Externships and internships are two amazing ways to get real-life, on-the-job experience and jazz up your resumé or make your online portfolio pop. And though the two opportunities are very similar, they’re not the same thing. But don’t fret, opportunity-seekers! Tallo is here to clue you into all the details so you know which options to pursue based on your career goals. We’re here to help you decide which is best for you and how to find an internship or externship that matches up with your professional vision.
What Is an Externship?
First up: Externships. WTF are they, exactly? Externships are temporary job training programs and learning opportunities that usually last anywhere from a single day to six weeks. They allow curious students and trainees to get a glimpse into the real-life workplace, often through shadowing an employee, observing a job site, or volunteering temporarily.
Generally, externships are unpaid and don’t earn you any college credit, though they may be a requirement of your program. Most students complete externships on school breaks, such as during the summer, winter break, or spring break. Think of externships like snippets or “day-in-the-life” experiences that help you gain first-hand insight into your chosen career.
The Benefits of Externships
Externships sound pretty cool, right? Who wouldn’t want to shadow a busy emergency room doctor or spend the day in a bustling newsroom? By getting you out of the classroom and into an actual working environment, you’ll be able to better envision yourself in that career while also picking up essential snippets of career-focused knowledge. Here are some more great benefits of externing:
- They’re short-term, which means they’re not a huge commitment, and you can complete a number of them throughout your education.
- They’re flexible and require minimal time or financial investment, so you can still focus on your schoolwork and other commitments.
- They give you access to professionals who already work in the field, which means you can ask questions and get real answers.
- They help you network with people in your chosen career field, which can lead to jobs, internships, and other opportunities down the road.
- They teach professionalism and show you the non-curriculum side of things, providing experience with meetings, communication, and daily challenges.
- They help you rule out jobs because figuring out what you don’t want to do is just as important as figuring out what you do want to do.
What Is an Internship?
As the more common temporary on-the-job opportunity for students and trainees, internships are excellent for those who want a more in-depth, first-hand look at a certain sector. They, like externships, throw professionals-to-be into real work environments, helping them get a glimpse into what daily life is like in any given field. Unlike externships, you’ll often find that internships for college students pay a small stipend or hourly wage. Typically, internship programs last for several months, with many students completing them during the semester and summer.
The Benefits of Internships
Studies have shown that students who complete internships are more likely to secure full-time employment when they graduate, and it’s not hard to see why! These students have an edge up against the competition because they’re entering the job market with significant on-the-job experience. Some other benefits of internships include:
- They may pay. In fact, about half of all internships pay, and unpaid internships are (thankfully) becoming less and less common.
- They may earn you college credit. Many postsecondary and graduate programs require students to have an internship, so they can help fulfill your requirements.
- They’re more in-depth than externships, which means you’ll learn a lot more and soak up even more benefits, setting you up for a smooth entry into the field.
- They could lead to a job. When you spend several months working at one place, you get the chance to prove your abilities and network with established professionals, which could land you a job down the road.
- They may count towards training hours. Your program may require you to log some clinical or training hours, and your internship may count toward them.
Which One Should You Pursue?
TBH, both internships and externships are super valuable for students and trainees. In our opinion, you should seize every opportunity you get to experience real-life work in the field. Think of it like a glimpse into your future! Timing is important, however. You might consider externing early on in your education and then interning later to ensure that you don’t spend too much time in the wrong field.