Comparing Externships to Internships

Gaining professional experience is vital to landing a job – and everyone wants to be gainfully employed. It is wise to find work experience that relates to your interests and academic studies prior to graduation or changing careers. There are several routes to do this, but two of the best are externships and internships.

People often ask what is an externship vs. an internship? Many companies use these two words interchangeably, but technically they are different. Both externships and internships offer you the opportunity to explore the real working world. They are supervised or mentored roles where you get to see companies from the inside out.

Both look good on your resume and both are chock full of valuable benefits. These work experience opportunities allow you to make contacts, which give you a step up in the job search. In fact, many externships and internships ultimately lead to permanent positions with companies.

An Externship?

The similarities stop there. Externships require less of a commitment than internships. They last a shorter amount of time – usually a day or two. The shorter time means that participants can commit to multiple externships during their education. This is a great way to compare companies and professions. Externships can easily take place over school holidays or pre-arranged days off.

Externships are generally located close to home or school. Finding and taking part in them offers personal benefits, but does not offer pay or college credit. You can find one by making a few phone calls and expressing interest to a company or department.

The average day of an externship is relatively laid back. It’s essentially job shadowing. Company volunteers may give you a tour of the business or have you help out on a project. It depends on the externship. Externships are a fantastic way to sample the workplace and are designed to help you choose your career path.

Or An Internship?

Internships usually last for a semester and offer students a full immersion into the workplace. Students usually only participate in one or two internships because they are a longer time commitment.

Many students relocate to big cities or head abroad to participate in internships. They are typically more structured than externships and require intense application processes, references, detailed proposals, and strict adherence to time lines and deadlines. It is a chance to be a young professional exploring the workplace and in return, you can receive college credit that may be required to graduate.

Every internship is different and your actual job description will depend on where you intern. In reality, some interns do boring, grunt work and others work hands-on with a team on important projects. Do your research to make sure that you get the most out of your internship.

As you can see, internships and externships are similar, but different at the same time. If you’re looking for college credit, pay, and a longer time commitment, then go for an internship. If you want a quick glimpse into a business with a shorter time frame and a more laid back experience, then an externship may be a better option for you. It is always possible to do a handful of externships and a more intensive internship.

The more experience that you can gain prior to searching for jobs, the more educated and aware of the workplace you will be. You’ll know what you want to do, where you want it, and whom you want to work for. Both externships and internships are basically a preview of your working life. Take advantage of them both and learn all that you can.

Which one are you looking for? Internship or Externship?


What is an Apprenticeship?