by Cindy Schrauben
Jack Lundeen ’69 may have left Kalamazoo College decades ago but the school has never left his heart. Lundeen stayed in touch with “K,” donated money, and hosted alumni gatherings at his Portland, Oregon, home. Still, he wondered how else he could make a substantial contribution to the College. After an alumni party at his home a decade ago, Lundeen and two College development officers shared a bottle of wine in his living room after the guests left and discussed the College’s career exploration options.

“K” already had an internship program, but the group expressed concern that oftentimes students could not commit to a full internship due to time constraints. Lundeen and the development officers debated what additional career-exposure opportunities the College could offer. Perhaps, they thought, if a summer-long commitment was not possible, a shorter experience would be beneficial.
As the brainstorming continued, the group discussed a potential roadblock: where could students could live for the short visit? “We knew that putting students in hotels would be cost prohibitive,” Lundeen remembered. “Then we thought: Why not just have them stay with alumni?”

The brainstorming session gave birth to the Discovery Externship Program. Lundeen, who received Kalamazoo College’s Distinguished Service Award in 2007, submitted a plan for a multi-year philanthropic investment which made it possible for the College to launch the program. He also made clear his expectation that the College would steward his resources wisely. Today, a decade later, the externship program – the first in the nation and a model for other colleges and universities – has helped guide hundreds of “K” students as they formed career paths.

Since 2001 when Lundeen, a family law attorney, hosted the first student in the program, “K” students have traveled to stay with alumni hosts for one to four weeks. From the inception of the program, 459 students have participated in 513 externships (students may complete two externships) and have been hosted by 172 alumni (many host multiple students each year). The students work and live with their hosts, travel back and forth to their workplaces with them, and share meals and down time. This sharing of personal time outside of work has become known as “porch time.”

“The ‘porch time’ part of the program gives the student a view of my life 24/7,” Lundeen said.
“Porch time” often has a significant impact on the externs. “The most important thing I took away from the externship experience was the art of intellectual conversation,” said D’Angelo Bailey ’05 who was an extern with Jack Lundeen’s law office in 2004. “Jack and I would spend the evenings discussing the events of the day. Jack always encouraged me to think more deeply. Each day was different, each conversation varied and more thought-provoking than the last. My conversations with Jack were instrumental in helping form my thesis for my Senior Individualized Project.”

The personal connection externs develop with their hosts is instrumental in a successful externship experience. Katja Samati ’10 worked as an extern in Lundeen’s law office in 2008. Lundeen helped Samati make the most of her time in Oregon by organizing trips to the coast, tours of Portland, and boating on nearby lakes. Samati cooked with Lundeen, participated in his fitness group, and ran in the 5K “Race for Justice” which raises money for a charity Lundeen supports. “I saw the whole picture of how to live a balanced life while pursuing a successful career,” Samati said.

While the Discovery Externship Program differs from traditional internships in length and living arrangements, it offers many of the same professional learning opportunities. During their externship, many students take part in projects that offer professional experience to the extern and assistance to the extern host.

“One of my first externs created the first comprehensive analysis of spousal support (alimony) awards in Clackamas County (near Portland). She spent her days at the Clackamas County Law Library, plowing through a year’s worth of court files, looking for data on the lengths of marriages, parental earnings, custody and support awards,” Lundeen said. “Her hard work was analyzed in the Clackamas County Family Law Group Spousal Support Survey.”

When they are not working on projects, Lundeen’s externs sit in on client meetings, write memos, do research, and visit courtrooms with Lundeen. One extern even argued a case in a judge’s chambers with Lundeen at his side – and won! Lundeen encourages his externs to explore different types of law and arranges visits with other attorneys whose practices are more closely in line with the extern’s interests than Lundeen’s family law work.

In addition to working in Lundeen’s office, his externs are offered opportunities to see many aspects of practicing law. “He (Lundeen) tried as hard as he could to get me to meet with as many people in the profession as possible during the 10 days that I was there,” said Alex Morgan ’11. “I met with a prosecutor and a defense attorney, spent a day at a corporate firm and even visited the Lewis & Clark Law School.”

Katja Samati also had the opportunity to meet with people in various officers of the court, including family lawyers, criminal defense lawyers, district attorneys, uniformed officers, a judge, and civil rights attorneys. “I witnessed behind-the-scenes preparations like client meetings, case preparation, dictation, and conversations with fellow staff as well as in-court trials including a murder case, family arbitration, and several misdemeanor cases,” Samati said.

The externship experience helped Sara (Church) Nicholson ’02 decide that she did want to attend law school. “It was a work environment that I could see myself in,” she said. “I enjoyed the interaction” with Lundeen and others she met. The externship also helped clarify which type of law she wanted to practice. “It helped steer me away from family law,” said Nicholson, who now practices tax law and estate planning.

Externships work beneficially in the other direction as well. D’Angelo Bailey, for example, learned that the practice of law was not what he expected or would want to do for a career.

In addition to the program’s impact on students, the Discovery Externships also help alumni said Joan C. Hawxhurst, Director of the Center for Career and Professional Development. “One of the often unanticipated benefits for alumni who participate in the Discovery Externship Program is their sense of reconnection to Kalamazoo College,” Hawxhurst said. “From their student externs, they hear stories of beloved professors’ new classes and research. They learn about how their favorite student organization is contributing to current campus life. They compare their own K-Plan with that of their extern, and they remember the relationships, the intellectual challenges, and the transformative experiences that marked their undergraduate education. Externship hosts often comment that they get out of their Discovery Externship as much, if not more, than they put in.”

