University of Southern California
University of Southern California
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
Mrs. T.H. Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Student Ambassador Blog


Excellent Externship Experience!

, by Kimmy · email · Leave a comment

As part of OT 540: Leadership Capstone, one of the final required courses of the Master’s program, all students embark on a two-week long externship experience.  During this course, students learn about the many skills that contribute to being a leader.  Various facets of leadership include developing strong personality traits, collaborating on interdisciplinary teams, joining professional organizations, and understanding a profession’s role within a wider job market.  In California, occupational therapy is represented by the state organization Occupational Therapy Association of California, as well as at the national level with the American Occupational Therapy Association, both of which advocate on behalf of occupational therapists by protecting the scope of practice, supporting research, and publicizing the profession

In addition to weekly questionnaires and a public policy discussions, the main project of the class is centered on the Leadership Externship.  Different from an internship, an externship is a short-term immersion in a new experience.  Externships emphasize active observation, in which exposure to new opportunities leads to the development of new ideas. 

One of the greatest features of this assignment is that it is student-driven, meaning it is up to you where you want to go, what you want to learn, and how you will learn it!  Students develop their own learning objectives and shape the externship process around meeting them.  Because the class is focused on leadership, the ultimate goal is to learn about management, advocacy, and professionalism. 

One of the other greatest features of this assignment is that the externship dates are scheduled right before Spring Break, giving students the opportunity to travel for an additional third week.  The combination of student-driven work and three weeks off from classes allows many students to complete externships out-of-state—or even internationally!  Global Initiatives, the department within the Chan Division focused on international connections, organizes multiple Student Exchange Programs.  Through these programs, students complete the externship at partnered universities to observe occupational therapy programs at different universities and experience the field of occupational therapy in a different country! 

In just over two weeks, I will embark on my externship to Griffith University in Australia, so stay tuned for travel updates…  smile

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