Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access

Degree Name

Master of Education (MEd)



First Advisor

Susan Marine


Research supports experiential learning models, focusing on career exploration, as one of the best ways college students can clarify their interests and determine future goals (Orndorff & Herr, 1996). This capstone explored the existing literature on: fundamental career development theories, experiential learning’s connection to career preparation, student populations needing additional career preparation, and ways to address these needs. Typically, sophomore students need but rarely receive this special attention, since they statistically have the highest withdrawal rates (Tobolowsky, 2008). This capstone project was conducted through a mixed methods pragmatic methodological assessment of the development and implementation of Merrimack College’s Externship Experience. This program was developed to address the question of what can be done to address the needs of sophomores, in terms of career development, at Merrimack. Over winter break, 18 undergraduate externs were placed with 14 host supervisors at nine host sites. Consistent with the literature, externs expressed increased levels of personal confidence, career preparation, and interest in their chosen field after experience. Hosts also reported high levels of satisfaction with their experience, and all hosts reported that they would be interested in hosting a future extern. Recommendations from the first implementation were taken into consideration for the second round implantation (March), and will guide the development and expansion of the program moving forward. This capstone contributes to the understanding of population specific and career needs of college students, and offers an example of programming that can fill the gap in sophomore career preparation.