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Internship vs. Externship: Which Experience is Right for You?

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Are you a student or recent graduate weighing your options for gaining real-world experience? Look no further, because we’re here to break down the age-old debate: internship or externship?

An internship is usually a longer-term program, typically offered by organizations, where participants work on specific projects and tasks related to their field of study. While an externship is a shorter-term observation-based program, often organized by educational institutions, where participants shadow professionals to gain insights into their work.

Internship vs. Externship

An internship is a structured and supervised work experience that provides practical training and exposure to a specific field or industry. It is often a requirement for students to gain practical skills and apply theoretical knowledge in a real-world setting.An externship is a short-term, observational experience that allows individuals to shadow professionals in their field of interest. It offers the opportunity to observe and learn from experienced practitioners without actively participating in tasks or responsibilities.
It involves hands-on work and active involvement in tasks and projects related to the field of study or career. Interns gain practical experience, often performing duties similar to those of regular employees.It is more passive and observational in nature. Participants observe professionals at work, attend meetings and gain insights into the daily operations of the organization or practice. They do not typically perform any actual work.
Internships can last for several weeks to several months, providing participants with an extended and immersive experience in the workplace.Externships are generally shorter in duration, ranging from a few days to a few weeks. They offer a brief but focused exposure to the field or industry.
Its main purpose is an internship is to provide practical training, skill development, and a real-world understanding of the chosen field. It aims to prepare students for future careers and help them make informed career choices.Its primary purpose is an externship to offer insight and exposure to a specific profession or industry. It allows individuals to explore potential career paths, network with professionals, and gain a deeper understanding of the profession.
Interns actively engage in tasks and projects, contributing to the organization’s goals and outcomes. They may be assigned specific responsibilities and are considered members of the team.Externs have a limited level of involvement and primarily observe professionals at work. They do not typically have assigned tasks or responsibilities during their short-term experience.

What is an Internship?

The word “internship” gets thrown around a lot, but what does it mean? An internship is a temporary position with an organization, often related to the intern’s field of study, in which they gain experience and learn new skills. Internships are typically completed during the summer months, but can also be done during the school year.

Internships can last anywhere from a few weeks to a full year and can be either part-time or full-time. Many internships are completed as part of an academic program, and credit may be given for the successful completion of an internship.

An internship is a great way to gain work experience in your desired field, make industry connections, and learn new skills. If you’re considering an internship, be sure to do your research to find one that’s right for you.

What is an Externship?

An externship is an experience-based learning opportunity that typically takes place outside of a traditional classroom or work environment. Externships are generally shorter in duration than internships, and they may or may not be paid positions.

Externships provide students with the chance to shadow professionals in their field of interest, learn about day-to-day job responsibilities, and gain exposure to the working world. Because externships are typically unpaid positions, they are often seen as more accessible than internships for students who cannot afford to take on a paid position.

Pros and cons of Internships and Externships


  • Gain practical experience in your field of interest
  • Build your resume and professional network
  • Earn college credit (in some cases)
  • Potential to land a full-time job offer


  • Can be unpaid or low-paid
  • May be unrelated to your field of study
  • Competition for positions can be high


  • Can be completed during the school year
  • Do not require a long commitment (usually 1-2 weeks)
  • Offer exposure to a variety of professionals and career options


  • Limited hands-on experience in tasks.
  • Short duration limits exposure.
  • Varied quality based on host organization.
  • Potential unpaid, financial constraint.
  • Limited skill development opportunities.

How to choose the right experience for you

One of the most important things to think about is what you want to get out of the experience. Are you looking for hands-on experience in your field of interest? Or are you looking for more of an overview of the industry with less focus on one specific area?

Internships typically last anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, while externships are typically shorter in length, lasting only a week or two. Keep in mind that internships may also require a greater time commitment outside of work hours, such as working on projects or attending informational meetings.

Think about your career goals and how an internship or externship can help you reach them. If you’re looking for a specific type of job after graduation, internships can allow you to gain the necessary skills and knowledge. Externships, on the other hand, can provide valuable insights into different industries and help you explore different career options.

Tips for making the most of your experience

First and foremost, be sure to do your research ahead of time and know what you’re getting yourself into. There’s nothing worse than being caught off guard or feeling out of place.

If you can, try to shadow someone who already has experience in the field you’re interested in. This will give you a better idea of what day-to-day life is like and help you decide if it’s the right fit for you. Once you’ve landed an internship or externship, make the most of it by being proactive and asking lots of questions. Don’t be afraid to speak up if you’re feeling lost or confused – that’s what these experiences are for!

Remember to take advantage of any networking opportunities that come your way. These connections could prove invaluable down the line, so don’t be shy about exchanging business cards or contact information. Whether you’re looking for an internship or an externship, following these tips will help ensure that you have a positive and productive experience.

Key differences between Internship and Externship

  • An internship is typically an on-site work experience within an organization. Interns are often assigned specific roles and responsibilities related to their field of study or career interests. While externship is usually a short-term, observational experience where individuals shadow professionals in their field of interest. Externs do not have specific job responsibilities and primarily observe and learn from professionals in the workplace.
  • Internships can vary in duration, ranging from a few weeks to several months. Some internships can even last for a year or more, especially in the case of long-term or co-op internships. While externships are generally shorter in duration compared to internships. They typically last for a few days to a couple of weeks.
Differences between Internship and Externship


Internships and externships can both provide valuable work experience. It’s important to consider your goals and interests before deciding which route is right for you. If you want the opportunity to gain hands-on skills while exploring different career paths, an internship might be the best choice. But if you are looking for a way to network with professionals in your chosen field and get an insider perspective on a particular job or industry, then an externship could be a great option.

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