Students new to college life have undoubtedly heard of the term “internship” but probably not “externship.” Believe it or not, such a thing does exist and while it may not be for everyone, this type of work experience opportunity does have its advantages for those best suited.
What is An Externship?
An externship serves the same purpose as an internship: to provide students with a real-world, insider’s look at the daily operations of a particular company/business in a particular field or industry. While internship participants are known as “interns,” students in externships are called “externs.”
If externships have the same purpose as internships, what makes them so different? There are a few key factors that answer this question. The first is the duration of the experience. A majority of internships programs typically last a few weeks to a few months. This requires a large time commitment from interns. On the flip side, externships are short-term assignments, ranging from a few days to a few weeks.
Compensation for internships can be paid, unpaid or offer partial payment, such as a stipend. Additionally, college credit is awarded to student interns that complete the program successfully. For externships, offering payment of some kind is very few and far in between. They also don’t typically provide college credit for students that participate in the externship.
Internships are very hands-on and have students working alongside their mentor and other employees within the company. Externs act as a “shadow” and instead of participating in daily activities, they merely follow their assigned mentor and observe what’s going on.
After all that, you might be wondering why a college student should even bother with an externship. However, there are benefits to participating in this type of work experience opportunity.
Benefit #1: Short-Term Commitment
Most standard internships not only last a few weeks to months, it could require as much as up to 40 hours per week of a student’s time. This usually applies to summer internships. Holding down an internship during the school term is even more difficult of a balancing act, even if the hours are part-time.
Externships only ask for a few days or weeks out of an extern’s schedule, which is much more convenient for full-time students.
Benefit #2: Helps With Decision Making
Not all college students know exactly what they want to do, career-wise or even major-wise for that matter. Indecisive students that can’t choose or who have a few options they’re considering will find externships extremely helpful in giving them just enough of an insider’s glimpse into a particular company/business. Short-term exposure is often enough to allow a student to really see if they picture themselves in such a position/career after graduation.
Additionally, being an extern means not having to struggle through a long internship that you end up not enjoying or being a good fit for.
Benefit #3: Less Work
Interns do everything asked of them, which can range from helping with projects to the mundane like answering phones and running errands for people. Externs, however, only have to shadow/follow their mentor around and observe the goings-on.