Internships Vs Externships : Complete Guide

If you are studying and trying to figure out your career path, you may be exploring various internships & externships. Internships and externships tend to be of wide variety with various pros and cons and other factors to consider.

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Internships Vs Externships : Complete Guide

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In this comprehensive guide, we will learn all about internships & externships and internships vs externship opportunities. And other relevant questions such as their value on your resume and career path and how to get them and which option is best for you.

Most successful professionals enter their career field with internship and externship experience because entry level jobs are very difficult to get without any experience. You can do them during your graduation or last months before completing your graduation when the studies may be completed or about to be completed.

internship vs externship

💡Fun Fact: Every year about 300,000 people take up internships in the USA.


Now let's dive into answers for all your questions!👇

What is an internship?

An internship program allows you to explore the environment of real job, getting familiar with the role responsibilities and handling them. This experience is quite similar to having the real job and you can learn a lot from internship programs.

Internships are usually long enough to last from 1 month to a whole semester (4 to 6 months). You can do the internships in the field of your interest and learn how it will be when you go out there and get a real job.

Some employers offer the job after you complete the internship if they are impressed with your performance.

Internships are a lot like job training and if you have done internships you are likely be comfortable and good at your first job from the beginning.

There are many unpaid internships and also paid internships. Depending on your field, degree you are pursuing and the employer you are interning at, your compensation of the stipend may be small or significant and good.

Internships have academic credits that usually counts for your graduation degree. Most graduate and post graduate degrees have internships incorporated as a mandatory part of curriculum. They usually fall in the last semesters or second semesters.

Upon completing the internship, you also get a certificate of having completed the internship which can be very valuable for your resume and next professional experiences.

Internships provide you an opportunity to get familiarized with your future job in professional setting. You also get a better clarity of your career path. You will figure out if the particular field and the role are right for you or if you want to try something else that is similar but also a bit different.

What is an externship program?

Externship is an experience where you get to familiarize yourself to the environment and the role responsibilities and you also get to explore various roles and jobs.

Externship is more of a job shadowing program rather than doing the job duties in training manner. Externships are usually short lasting few days or few weeks at most.

Because they are short, you can explore multiple externships in short time period and figure out which role or the career field and also the career journey. Externships are explored during your graduation or at the end of your graduation.

During your externship you do not participate with job's tasks rather you observe the professionals do the job. You shadow the professional doing the job and understand what does the particular field and role entail and what are the responsibilities.

However, you may be expected to contribute and assist at times if required. Externships are usually unpaid and rarely any compensation is offered.

That said, you may receive a feedback from the employers regarding your skills, employment opportunities in the future and career field.

internship vs externship

Internship vs externship

Now what are the differences in the internships and externships? How can you decide which is suitable for you? If your graduation is halfway or more completed, you may be wondering whether you should go for an internship program or an externship.

One of the important factor to consider is whether you are clear about the role you want to build your career with.

Internship allows you to explore the experience of one particular role and other roles that may be very similar. Externship allows you to explore multiple roles and fields in short period of time so you can get a better clarity in case you are confused about your career and field.

Let's explore other factors now.👇


Internships may be paid or unpaid. However with the increasing awareness, freshers and students are realizing that they are contributing with worthy skills and their contribution makes significant difference for the employer and they deserve to be paid for that. With this, internships with no monetary compensation are decreasing now.

As mentioned before the compensation and the number of hours required everyday as your contribution may vary in internships.

If your role is quite significant along with the contribution, you may be making a big difference for the employer and the team's productivity. If the employer company is doing well or well established, your compensation might be truly significant (more than minimum wage).

On the other hand the experience that does not allow much of active contribution, does not pay either. Externships are not paid positions. You will not be able to receive any stipend or monetary compensation for completing an externship program.

Program Design

The program design for internships and externships is different. As an intern you get involved and handle the job. The externship is all about observation and involve shadowing on minor projects rather than active involvement with the role responsibilities.

Externships help get an exposure that is necessary for basic understanding of the field and may be considered a classroom experience. Internships are voluntary and counts as field experience.

Externships may have particular career objective required for the curriculum while internship may be of one relevant field chosen by the students according to their own interest.

internship vs externship

College credit

College credit is earned through various courses, programs and internships. Externships do not convert to credits that can be counted for graduate degree or such.

Internships on the other hand can be counted for graduation in a form of college credit. However, the criteria for such credit approval is often left at the discretion of the program coordinator or the internship coordinator.

