What is an Externship: Understanding the Whys and Hows of Externships

Everyone desires to have a successful career. This starts from choosing a course for college, finishing school, and attending internships and externships, to writing job search documents and preparing for interviews. It looks like a long process of equipping, learning, and preparation, all leading to achieving career goals.

Nevertheless, there are many ways to prepare to climb the career ladder. One is through on-the-job training programs such as internships and externships. For sure you’ve heard about the former; if you’re not familiar with the latter, you’re on the right page. What is an externship? In this article we’ll talk about what an externship is, so keep scrolling.

What is an Externship?

Let’s talk about the million-dollar question: What is an externship? An externship is a program where college students are immersed in the industry. It’s similar to an internship, but it’s shorter and requires more guided activities where students are given opportunities to acquire hands-on experience.

Externships are part of the curriculum to provide students an overview of how the theories they’ve learned in school are reflected and applied in day-to-day work settings. Since it’s a short practical on-the-job training, externs work on simple projects that don’t require so much time. Moreover, externs usually work under the supervision of other employees. This work setup is commonly known as job shadowing.

This type of firsthand experience gives participants an idea of whether an industry fits their interests and career goals. Even though externships are short and unpaid, the exposure that you’ll get in the field is a plus when you apply for your first job.

What is an Externship and Internship: The Differences

What is an externship and an internship? They are both on-the-job training programs for high school and college students and—in some instances—professionals. An externship and an internship have similarities as they’re both preparatory experiences in pursuing a career. They are an experiential learning opportunity for students to apply what they’ve learned in school and weigh if a profession fits them.

However, despite their similarities, don’t get confused. To paint a picture of their differences, check out these factors.

Interns Being Taught By Doctor On The Job



  • An internship takes a longer time than an externship. Usually, it goes on for 8 or more weeks.
  • Most of the time, students take internship opportunities during the summer or school break. This is because it requires more time and deliverables to finish.


  • This can be taken during the school year since it’s just for a short period of time.
  • Some externship programs only take one day to less than two months.

On-the-Job Training Experience


  • Interns are expected to report to work every day and have responsibilities similar to in-house staff.
  • They can be tasked with working on projects independently or with minimal supervision as per the management’s internship program structure.


  • As mentioned earlier, externships aim to give students an idea of how industries and professions differ through observation in the workplace.
  • Externs aren’t required to work on projects, but they may be trained to work on some minor tasks.
  • Students can apply for several externships in different fields.

Job Expectations


  • In some companies, interns who exhibit remarkable skills and competence in the field are given job offers.
  • There are firms that post internship programs with the intention of hiring interns full-time.


  • Given the duration of externships, it’s rare for firms to hire externs for a full-time position.
  • Externships are usually done in the middle of the school calendar. That’s why instead of job opportunities, externs are offered internship positions.



  • Since you’re working at a firm for several months, there are companies that offer their interns a salary. However, this is not always the case. Hence, if you want to get paid, you can look for internships that pay well.
  • Applying for internships that offer a salary is advantageous because most of these companies offer full-time jobs to their interns.


  • Unlike internships, externships are unpaid. Nonetheless, the skills and experience you acquire from externships can help you get a good salary offer when you apply for a job.

Must-Read: How to Write a Statement of Purpose for Grad School: Tips in Writing Your Story

What is an Externship: Its Benefits

As previously stated, externships help students prepare for the career path they’ll take. With the privilege to job shadow professionals as they do their core responsibilities and observe the workplace processes, it enables externs to acquire skills and realize what profession to pursue. Not only that, here are some more perks for externs.

Engineer Extern Visiting On Site

1. Exposure

Deciding what career to pursue is vital to success. Thus, knowing the ins and outs of various industries can help you make a better choice. Additionally, you gain knowledge of different job positions.

2. Relevant Experience

Externships open doors to better job opportunities as they arm you with relevant work experience. Even though externs are unpaid, having to gain experience is the main goal, which you can include on your resume.

3. Community Engagement

When you apply for externships, you get to meet professionals in different fields. This gives you a network that could be helpful when it’s your turn to look for a job. Some companies follow up with externs who have impressed them and offer them internships and, in later years, job offers.

Must-Read: Cover Letter Writing Tips for Fresh Graduates

Tips on Getting an Externship

For some universities, externships are part of their curriculum, thereby making it easy for students to land an externship program. You can simply go to the career services or guidance counselor office in your school to ask for the requirements to join the program. After that, you’d need to secure a recommendation letter from your professors.

Unfortunately, there are schools that don’t offer this privilege. In that case, we have listed some tips you can do to get an externship.

Connect with Your Professors

If your college doesn’t offer externships, it’s still best to ask your professors for help in connecting you with employers. You can also ask professionals, such as alumni, for referrals. Don’t be afraid to pioneer externships at your college.

Professional Network

To get an externship, you can check professional social media platforms such as LinkedIn and search for postings on top job sites for companies that accept externs. Networking is a key to more externship opportunities. You can grow your professional network by attending seminars and career talks at your university.

Community Organizations

Another way to get externships is through different organizations. You can explore and join the organizations in your area. There are non-profit organizations and government agencies that accept externs.

Must-Read: The Ultimate Guide to Writing a Resume with No Work Experience

What is an Externship: The Examples

As highlighted earlier, externships help students decide the career paths they want to take. Moreover, the experience gives them an idea of what it’s like to work in the field. That’s explains why, regardless of the industry you want to pursue, it’s important not to skip this program. Here are some examples of externship programs:

  • A psychology student spends the day shadowing an HR staff member in a company.
  • An engineering student visits a power plant to learn the workflow of the company.
  • Wishing to major in education, a student learns about concepts of children’s education in a play school.
  • An architecture student spends a week learning the fundamentals of the job on a construction site.
  • With her interest in accounting, a student applies to a firm to experience firsthand case studies and improve understanding of accounting and finance.

An extern candidate acquires valuable insight into the clients through job shadowing, presentations, and client visits.

Must-Read: Effective Tips on How to Explain Employment Gap on Your Resume and During the Job Interview

Hr Department Interviewing Extern Candidate And Reading Their Resume

Should You Put an Externship on Your Resume?

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 55% of employers look for job candidates who have externship experience. Thus, it’s best to highlight them on your resume. In addition, externships help you develop skill sets relevant to the career you want to pursue.

Adding your externship to your job search documents gives hiring managers and recruiters a glimpse of your skills and relevant experience. This is vital information that helps them decide whether you’re worth giving a shot. Plus, having been immersed in the workforce through an externship can help you stand out among other qualified candidates.

Remember: If your work experience and the training programs you attended are relevant to the position you’re eyeing, don’t forget to include them. If you don’t have any work experience, the best way to impress your target employer is by highlighting your externships. Doing so shows hiring managers that you have what it takes to land the role—with your on-the-job training and experience to back your qualifications up.

Related Article: How to Write an Internship Resume in 6 Easy Steps

Take a Step Closer to Your Career Goals with an Externship Program

Securing success requires planning; and there’s no such thing as too early or too late when it comes to preparing for it. Every step on the career ladder is crucial to achieving your goals. Nevertheless, if you’re a student, seize every opportunity—coursework, seminars, externships, and internships—and use them as your stepping stones to turn your career around.

You can also search for trusted sites that could help you in your job search. As one of the pillars in the career development industry, Resume Professional Writers has resources and tools to aid you, such as resume help, career advice, and job search tips.

Leave a Comment

Seraphinite AcceleratorBannerText_Seraphinite Accelerator
Turns on site high speed to be attractive for people and search engines.