How the CLS Can Assist Grinnell College Alumni

Do you need guidance in dealing with a career change? The CLS can help!

We can provide you with assistance on your resume, direct you toward job search resources, and even help you with career exploration and the application process to graduate and professional school. Use the following resources to get started!

  • Use some of the resources and advice from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) website JobWeb.
  • The Grinnell Career Development Guide (PDF) is a comprehensive booklet that will guide you through writing a resume and application letter, what questions to expect at an interview, and how to continue networking. You also will learn about self-assessment and how that can help you think about your career path.
  • The newly revised 2013 Graduate & Professional School Guide (PDF) will help you figure out whether attending graduate or professional school is right for you. Sections include deciding when to attend, evaluating potential schools and programs, and navigating the application process, with appendices on applying to medical school, law school, and business school.
  • FOCUS Career Assessment is a self-paced, online career and education planning tool for use by college students. It will enable you to self-assess your career relevant personal qualities and explore career fields and major areas of study that are most compatible with your assessment results. Access Code: pioneers
  • The Forum and LinkedIn: Reach out to fellow Grinnellians for support and advice. Share your stories and hear theirs. Every contact can lead to more information, and the key is connecting with people so that you reach the largest possible group in any given field. The Forum grants you access to the Alumni Online Directory, which lists Grinnell College alumni and the information they want to be made available to other Grinnell College alumni, students, faculty and staff. The directory is updated and managed by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations.
  • Still feel as though you need more assistance? You can also make an appointment to speak with a CLS career counselor. Call 641-269-4940 for appointment information.
How Alumni Can Assist Grinnell College Students

Most Grinnell alumni would agree that helping others and giving back to the community feel good. Listed here are many ways you can give back to the College and stay involved through the Career Development Office; choose one that works for you or blend several together. We also welcome new ideas for creative or innovative programming and look forward to your suggestions. The CLS encourages alumni to consider assisting current Grinnell students by participating in one or more of the following programs:

Grinnellink Receptions

  • Casual and informal opportunities for students to connect with alumni and talk about the career path you have chosen, the part of the country you live in, and the experiences you've had since graduation.
  • Available and advertised to all students these provide valuable networking opportunities.

Externship Program

  • Students connect with alumni during school breaks for a 3-5 day job shadowing and professional advising, as well as a homestay. Students arrange travel plans for the break. A sample schedule could include an organization tour, introduction to organization staff, resume review, mock/informational interviews, trends discussion, shadowing time, etc.
  • Serves first or second year students.
  • Provides undecided students with an opportunity to explore career options.
  • Students gain industry/organization knowledge, networking skills, insight into a specific field of interest, and a direct connection to alumni.
  • Alumni offer professional advising and organizational knowledge.
  • Alumni may recommend this opportunity to class members, colleagues, and key contacts.

Grinnellink Summer Internships

Alumni or friends of the College offer internship opportunities at their companies or organizations exclusively for Grinnell College students to gain practical work experience in a chosen career field.  Process: Alumni submit a description to the CLS describing the actual internship responsibilities, skills desired, specific projects and application process. Opportunities are advertised to students who then apply based on the information provided. Many alumni provide direct supervision and mentoring for the intern, and others simply make arrangements for the intern to work directly with other professionals at their organization. Internships take place in the U.S. and abroad during the summer for a minimum of eight weeks of full-time work. Internships may be funded through alumni donation, by the site, or possibly through available Grinnell College funding. Grinnellink internships must be open to Grinnell College students only. Alumni may recommend this opportunity to class members, colleagues, and key contacts. Contact the CLS for more information if you are interested in hosting a Grinnell College student during the summer.

Externship Program Information

The Grinnell College Externship Program is designed for students interested in a career exploration experience. These students are typically first and second year students who are fairly undecided about their major and/or career path. Students gain an understanding of how their academic preparation can be used in work settings and also get a glimpse of the extent of their knowledge and skills. They gather information and perspectives that are helpful in making career choices and/or planning for graduate or professional education.