📌Criteria may vary however some of the basic requirements may be:

  • Relevant field of the degree the student is pursuing
  • Interns perform well with the relevant specialized duties allotted
  • Employer feedback and internship coordinator approval

Internship opportunities may not always have the college credit option but still be valuable experience for college students and their career connections.


The duration of any opportunity varies, for example, an internship can last from 1 month to 6 months. The distinction can be made between externship vs internship because the internship does have the minimum period of 1 month while the externship may only require few days or weeks.

Externships are usually few days or weeks long which means you can pursue multiple externship is a short period of time in case you are not clear on which role and career path you want to take for your career goals.

Internship can last for 6 months and you need to have the clarity of role and the field beforehand because you cannot complete multiple internships in the time period you may have available.

The duration of internship may also vary based on your role and industry. Various industry professionals have different levels of difficult role responsibilities and you may require different time periods to get familiarized with them.

Employment opportunities

Employment opportunities depend on the employer's feedback and your competency to complete the job responsibilities as a professional.

During your externship you only shadow the professionals and you do not acquire any actual work experience meaning the chances of your getting an employment opportunity based on your externships are very low.

During your internship you have done a lot of actual work for more than a month in a real workplace environment which counts as real world experience of the role.

With such experiences, the chances are employers will have the ability to judge your performance and provide a good feedback and if your performance is good enough, the employers would want to hire you as well.

Employers want the employee to be experienced enough to start working without having to be trained first and internship experience in your work history counts like a training allowing you to start performing as a professional from day 1.

Many times, if you have performed well during your internship, the employer who provided you with the internship also offers you a job at the end of the internship.

Employers prefer to hire their interns as full time professionals at the end of their internship because by that time they have gotten familiar with the company, company goals and their role.

Rather than having to hire someone who may be an experienced professional yet unfamiliar with their particular company, it is better to hire the intern who has already become a part of the company and knows how to do the job very well.

What this means for you is that during your internship, you should try your best to perform well and make meaningful and significant contributions to convince the employer that you should stay there and they should not let you go.

internship vs externship

How to get the externships?

We discussed the externship vs internship, what they are and what are the differences between them. Now you may be wondering how to get them!

To get an externship, you have few options available at your disposal. You should note that both internships and externships require sincere efforts.

Internship provides hands on experience and externship provides an insight into the role and responsibilities while you shadow the professionals or attend staff meetings.

To get such opportunities, first you need to perform well with your academics because the employers will not hire you as an intern if you have nothing to show for your ability to learn well and your intelligence along with your interest for the role.

Your academic credit means a lot when you are looking for these opportunities. To gain experience, you have to first show that you are able to comprehend the experience and learn from it.

📌To get the externships you need to:

  • Contact your career center or academic advisor
  • Connect with your professors and ask them for recommendations
  • Prepare your resume with all the relevant information (you can include freelance experience)
  • Highlight your skills in your resume
  • Provide answers in interview with confidence
  • Provide the latest grades/results-transcripts for proof of good academic performance

How to get internships?

Getting internship may be easier for some students because of the clarity of particular role. Always look for internships that offer college credit. Internships may help you get exposure of hands on experience, team projects, practical experience an more that will help you gain valuable work experience.

📌To get an internship you can:

  • Contact the career counselor & professors
  • Keep checking job boards
  • Explore job sites such as LinkedIn
  • Explore networking events with potential employers
  • Prepare a compelling resume with intriguing resume summary
  • Highlight your skills and relevant course work you have completed

Getting an internship will be easier if you have good network of professors, seniors and professionals in the field who know you and your academic performance well.

internship vs externship


In conclusion, internships & externships both are valuable when it comes to getting deeper understanding of the roles and its responsibilities. The differences of duration and involvement may be the important factors to consider when you are looking for both opportunities.

If you have not made up your mind about the role you want to take on in your career, externships are a good option but if you have made up your mind then internships will be excellent choice because it will provide you experience, college credit and even hourly wage or more.

You can also consider more factors discussed in this article. Once you have decided what is suitable for you, you can refer to our resume writing guides and templates along with examples to create a compelling resume for the potential employers.

Good luck with your career building!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What are the key differences for internship vs externship?

Key differences are the duration, hands on experience and the compensation. You can make your decision of better choice from internship vs externship based on these factors.

Which is longer- internship or externship?

Internships are usually longer- lasting from 1 month to 6 months. Externships last for few a days or weeks.

Which is more valuable experience- internship or externship?

Internship is valuable because it may offer college credit and counts as professional experience on your resume which is quite valuable for your first employment and employment offers. Externship is valuable in terms of the clarity and exposure you can acquire in a short period of time. Depending on the importance of these factors for you, you may decide which is more valuable experience for you.

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