Definitive Guide To Externships and Internships

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated October 28, 2021 | Published January 22, 2021

Updated October 28, 2021

Published January 22, 2021

Related: How to Find an Internship: Determine Your Interests

In this video, Jenn explains how to find an internship, the top 5 ways to land the job, AND some great advice on what NOT to do.

Externships and Internships can be beneficial experiences for college students. Both externships and internships can provide opportunities for career advancement and sometimes college credit. Learning about internships and externships can help you decide which could be right for you. In this article, we explore what externships and internships are, discuss some of their differences and consider some frequently asked questions about them.

Related: Finding Internships and Internship Alternatives During COVID-19

What is an externship?

An externship is a short-term job shadowing program. The focus of an externship is usually learning about a career and observing a professional in their workplace. A company might give externs some small projects, but their primary duties are to job shadow and observe. Typically, externs are college students, but they do not always receive college credit for an externship.

An externship's program length can depend on the professional the student is shadowing and how much time that employee can offer. The program could last one day or up to eight weeks. Typically, externships are short term so students can observe careers and explore different interests. A student might do an externship or multiple externships during a summer or holiday break period.

Related: What Is an Externship? (And How To Get One)

What is an internship?

An internship is an on-the-job training program for college students or recent graduates. Sometimes, an intern could have some employee-like responsibilities at the company and perform small projects or other assigned duties. Students can earn college credits for internships in addition to the small base salary they receive from the company itself. However, not all internships are paid opportunities.

A student or a recent graduate could complete one or more internships with different companies during the school year or over the summer. Summer internships usually involve full workweeks that span multiple weeks. If a student has an internship during a school semester, they usually work with the intern manager to come in around their class schedule.

Related: Definitive Guide To Internships

Externship vs. internship: how are they different?

Externships and internships can both provide opportunities for college studies and recent graduates to learn about different careers while out in the field. With both opportunities, students can observe and take part in hands-on training to see if they would like to pursue that career. Here are some key differences between internships and externships to help you decide which could be right for you:

  • Salary: Externships are typically unpaid opportunities. Internships can offer a small salary.

  • Length: Externships are typically shorter than internships and can last from one day to eight weeks. Internships can last a few weeks and up to a year.

  • Course credit: Externships typically do not offer course credit due to the length of their program. Internships usually offer course credit.

  • Program type: Externships job shadowing opportunities, while internships are essentially on-the-job training. During an externship, a student likely won't complete any work, but interns often have a basic set of responsibilities.

Related: 10 Ways To Get the Most From Your Internship

Frequently asked questions about externships and internships

Looking at externships and internships and their benefits can lead to questions from college and high school students. Here are some frequently asked questions about externships and internships:

How do you get an externship or internship?

You can find many internships on job boards. Students or recent graduates can apply for these like they would other roles by submitting a resume and cover letter. Some companies might hold hiring events for interns each year for summer seasons or other busier periods. Colleges also might host on-campus fairs or other events for companies to recruit interns in the springtime.

Externships are often arranged by colleges or universities and local professionals they have relationships with. The college might have a listing board and sponsorships for externships available. Specific departments or careers services usually have these listings.

Related: How to Find an Internship: Leverage Your Connections

In this video, Jenn explains how to find an internship, the top 5 ways to land the job, AND some great advice on what NOT to do.

What are the benefits of an externship or internship?

Both internships and externships can help you in the following ways:

  • Develop skills: You can gain professional skills by performing job duties and observing employees while in your internship or externship.

  • Gain experience for your resume: You're able to add your internship or externship to your resume as work experience. This can add relevant job experience when applying for new roles or positions within your chosen field.

  • Salary: With added experience you can also earn a higher starting salary. Recruiters and hiring managers might offer higher starting salaries to candidates who have more prior experience in the field.

  • Network with professionals: During your internship or externship, you'll meet many professionals to connect with. These contacts can help you set up a professional network, which can be helpful during your professional career. For example, you can ask for references from your network when you're applying for jobs.

  • Transition to the professional workforce easier: Completing an externship or internship can make the transition into a full-time career easier. With both programs, you enter the workplace as a temporary employee, either job shadowing as an extern or taking part in projects and other assigned duties as an intern. This temporary period can help you adjust to the workplace before you apply to roles or positions as a full-time employee.

What kind of experience do you get?

Externships and Internships are beneficial experiences for college students and recent graduate students. Consider staying engaged during the experience and asking questions of your colleagues to get the most out of your experience. Externships and internships are opportunities to explore career paths. If you don't enjoy the internship or externship, the experience can still be very beneficial for you and your career path.

Related: How to List an Externship on Your Resume

Do internships and externships lead to jobs? How do I get hired?

Internships and externships can lead to jobs. Companies often request interns and externs because they need assistance. If you impressed the employer during your internship or externship, they may offer you the job to continue offering support in a similar role. Consider keeping your resume and cover letter up to date during your internship or externship if the employer is interested in hiring you.

You can also approach your intern or extern supervisor about the possibility of moving into a full-time role. Being proactive shows you're interested in the company and eager to start your career with them.

Related: Mistakes to Avoid When Finding an Internship

In this video, Jenn explains how to find an internship, the top 5 ways to land the job, AND some great advice on what NOT to do.

Browse more articles