Experiential Education: A Model for Creating Career Opportunities



Holly Ashton (Director of Career Services & Experiential Education) shares an update on externship opportunities for IYRS students and why IYRS believes in an experiential education model.

The Marine Systems and Composite Technology students are off on externship! 

The externship is a 140-hour off-site experience that is scheduled during the last month of school. This group of students started at IYRS in September, have gone through training in our labs, and are now ready to embark on their externship and subsequently enter the workforce.

I really enjoyed working with this group of students.  The average age for this class is 27 and they came from seven states and four countries! 


Something that set this class apart is that they scored better than any other class in IYRS history. 100% of the Marine Systems students passed their American Boat & Yacht Council (ABYC) exams and 95% passed their American Composites Manufacturing Association (ACMA) exams. This is a significant increase from years past and we are very proud of this cohort.

In addition to focusing their energy on learning more about marine electronics, diesel engines, carbon fiber, wind turbines, and so much more, all students participated in a series of career service activities. The goal of these activities were to prepare the students for their externship. 

We started off with a brainstorm of general career goal; listened to targeted presentations on professional communication, resume writing and interviewing; discussed ways to research companies in related industries; and had countless individual career counseling sessions.  

The students worked hard through the process and as of about a month ago, each student could articulate where they would like to work for their externship and how they saw the experience fitting into their overall career goals.  All students went out on interviews to assess the fit for their externship and to learn about the company. All of students landed an externship and to their credit, many of them are at their first choice company.

As much as I would like to give my students all the credit for securing their externships, I must acknowledge our industry partners. I work with an amazing group of companies and their willingness to support our students, IYRS programs, and trade education in general is truly incredible. 

Many students have not worked in the field before and the externship is a crucial step for their career.  Working in an actual boatyard or composites shop not only allows the student to apply what they have learned in the classroom but also reinforces their confidence.  The students, faculty and I appreciate all of the time that the employers take interviewing and working with our students. 

Thank you to the following companies for supporting current IYRS externships: