How does the model work?

We are seeking host organizations and externs in the Austin, TX area who are willing to pilot the model outlined below. We are planning to launch the first extern cohort pilot in the 2018/2019 academic year.  Current internship announcements can be found here.


Process Overview:

  1. A social good or public sector organization (e.g. nonprofit, social enterprise, government office) identifies a data, research, or evaluation need and submits a request to meet with Capacity Catalyst for a free consultation.

  2. A Capacity Catalyst team member meets with the non-profit to: (a) better understand the need, (b) determine whether the need can be accomplished within a normal extern timeline (2-3 months) and within a peer-based model, and (c) identify the types of pre-requisite research or data skills that might be needed for an extern to be successful.

  3. If the need is a good fit for the Capacity Catalyst model, Capacity Catalyst and the nonprofit host develop a project summary with outlined goals and timelines.

  4. Candidates identified by Capacity Catalyst interview with host nonprofit.

  5. At least one month prior to the externship cohort start date, the nonprofit and Capacity Catalyst finalize the project plan and contract with the selected extern candidate.

  6. The cohort of externs gather for a kick-off event at the beginning of the semester, to meet their peers and mentors.

  7. The externs begin their assignments and complete their project work with the guidance of their internal supervisor and support from their assigned Capacity Catalyst mentor. Externs complete on-going individual and peer-based activities through the externship.

  8. At the conclusion of the externship, externs and mentors gather for a final event, where they present on their projects and reflect on their experiences.

NonProfit Host Responsibilities:

  • Collaborate with the extern and Capacity Catalyst team, to build a project summary, goals, extern expectations, and timeline that meets both the extern and host organization needs. Physically host the extern for 12-14 weeks (e.g. desk, computer) for 10-15 hours per week. Externs will have ongoing access to Capacity Catalyst mentors and peer-based support throughout the externship and will participate in designated Capacity Catalyst program activities outlined in the contract (1 to 2-hour activities or assignments once every two weeks).

  • Provide an internal supervisor for the extern, who can deliver direct assistance and supervision to the extern and is committed to personally meeting with the extern on a regular basis each week. The internal supervisor will also meet with Capacity Catalyst mentors approximately once every 3-4 weeks to discuss the extern’s progress.

  • Officially employ or contract with the extern.

  • Complete a final assessment survey of the externship hosting experience.


Extern/Fellow Responsibilities:

  • Complete the assigned project tasks of externship host, as well as Capacity Catalyst program assignments/activities.

  • Complete regular meetings with host supervisor and Capacity Catalyst mentors.

  • Complete a final self-assessment of the externship experience.

  • Utilize communication tools required for Capacity Catalyst program activities (e.g. email, slack group, google drive).

  • Produce a final presentation about your project to share with the cohort and Capacity Catalyst team.


Capacity Catalyst Responsibilities:

  • Recruit and assign advanced students and early career professionals for each extern cohort.

  • Recruit host organizations to match each extern to.

  • Recruit and assign at least one mentor to each placed extern. Mentors will be experienced professionals working in the host organizations’ geographic area.

  • Mentors provide direct, ongoing guidance and feedback to the extern as needed, throughout the externship.

  • Mentors will directly connect externs to his or her professional networks locally.

  • Provide and facilitate individual assignments and peer-based activities for each cohort of externs. These activities are designed to help the extern develop professional skills and reflect on their project work with the host organization.

Want to learn more?