Your organization will benefit from the Externship Program by including a bright, inquisitive student with working staff. The Grinnell College extern is a liberal arts student with writing, analytical, and research skills. Students who have chosen to participate in the Externship Program are interested and motivated to learn from a career exploration experience.

The campus community also reaps benefits from the Externship Program. Students return to the campus with new experiences and perspectives about career exploration and development as well as industry knowledge that can be shared with their peers and instructors.

Thank you so much for considering participating in the Externship Program and investing in your fellow future alumni.

How to Sign Up to Participate

Registration to host a Grinnell College student extern during Spring Break 2014 is now open!  Click here to sign up.  In this online registration form, you will be introduced to the program, asked to sign an alumni host agreement, invited to complete information about your organization and opportunity, and given a list of important dates for the 2014 externship program.  Once you complete the online registration form, Kelly Guilbeau will contact you with final confirmation of your involvement and a reminder of important dates.

Click here to begin the online registration form.

If you have any questions about your participation in the Spring Break 2014 program, please contact Kelly Guilbeau [guilbeau[at]grinnell[dot]edu], Internship Counselor in the Center for Careers, Life, and Service.


What is an externship: *Externships vary in length, but usually last three to five days. They generally involve a student shadowing a professional through a normal day's activities and may include informational interviews, a tour of the facility, and participation in actual office projects, etc.

What is the difference between an internship and an externship: *Externships are short-term, offer no pay (though *some* transportation funding is available through the CLS), and are hosted by alumni volunteers in various organizations to help students gain an insider's view of a career field. Internships are longer term (a semester or summer), may involve pay and academic credit, and support an organizations work function.

Why does a student do an externship: *An externship is an excellent way for students to learn about the day-to-day work life of a professional in a career field of your choice. It offers students the chance to "test" a career without the risk of long- term commitment and can help them get their foot in the door for a competitive internship program or job.

How does this program work...

...for alumni: Alumni fill out the online registration form. The CLS will contact you with confirmation of your involvement. Should students preference your placement, the CLS will match one student with your externship experience. You should receive information about the student (e.g., name, resume, class year) by late February/early March. The student will stay with you for the 3-5 day period during the College's spring break (March 15-30, 2014) that you indicated in your online registration form. Read further on The Role of the Alumni Mentor to learn ways to engage the student during their job shadow with you. You will fill out a final evaluation of the student and the externship program and send it to the CLS at the end of the externship.

...for students: Students apply for the externship program, preferencing their top 3 externship placements. CLS matches first and second year students with alumni mentors/externship placements. Students stay 3-5 days with the alumnus/a and observe him/her at work as a method to not only further understand that career field but how that career fits into one’s life. This program is intended to be a jump off point for students to start exploring their career options and talking with professionals in order to: [1] clarify their career exploration and interests, [2] connect their course work to outside the classroom and their future plans, and [3] connect with and learn from alumni externship mentors.

* Descriptions provided from University of Arkansas, University Career Development Center Website:

Role of the Alumni Mentor

We hope that the externship will prove to be a rewarding experience for our students and you. Please let us know how we can assist in making the externship a meaningful experience for both you and the student.

Listed below are some specific recommendations on how to use your time together.

Prior to the Externship:

  • Clarify what is expected of the Extern with respect to dress and confidentiality of certain information.

Time with You:

  • Give the Extern a tour of the office and introduce him/her to the people with whom he/she will be working.
  • Explain the mission, goals, functions, services and procedures of your organization/agency as well as your department and its relationship to the larger organization or profession.
  • Share your story as a Grinnell alum. What was your Grinnell experience like? How did you pick your major, classes, campus involvement, internships, research, etc.? What has your career path been since you left Grinnell? What/who has helped you along the way? What are some things that you are glad you did and wish you would’ve done?
  • Discuss the field/industry and how a student can start gaining experience and one day find a job in this field.
  • Explain to the Extern how you make decisions—what the alternatives are and how you arrive at conclusions.
  • Discuss with the Extern the specific duties and projects on which he/she will be working and explain how these projects fit into the larger picture and goals of your organization/agency.
  • Throughout the externship, meet regularly with the Extern to discuss his/her work and learning and any new questions.