One such alumna is Bonnie Wachter Swenby ’69 who, along with her son, Mark Bachman ’95, has hosted multiple externs at her Bloomington, Minn., dental practice. “As a host, I have been greatly enriched by getting to know the students who have stayed with us. They are magnificent ambassadors, and our staff and patients have continually commented on how astute and capable they are,” Wachter Swenby said. “It’s inspiring to work with each one of the externs. It’s a classic example of the ‘you get more than you give’ concept!”

Sara (Church) Nicholson participated as an extern in Lundeen’s law office in the early days of the program and has now come full circle by hosting an extern at her law practice. “It is a chance to stay in touch with ‘K’ College and to contribute back to the experience that I had,” she said. “It is also a bit of a challenge for me professionally to really think about what I do. How can I convey the essence of what I do so my extern will have a useful and accurate snapshot?”

According to Lundeen, who has hosted more than 40 externs, perhaps the best part of being an extern host is showing a young person what he does for a living and how he lives his life. “It’s the same reason you become a mentor. It is great fun to show something you love doing to a young person who is interested in it,” Lundeen said. “I’m proud to be a lawyer, and I love to show that off to young people who think they may be interested in what I’m doing. While talking with them about their dreams, I remember that I have dreams of my own.”

CCPD is ‘Connect-Central’

During its decade-long existence, the Discovery Externship Program has grown alongside
"I saw the whole picture of how to live a balanced life while pursuing a successful career."
several types of internships offered through the Center for Career and Professional Development’s Field Experience Program (formerly called the CD Internship Program). Internships (at least six weeks in duration) offered at “K” today are:

Independent internships – Opportunities secured by students who then enroll in the Field Experience Program.

Community-building internships – Opportunities offered exclusively to “K” students to work with service-learning partner organizations in the Kalamazoo community. These internships began in the summer of 2008.

K-Internships – Opportunities offered by “K” alumni exclusively to “K” students. As some extern hosts offered longer summer projects or could no longer offer home stays, these internships were first offered in the summer of 2009 to accommodate the changing needs of Discovery Externship Program sponsors.

Arcus Center Internships – These internships are offered exclusively to “K” students to work with national and international partners of the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. This program began in the summer of 2011.

The externship program is also connected to the Guilds of Kalamazoo College, which brings together currents students and alumni with complementary career aspirations on the professional networking site LinkedIn. Currently there are five active Guilds: Business, Health, Justice & Peace, Sustainability, and Law, with several more in the wings. Through the Guilds, several alumni Guild members have stepped forward to host student externs.

The Guilds, the Discovery Externship Program, and the internship programs are part of a strategic plan to connect alumni with students, said Joan C. Hawxhurst, Director of the Center for Career and Professional Development and the Guilds of Kalamazoo College. “Alumni can choose from a wide range of opportunities, from simple steps like joining a Guild on LinkedIn or speaking as a webinar panelist, to more time-intensive options such as participating in the semiannual Professional Development Institutes on campus or hosting an extern or intern during the summer months,” Hawxhurst said.

Interested in being a host?

New hosts for the Discovery Externship Program and the “K” internship programs are always welcome. If you are interested, please contact Pam Sotherland at (269) 337-7183 or pamsoth@kzoo.edu.

National recognition

The Discovery Externship Program has been recognized on a national level for its unique, groundbreaking approach. It received the Program of the Year Award in 2004 from the National Society for Experiential Education and was named in U.S. News and World Report’s 2006 higher education category of “Programs That Really Work.”

What’s Your Externship Story?

Share it with us using the comment section below! Or, better yet, start a new externship story by completing this survey.

Photo 1: During the summer of 2009, Hannah Reischl ’12 (left) and Alex Morgan ’11 (center) were externs in the law office of Jack Lundeen ’69 (right).

Photo 2: Sara (Church) Nicholson ’02 visits Haystack Rock in Portland, OR during her externship.

Photo 3: Katja Samati ’10 said she learned about balancing a personal life with a successful career during her externship in Jack Lundeen’s law office.

Photo 4: Haley Madel ’13, left, and Kiran Vangipuram ’13, right, were externs in Jack Lundeen’s law office in 2010.

Photo 5: Former extern, Sara (Church) Nicholson ’02, was host to extern Jenna Hunt ’13 in the summer of 2011.

Photo 6: Jenna Hunt ’13 and her host Sara (Church) Nicholson ’02 visit the University of Virginia during Hunt’s externship with Nicholson’s law firm.

Photo 7: Jenna Hunt ’13 was an extern in the law office of Sara (Church) Nicholson ’02 during the summer of 2011.

Back to Front Page

Sarah Allexan 2011 on October 10, 2011 at 1:58 pm
I truly enjoyed my externship during my sophomore year with Amy Swenson who hosted me in Nashville, TN and showed me her profession as a pediatric physical therapist at Vanderbilt Children's Hospital.
Add Your Comment

Please give us your name (required) and class year if applicable

Email (required but not shared)

Please enter the letters and/or numbers appearing below