There’s nothing like hands-on learning. We provide ways for advanced and highly motivated young adults to explore a career field of interest and start applying their knowledge in an intellectually limitless and nurturing environment.

Externships Providing Leadership Opportunities in Research and Education (EXPLORE) Program matches gifted and advanced high school students with distinguished mentors, hands-on research opportunities, and professional experience in their field of interest. With the support and guidance of volunteer mentors and IEA staff, students learn about working in a variety of professional settings and advance their skills through the pursuit of knowledge and exposure to optimally challenging learning experiences. Students not only experience growth intellectually and personally, but are able to make pertinent and lasting connections with their mentors and like-minded peers.


Before students begin their work experience, they will participate in a mandatory Professional Development Orientation with the goal of connecting students with a community of like-minded peers and helping them prepare for their placement. They will then work collaboratively with their Mentors’ teams for 3 to 6 weeks from Monday through Thursday for 5 to 8 hours each day. Every Friday, students attend skill building workshops and educational excursions with  their cohort so they can continue to build stronger bonds with their peers and gain relevant skills related to career and college development. At the end of their externship, students participate in a culmination ceremony to celebrate their accomplishments and present what they learned while working at their site.

IEA Externs will:

  • Perform advanced research and apply their knowledge and talents to real-world problems.
  • Immerse themselves in challenging and intensive learning experiences by working alongside leaders and experts in their particular field of study at some of the nation’s leading universities, research facilities, corporations and non-profit organizations.
  • Learn in intellectually stimulating environments where they are challenged to discover their talents and are motivated to pursue their full potential.
  • Develop leadership, interpersonal, critical thinking, and creative problem-solving skills that will translate to any career and area of study.
  • Expand their horizons through hands-on work with preeminent professionals in their fields.
  • Focus their personal vision and aspire to greater individual achievement.

Optimal match: Each externship is custom-matched for each student to create an ideal learning experience. Distinguished leaders in varying professions are selected as Mentors based on the needs and interests of gifted and advanced students.

Beyond academics: The program enables students to spend the summer immersed in advanced research, hands-on activities, and intellectual work.

Collaborative professional skills: Students are provided with opportunities for social interaction and teamwork within unique and nurturing work space cultures.

Safe place to grow: Guidance from volunteer Mentors, support from IEA staff, and collaboration with like-minded peers help foster students’ social and emotional development.


Through the EXPLORE program, students will have the opportunity to gain real-world experience and build a strong support system that can last a lifetime.

Students develop positive, and often life-changing, relationships with Mentors and a diverse cohort of other highly motivated, high-achieving and creative people. Students work either one-on-one or in small groups with a team of professionals, creating personal connections through a cross-generational experience and in a collaborative environment. Our hope is for our students to build and maintain relationships with their Mentors long after the program is completed.

Our students forge bonds with their peers who share their drive, abilities, and interests. Students come from a wide range of high schools and have interests in a variety of fields, creating a diverse and unique community in which highly motivated students are encouraged to exchange ideas.

Students also develop positive relationships with IEA staff members. They not only work to place each student at the most optimally matched site, but also provide ongoing support throughout the duration of the program.

Institute for Educational Advancement - Connecting bright minds; nurturing intellectual and personal growth

Accrediting Commission for Schools, Western Association of Schools and Colleges
533 Airport Blvd., Suite 200
Burlingame, CA 94010

Website: www.acswasc.org

A real world experience that can take you as far as your talent!

We tailor externships to match the keen passions and interests of bright minds.  Contact us to discuss your interests and the opportunities we can create for a real world, enriching summer work experience.


“The program is an invaluable pre-college experience for gifted students, and I’ve seen this in a number of ways. Gifted students often have heightened sensitivities which can make adjusting to college particularly challenging and sometimes self-defeating. Students get a dry run at college life, and the program devotes time to discussions about how to self-manage the college experience. The many science work experiences bring students in contact with lab equipment and reagents that a high school could never afford, and with research objectives beyond most imaginations. IEA’s summer science projects easily eclipse those of most other programs because the student works semi-independently on original research. Most importantly, the program puts young people in face-to-face settings with distinguished professionals (often professors at prestigious universities) who model in positive ways the life of a gifted adult.”

– Kate Duey, Certified College Consultant and Director

Institute for Educational Advancement - Connecting bright minds; nurturing intellectual and personal growth

“I learned that my career field, which was ethnomusicology, took patience, commitment, and extensive research. Professor Amy demonstrated these components well through her words, actions, and field work. These three key components will not only help me in the future, but will also help me in everything I do, especially when it comes to reaching my personal and professional goals.”
– Alumna 2017

Provide a Hands-On Experience: Host or Sponsor an IEA Extern
Institute for Educational Advancement - Connecting bright minds; nurturing intellectual and personal growth

A gifted mind that is fed and fostered can achieve great things. By funding the IEA EXPLORE program, you will not only change a life, you might also spark a discovery that changes the world. Please consider:

Hosting an Extern. Share your professional expertise, time, and support through direct mentorship.

Sponsoring an Extern. Help ensure that no child is ever turned away due to lack of funds.We’ll match you with an IEA Extern and keep you posted on his or her progress and the results of their efforts.

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