the most of the externship experience, professional dress and etiquette, and networking and career goal setting.

  • Externship experience for two to four days during spring break, in you will work alongside career professionals to gain an understanding of a field of interest.

  • Site visit (optional) to an organization to learn about a career, company, and/or industry beyond the externship experience.  You will have the option of attending a half-day group site visit on the Friday of spring break. 

  • End-of-program reflection session during which you meet to discuss the experience and next steps of career-mapping.

Program Benefits 

You will:

  • Shadow a professional/alumnus and gain exposure to a career field of interest

  • Acquire knowledge of how to apply academics in a workplace setting

  • Make career connections and successfully build and sustain professional networks

  • Learn how to assess fit in a particular field and expand understanding of a possible career path


  • You must be a full-time first-year undergraduate currently enrolled student in both the fall and spring semesters in Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, or The School of General Studies

  • Students who are on leave of absence or have withdrawn from Columbia University are not eligible

*By submitting an application, you authorize the Center for Career Education to conduct academic and disciplinary checks to confirm program eligibility. Certain University policy violations may disqualify you from consideration for the program.

Application Process & Timeline 

Application Process:

The CEE application will be posted in LionSHARE.  Under the jobs tab using the label function, search “CEE- Columbia Exploration Externship” to locate the posting.

The following documents must be submitted through LionSHARE:

  • Resume

  • Transcript (can be unofficial): this is your current semester course schedule, which you can access by logging into Student Services Online, clicking on “My Schedule” and copying and pasting your course schedule into a Word Document. The schedule should show your full name, your school, your current courses, and your enrollment status.

  • Answers to three separate essay questions in a PDF or a Word Document

Additionally, you must submit your personal information and industry preferences through the online application.


December & January- On-campus CEE Information Sessions

Early January — CEE application available on LionSHARE and on CCE’s website

End of January — Application deadline for CEE

Mid February- Offers made to candidates selected for the program

Beginning of March — Pre-program trainings (participants required to attend one session)

Middle of March (Spring Break)- Externships takes place and optional site visit day

End of March- Reflection Session


What is the difference between an externship and an internship?

An externship is an experiential opportunity designed to give you a short, practical perspective of a specific field or industry of interest.  The following “catch phrases” often go hand-in-hand with describing externships: exploration, shadow, informational, and mini internship. Externships are typically an unpaid experience.

Who is eligible to participate in this program?

CEE is open to first year students from only Columbia College, The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, or The School of General Studies.

How would I be selected for the extern program?

We will conduct a thorough screening of applicants and work as a committee to select and match externs with participating organizations.  Acceptance to the program is based on three criteria: (1) the potential value of participating in CEE based on your interest and past experiences as described in your application; (2) the quality of your application within the context of the whole applicant pool; (3) the availability of externships in your industries of interest.

Are there costs to participate in this program?

You will be responsible for your expenses including, transportation, meals, and lodging if necessary. This is an unpaid program.

What resources will I be provided in order to be best prepared for the externship experience?

You will have the opportunity to attend an information session in December and January to learn more about what an externship consists of and why/how you can use an experiential opportunity like this to start thinking about your career.  Once selected as an extern, you will receive:

  • A pre-professional workshop prior to the externship consisting of tips on making the most of the externship experience, professional dress and etiquette, and networking and career goal setting
  • A guide to making the most of your externship with resources compiled from CCE
  • A session at the completion of your externship to unpack your experience and to help you think about and articulate next steps in your career development

What might I do during the externship?

  • Sit in on company staff meetings and other functions
  • Complete office tasks or assist with projects
  • Conduct informational interviews of both professional and administrative staff
  • Observe client interactions
  • Observe functions and duties of a particular career
  • Tour the facilities
  • Review organization’s mission/vision statement and organizational charts

  • Understand office policies and procedures

  • Review current trends in the profession

  • Explore potential career paths within the organization and the profession

  • Meet with key players of the organization

  • Assist with research projects, proofreading, editing