Internship vs. Externship

We’ve discussed in full detail what an internship is, as-well-as how to be the best intern at your company.

But we frequently get asked what the difference is between an internship vs. an externship.

An internship, in its most basic sense, is a period of work experience for a set, limited amount of time.

Internships are most likely offered to students or those who are working towards an accredited degree.

Typically, there is no age barrier for internships, and they can either be paid or unpaid.

In-addition, internships typically last for 8-weeks or more.

An externship, on-the-other-hand, is much shorter than internship.

Externships can last from a day to a few weeks.

Externships are more observatory than internships.

Due to the smaller time period, externs are expected to watch and learn via observation.

As externs do not have a job function within the organization, they are typically not paid.

Benefits of An Externship

As-with the benefits in doing an internship, an externship can open new opportunities and career ideas to students.

Whereas an internship is more hands-on, with set and specific job-functions, externships are meant to provide a peek into the day-to-day nuances of career professionals.

As-such, externships excel at allowing students to monitor and observe the daily mechanics surrounding certain professions.

This observation can assist them in making a more informed decision as to where they want to pursue future careers.

Externships also help students expand their network.

By observing, commenting, and asking questions during an externship, the student can build rapport and relationships with the career professionals they shadow.

These relationships can be used to leverage introductions and recommendations into the industry once the student has graduated or is prepared for a full-time career.

In addition, undertaking an externship shows added enthusiasm for a specific industry or career path.

Future employers will look to see how involved a student was in picking their industry.

An externship proves that the student both understands the industry and has a level of enthusiasm for it.

Further, many students leverage their externship into an internship for additional experience.

Rows of lecture chairs

How To Get An Externship

Externships are a bit more difficult to get than internships, simply because they are not posted on job boards or promoted on the company’s career page.

Rather, externships take work and networking to discover.

There are two ways to go about looking for an externship.

  • School Career Services
  • Your school’s career services center should have information on available externships.

This will include companies that are open to receiving externs and a point-of-contact to begin the process.

  • Networking
  • Time and time again we see that networking is the differentiating factor in landing an internship, externship, or full-time job offer.

And honestly, for an understandable reason.

So, hit-up your friends, family, and network on LinkedInand see if they would be open to hosting an extern.

Indicate your willingness to learn, your enthusiasm about the company and the industry, and what you expect to get out from an externship.

Be polite, cordial, and professional.

Some companies may not even have an externship program but may be willing to host you if you communicate effectively and professionally with them.

Benefits of An Extern to A Company

From a company or organization perspective, an extern represents a steppingstone to an intern.

While you may think you’re not fully prepared to host an intern, you can host an extern for a limited amount of time and begin to impart the knowledge that you have on students in your area.

The main benefit of hosting an extern is that it allows you direct, unfettered access to students who are interested in your company and industry.

You can network with them and find rising talent.

You can offer internships to those students who are talented and leave a good impression.

Even-more, if a student shows incredible talent and grasp of the knowledge, feel free to make a full-time offer as an entry level role.

So, Internship vs. Externship, Which Should I Choose?

Dependent on the time you have available, I would recommend going with an internship.

Internships are more time consuming but will offer you more intimate detail on the career, company, and industry.

In addition, internships are more likely to lead to a full-time career offer.

Interns work more closely with their colleagues and thus have more time to build rapport and relationships.

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