Before students commit to a career and graduate, many programs require the completion of an internship or an externship. These opportunities offer you a preview of what a career in your chosen field may be like. They also give students some hands-on experience in their major that can’t be replicated in a classroom. There are some differences between an internship vs externship.
Internships are typically part of a student’s final year in college or after graduation. They can be extremely helpful in a graduate’s post-college plans, with 70% of college interns getting hired by their employer upon internship completion. While some internships offer students a wage, approximately 40% of these placements are unpaid. Students who take an unpaid internship may think of it as an investment in their future, somewhat like a semester of college.
Students may not be as familiar with externships and how they provide experience to new graduates in certain fields. Like an internship, an externship may be a required component of a higher education program. Externships are usually more common at universities with specialized degrees, such as law or medicine.
How an Internship Works
Students can be part of an internship at many different points during their studies. Some high schoolers participate in internships when they are in 11th or 12th grade. However, internships are more common in college, especially during the last two years of university study. Juniors and seniors may spend a lot of time looking for a valuable winter or summer internship experience to supplement their classroom education.
Interns may work with their university’s career services office or advisors in their field to find a quality internship. Companies can also reach out to the university and look for interns in a specific major. Interns must apply for an internship, similar to the job application process, and use a well-written resume to help themselves stand out from the competition.
After conducting interviews, the employer selects an intern and the student begins the assignment. Interns often work in a support role, since they may not have the background knowledge or skills to lead projects. Depending on the company, an intern’s duties consist mainly of administrative tasks, like answering phones, checking emails and supporting staff members. At the conclusion of the internship, some interns get an opportunity to apply for a full-time position with the company.
How an Externship Works
An externship has some similarities when thinking about internship vs externship. Externships are most common in college programs and graduate schools, such as law school or medical school. An externship may be part of the early components of a university program instead of the final semesters. Sometimes, placements for externships are already decided by the university program, giving the student less control over where they will be working.
Externships are also less formal than their internship counterparts. In some placements, the externship does not require a lengthy application process, resume or interview. The externship program at an employer may not have specific duties or assignments for you to complete. Some employers take on students for an externship periodically and define the schedule and duties as needed.
Other externship programs may be part of a program offered through a university. More formal externships have a competitive application process that either the company or the university handles. Students will then have a more structured schedule and specific tasks they need to complete during the placement.
How an Internship vs Externship Differ
The internship vs externship experiences are both associated with college and university programs; however, the two placements have several differences. Internships can be more coveted since they are more likely to lead to a job offer. Externships may not be as vital to certain fields or networking. Here are some of the main differences between an internship vs externship.
One of the biggest disparities between internships and externships is the pay. More than 60% of internships are paid positions, while externships are usually unpaid. Wages for internships are rising, with the average hourly rate for an internship coming in at $20.76. Paid internships are more common with large corporations in the private sector. Nonprofit organizations may offer more students unpaid internships, focusing more on the experience instead of the wages.
The next big difference between an internship and an externship is eligibility for college credit. In most cases, an internship will earn a student between one and six college credits toward their program and graduation. High school internships may not award credit for college, and some internships are taken after graduation for no credit. Externships usually don’t award college credit, even if they are part of a university program.
The time commitment for an internship vs externship may also differ among the programs. An internship will typically last an entire college semester, which can vary between 15 to 17 weeks. Some internships are offered over the summer when a college takes a break. An externship is much shorter, only lasting a day, a week or several weeks.
When comparing the purpose of an internship vs externship, you’ll find that the two conflict. An internship provides valuable work experience in the field and a chance to gain hands-on skills. It’s also a way for students to network and basically audition for a job with a top employer. Externships are more like job shadowing experiences that allow students to get a taste of the program before committing to it.
Why an Internship May Be Right for You
An internship is almost always a smart move for someone new to their career, such as a college senior or graduate. Internships offer many different benefits that other experiences may not be able to match. When a college student is close to graduation, landing a valuable internship could expose them to the best opportunities after graduation.
