Understanding the Differences Between Externship vs Internship

5 min read
job interview between recruiter and intern

A great way to brace yourself for when you start building your career is to gain skills early on; and choosing between taking an externship vs internship program is a great step. While these programs offer chances to students and recent graduates to learn about the business world and workforce, knowing the contrast between them lets you decide better on which one you should take. This quick guide walks you through the basics, the factors you should gauge, and how to find programs you can explore. Read on.

What is an Externship?

A type of a job shadowing program, externship programs are a means of letting students or grads connect their career interests to the workplace; as well as gain basic first-hand work background and learn how business processes go. Oftentimes, externships are short-term, unpaid, and don’t often help externs earn college credit.

In detail, short-term externships allow college students and recent graduates to get a glimpse of a certain job role or a workplace without the need to commit to a long period of time. Externs may observe a workplace, attend meetings, and even interact with workers to get more details about the work they do. ‘Short-term’ may mean a day to up to a few weeks, and can be arranged by colleges or applied for by the participants directly.

Nevertheless, some graduate programs like law school tend to offer longer-term, full- or part-time externships. These also have the chance to be paid, helping externs gain key work experience that’s key to support their learning.

Externship Vs Internship Two Millennial Coworkers Working Closely

What is an Internship?

Mostly known as an on-the-job training (OJT) program, an internship allows students and grads to gain skills and experience by taking on a hands-on work role. This program isn’t just offered in certain career paths; it’s also used in various fields like tech, education, government, and healthcare.

In most cases, these programs are arranged with the help of guidance counselors, college programs, and even career services offices. If you’d like to set up your own internship, this is also done when you apply directly to firms. Furthermore, it’s best to complete internships during a college term, summer, or school break. Often, these are credit-bearing. Also, students or fresh grads can complete more than one program with various firms.

Based on the type of role, remote or on-site internships are done. It’s also not required for an intern to be paid unless the nature of the program can consider such a system.

To help you land your dream program, you must know how to craft a strong application. Check out this internship resume guide for a 6-step process you should know and apply.

Externship vs Internship

Here’s a quick guide on their unique features:

  • Pay – While both programs don’t often have to give participants salary, internships are more often paid than externships.
  • Length – Externships are often shorter than internships. The former often lasts up to a few weeks while internships are set for more than a month.
  • Course credit – Internships help college students to earn college credit, while there are none for externships.
  • Type of program – Externships are considered job shadowing, with lesser work tasks. On the other hand, internships are deemed OJTs, with basic duties assigned.
Dental Surgeon In The Operating Room With Externs Assisting

Perks of Externship and Internship Experience

Of course, the perks of externship vs internship skills you’ll gain would help you in a myriad of ways when you start building your career. Also, you can reap some benefits that may be key to your personal growth as well. That said, read on for the major benefits you can enjoy.

1. Grows and hones skills

You’re given a chance to know what skill sets are key across various career paths, so you can easily build and hone them. Further, you can work on your social skills, dealing with and observing workers how they perform their roles.

2. Helps you get a better job offer

For fresh graduates, it’s tricky to land a job since they have no work background yet to show for it. Thus, having an externship or internship training becomes helpful. Serving as one’s edge over others, a candidate is armed with basic knowledge and skills suited to the job. With that, you can include your program experience on your resume. Also, having such stellar background can also help you get a better pay, knowing you already have prior experience.

3. Builds your network early on

As you gain a crucial background in your externship vs internship practice, you get to build ties with the firm’s workers, HR, and even management teams. These vital ties help you get insider tips about work and also later on in checking roles as you enter the workforce.

4. Aids you in your workforce leap

These programs give you learnings to help you get hired, choose the right job offer, and improve your work quality to become a thriving worker. With all these in mind, you have a better glimpse of how workplaces run, letting you enhance the way you do your job search.

Factors to Gauge When Choosing Between Externship and Internship

Here are 3 main factors you should note.

  • The time and commitment you’ll spend – Externships are often shorter while internships take longer.
  • The kind you prefer – Externships are meant for job shadowing, while internships help you gain hands-on experience.
  • Your level of education – While it’s best for college students to take internships, some graduate schools prefer offering their students externships.
Young Intern Trained By Older Businessman

Finding Extern and Intern Roles

Now that you know the unique features of the two programs, their perks, and how to gauge which to take, it’s time for you to search for roles you can explore. Get started with these foolproof tips.

  • Check with your college – Often, externships are arranged by colleges through certain departments or careers services. However, some schools also offer help for students to gain intern role options.
  • Do an eager search online – Firms actively search for interns online through job boards, business pages, and other network sites. Though externships are more specific and not so common, you can always inquire directly about any roles or ask your academic counselors for help.
  • Ask around – This is where your professional network becomes helpful. Connect with your firm contacts, friends, and even family if they know of such offers you can check out.

Do You Add Externship and Internship Background on Your Resume?

While this isn’t really required, it’s highly favored to put your extern and inters roles mainly if you’re a student, a fresh graduate, or an entry-level worker without ample skills and background. This would help you better craft your resume with no experience and strengthen your profile when you apply.

For more guides on externship vs internship and how you can further improve your resume, check out our resume help, career advice, and job search tips!

Paul Entwistle

Paul Entwistle

Paul Entwistle is RPW’s resident copy editor, a post he has held since 2003. A self-styled critic of the contemporary scene, Paul also moonlights as copy editor for a few publications and memoirs. A widower raising a Pomeranian and British Shorthair, he currently resides in Palo Alto.
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