Time with Colleagues:

  • Set up several 20-45mins time frames for the student to do informational interviews with those in different positions to discuss their career path, how a college student can gain experience in this field, how someone pursues this career after graduation, etc.
  • Ensure that extern has time to discuss similar things with entry level employees.

Time with Leadership:

  • Set up a 20-45mins time frames for the student to do informational interviews with those in leadership, to discuss their career path, how a college student can gain experience in this field, how someone pursues this career after graduation, the bigger picture of the office and mission/vision, etc.

Time with Materials:

  • Share with the Extern the job descriptions of co-workers and an organizational chart for the organization/agency if appropriate.
  • Introduce the Extern to brochures, manuals, reports, and/or journals pertinent to the organization/agency and to the field.

Time to Observe:

  • Give the Extern an opportunity to attend staff, committee, public or legislative meetings.
  • Sit in with clients meetings (when applicable)
Additional Opportunities
  • Post your organization's jobs to PioneerLink
  • Respond to student requests for informational interviews, resume critiques, or graduate school information
  • Participate in industry tours
  • Share your expertise as an alumni-in-residence 

For more information please contact Nate Dobbels, Assistant Director of Alumni Relations for Career Development programs, 641-269-3204.

Credential Files

What is a credential file?

A credential file is a packet of background information that is sent to a prospective employer when a candidate is applying for a professional position. Files are most frequently established for elementary and secondary school teachers, school administrators, college and university professors, school counselors, speech pathologists and other school specialty areas. Candidates applying for jobs in business, private industry, or government typically do not establish credential files, but the can do so if they feel it will be beneficial to them.

Why should I open a credential file?

Credential files provide a professional, convenient, dependable aid in the job application process. It is a way to organize and send your information needed for potential employers and graduate schools. It also eliminates the time-consuming process of continuously compiling the necessary documents for various applications. Finally, it allows your information to reach the employer in one complete package.

How do I establish a credential file?

Interfolio - Interfolio, the premier application portfolio management service, is now available to the students and alumni of Grinnell College! Interfolio is the easiest and most affordable way for a student or an alum to send application materials to graduate and professional schools, a prospective teacher to apply for a new position, or a PhD to send academic credentials to a search committee. Interfolio's online system allows you to build an online portfolio - a complete file of all your credentials. Nearly any document can be stored, including, but not limited to: confidential letters of recommendation, resumes, curriculum vitae, statement(s) of purpose, writing samples, dissertation abstracts, teaching portfolio documents, supervising teacher evaluations, student and peer evaluations, transcripts

What are the benefits of using Interfolio?

Interfolio allows you to build a portfolio of all your important documents. Ask writers for letters of recommendation or add non-confidential documents yourself. Up to 250 MB of storage is included. Comprehensive, fast and customized deliveries: Interfolio allows you to deliver any document anywhere in the world in one complete, professional package. Whether you're applying for further study or future employment, Interfolio allows you to specify the order in which your materials are packaged so your presentation is powerful and persuasive. Self-managed files: With Interfolio, you have complete control of your portfolio. You don't have to rely on others to make decisions about what documents are delivered on your behalf. Lightning-fast delivery: Interfolio sends every delivery - paper or electronic- within one business day of your request. If you need to meet a deadline, Interfolio can send express deliveries the same day (as long as you make the request by 2 PM EST). 24/7 access: With their web-based system you can manage your portfolio whenever and wherever you want. Low Cost: Since you only need to send one delivery for each application, you save money and headaches. It's more affordable to send a 30-page delivery through Interfolio than to use Kinko's or the U.S. Post Office.

Current fees for Interfolio are:

  • 1 Year Account - $19.00
  • 3 Year Account (30% Discount) - $39.90
  • 5 Year Account (40% Discount) - $57.00

How do I create an account?

It takes just two minutes to create an Interfolio account and begin building your portfolio immediately. Click here to sign up now!