The biggest benefit to choosing an internship vs externship when in college is the opportunity you get to learn. Internships allow students to gain new knowledge in their field and master new skills. Since they are interns, they are expected to make mistakes, so the stakes aren’t as high. Additionally, they can take their knowledge from the classroom and start to apply it in their internship placement.
The next big benefit is the pay. Since more internships offer a stipend to participants, a college student can afford to take on an assignment. Unpaid job assignments make it harder for students who aren’t wealthy or supported by their parents to participate and gain valuable skills.
Additionally, an internship also provides college credit to students. Most programs in a university require a set number of credits to graduate with the major. College internships allow students to earn credits by participating in a hands-on experience. Some internships that are offered over the summer give you a way to earn extra credits outside of the standard semester schedule and graduate earlier.
Finally, doing a great job in your internship could help you get hired after graduation. Companies usually see an intern as an investment since a lot of money, time and resources are devoted to training students. Many employers bring their interns onto the team in a full-time position if the intern gets results and makes a great impression on management. Interns can also take advantage of the contacts made during their experience and reach out to them throughout their careers for job leads and mentorship.
When an Externship May Be a Better Option
An externship also provides students with benefits in the internship vs externship debate. When a student first enrolls in college and is trying to choose a major, a short-term externship may clarify what path to take. If a student participates in the externship and doesn’t enjoy the work, it’s a minimal time investment and not a waste. You can try out several jobs shadowing externship experiences before finding the right fit.
A short externship also offers the benefit of networking, similar to a longer internship experience. During the externship time, participants should be observant and ready to engage with the regular staff working at the company or organization. This can be a great way to get a dialogue going with someone in the field, and it allows students to expand their contact list. When it’s time to look for a job after graduation, students can connect with the people they met during an externship experience.
Additionally, some externships do a great job of giving students a better idea of what a typical workday looks like. Even a short-term experience can help students develop new practical skills in the field. Medical externships can teach participants about more of the daily tasks they would be required to do in their job. Students can be proactive and ask to assist with duties that the staff is responsible for to develop more proficiency.
How To Land a Great Internship vs Externship
If a college program requires an internship or externship, students need to take action when looking for a placement. Some schools offer assistance with intern placement, and others leave the responsibility up to the student. There are several different methods of landing a great internship or externship placement.
The easiest way to search for open opportunities is through an online search. There are multiple sites devoted to these specific positions that students can research and apply for with an online resume. It’s also possible to go to the individual company or organization you’re interested in and approach them for internship opportunities on their site.
The best resource for internship vs externship placements for many students is their college career center. Individual departments may also help students obtain placement in an internship or externship — that’s why it’s so important to maintain positive relationships with your professors. Some companies also post internship openings on the college job board or use word of mouth to recruit qualified interns.
After finding a great placement, students then need to tackle the internship vs externship application process. You may be required to submit a resume, cover letter, and references. If the credentials are what the company is looking for, then you will be invited to interview with relevant hiring staff. Interviews should always be treated like a formal job interview.
When To Use an Internship vs Externship To Get Hired
If the company or organization chooses someone for an internship vs externship, it’s still important to make the best impression on the job. Interns have to prove themselves as reliable, knowledgeable, skilled and professional during their placement. They must always report to their internship on time and dress appropriately.
When working with others, interns should aim to show off their valuable soft skills, such as collaborating well on a team, solving problems, thinking outside of the box, finding resources, and having a positive attitude. Many employers are more than happy to train students with the nuts and bolts of the specific industry but appreciate someone with solid soft skills as well.
With an internship, students can use the time in their placement to show they have what it takes to be a valuable full-time employee. If they are successful, they could have a job offer by the end of the assignment. An externship may also result in a future job offer if the student impresses the supervisors.
How To Get More Direction for Your Future
College students must take advantage of their time in school and look for ways to move forward in their future careers. By focusing on their studies and earning high grades, they are one step closer to finding success. Additionally, securing a prestigious internship vs externship placement in their major can help them get a brighter future.
At Future Sprout, students and new graduates can learn more about the details of landing an internship or externship. They can also see which type of placement would match their graduation requirements and skills best. You can plan for the best future by determining what is suitable for your goals, whether it’s an internship or an externship.