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What is an Externship?

Externships offer students an opportunity to shadow and observe a company or industry they are interested in.  It allows them to view the inner workings of the company and a position.  This observatory period is invaluable as it allows students to make a more informed decision on whether or not they are really interested in the industry.  Externships are one of the best ways to determine interest in a career path.

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.

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. However, while externships aren’t for everyone, they can definitely add value to your resume and help you further your interest in a career choice.  Overall, so long as you have the time to and it won’t negatively affect your academic progress, I would recommend taking an externship if possible.

Are Externships Paid?

Externships, as compared to internships, are generally set for a much shorter amount of time.  Whereas internships last from anywhere from 6-weeks to several years, an externship is generally conducted over a few days.  As-such, most externships are unpaid positions.

Externships are much shorter in length than internships.  Internships are meant to be more hands-on, with a direct, actionable role and list of responsibilities.  For this reason, most internships are paid or will at-least offer academic credit.

Since your time at an externship will generally be spent observing and watching others at their work, they are typically unpaid.  Rather, the purpose of an externship is to learn more about the company and the industry.  In-addition, externships are valuable in growing your list of networks and people you know in the industry.

 

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.

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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.

 

 

How to Add Externship to Resume

Externships, as they are inherently different from other work experiences, can be added onto a resume in three different ways.

The first is to mention the externship experience within the summary section of your resume.  As your summary section is typically closer to the top of the page, it will stand-out and likely be seen by the recruiter or hiring manager.  Mentioning your externship within your summary section also allows you to provide a brief synopsis of what and why you chose a specific externship.

The second option is to have a separate section devoted to “Additional Information.”  Within this section, you can include any volunteer experience and skills you’ve gained.  While an “Additional Information” section can work well, you should note that this section is typically placed on the bottom of the resume and may not be seen by the recruiter or hiring manager.

The last option is to add the externship as a standalone experience level.  This is wholly dependent on the length of the externship and what skills and accomplishments you’ve made.  An externship that lasted a week or two may not be sufficient enough to have its own standalone section.

Adding in an externship to a resume is important to do.  It shows recruiters and hiring managers that you are truly interested in the field and have worked hard to gain actionable, real-life and real-world experience.  Each situation is unique, so review the options above to see what works best for you.

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