The workforce is extremely competitive. College students must make a huge effort to stand out from other applicants. You must take advantage of your time in school. There are certain things that you can do right not to prepare for the workforce. 

It starts with building certain skills that are valued by employers. These skills may include teamwork, verbal communication, analytical and problem-solving skills and having a strong work ethic. Employers also look for certain factors during the prescreening process, such as extracurricular activities and integrated learning. At the undergraduate level, you should seek out ways to gain experience. 

Internships and externships are ways to learn skills for your chosen career industry. First, it helps to understand the difference between an internship and an externship. 

What is Externship vs Internship?

An internship is a position that an intern holds within an organization. It allows the intern to gain work experience or to fulfill a credit requirement. The person who holds this position is usually an undergraduate student or a student in general. On the other hand, an externship starts out as a partnership between educational institutions and employers. The student has an opportunity to observe the day-to-day activities of a professional in their field of interest.

This experience allows you to network with other professionals in the industry. It also helps with determining if you are choosing the right career path. These points listed are some of the factors that distinguish between externship vs internship. 

What is the Timeframe for Each Position?

One of the ways to tell the difference is the duration of the position. An internship can last from a month to a year. On the other hand, an externship is a short learning experience. It can last from a day to two weeks. This position is not as formal as an internship. 

You will not find them on email mailing lists or on job boards. Some schools even offer externships as part of their academic programs. To obtain this position, it is a matter of networking. You can obtain externships through a variety of sources: 

  • Family friends
  • Parents’ colleagues
  • Leaders in your local community

However, there is an exception to the nurse externship. It can last from six to 10 weeks. Externs are put in a position to shadow a professional nurse. For a nurse externship, you must meet certain requirements to qualify.

Potential nursing externs must have:

  • Meet a minimum GPA requirement
  • Complete a medical and surgical clinical
  • Complete an application
  • Get multiple letters of recommendations from faculty

Nursing externs can gain confidence in this position. They obtain hands-on experience with complex medical cases and comorbidities. Externs also have the opportunity to learn a day to day shift is like in a health facility. Ultimately, this invaluable experience prepares you for working as a nurse. 

Is It Paid or Voluntary?

Internships can be voluntary, paid, can receive course credit or be virtual. College students should take advantage because of the experience. You are not guaranteed employment upon completion of the internship. However, employers use internships to evaluate and train potential job prospects.

On the other hand, students do not receive payment or school credit for externships. However, they will gain valuable experience. The student gets to spend time in the workplace and follow the working professional around. He or she will learn how to do parts of this professional’s job. 

Reasons Why Companies Offer Internships and Externships

You are probably wondering why a company would go through the trouble of training an employee who will only work short term. However, companies hire interns for a variety of reasons. These reasons may include: 

  • Free and affordable labor
  • To complete a major project or event
  • To attract students to their training programs
  • To build relationships with colleges and universities
  • To create a talent pipeline

Some employers create these student learning experiences to hire employees. However, every employer is not looking to hire for a long-term position. Hiring externs and interns are good for employers looking to hire entry-level talent. They can evaluate the students’ capabilities without entering into a contract. 

Many externs and interns come back to the same position every year until graduation. The employer gains insight into whether the student is a good fit for the company. Working with the same intern or extern saves the company money and time. Companies may ask some of the students to return for full-time employment after graduation. It is an advantage for companies to hire ex-interns and externs. They already understand the job and knows how the company works. 

Many employers want to build a relationship with colleges and universities. The recruitment process for externs and interns allows employers to reach out to these organizations. Some employers may reach out directly to faculty members about job offers. Faculty members can help with recruiting students with a specific skill set. Others may post jobs directly on the university’s career center website. Career fairs also allow employers to increase their exposure on college campuses. 

Many organizations have special projects that they do not have time to work on. Hiring interns and externs allow companies to complete these projects. Regular employers must work on projects and fulfill their job obligations. It is different for externs and interns. They only have to work exclusively on the projects during their time with the company. 

Many companies use this process to create a pool of talent. They take candidates from this pool to fill entry-level positions. Hiring the recruits mean not having to retrain the person, which makes the process easy. 

What Do Students Get from This Experience?

It is beneficial for students to gain experience in their field of study. Students can learn a variety of skills from becoming interns and externs. These benefits may include:

  • Developing knowledge in a specific field
  • Learning how businesses work
  • Learning what challenges occur daily
  • Creating a network of contacts
  • Gaining valuable work experience
  • Acquiring university credits
  • Getting the national minimum wage for paid work
  • Applying academic study to live work environment

This experience allows for building skills that can be used in the real world. Students develop skills in problem-solving, client relationship management and project management. It does not matter if the externship or internship is short. This time is valuable. You will come away with transferable skills. Working as an extern or intern allows for connecting with professionals within the industry. It also looks good on your resume. 

What are the Job Duties?

The job duties for externs and interns tend to vary. You have to consider three factors:

  • The employer
  • The industry
  • The position

An internship is different from traditional employment. It has an emphasis on training. On the other hand, a position as an extern is a little different. You may be working closely with an industry professional. An extern will learn parts of the person’s job. For example, if you worked with a nurse, then you may learn how to take blood from a patient. 

However, student externs and interns should not get overzealous. You should not expect to get a big client within the first week. Students must remain patient and show a strong work ethic. The main purpose of the experience is for students to serve in a support role. Some employers want you to learn the job from the bottom up. Students may have to carry out boring and tedious tasks. Common tasks may include sorting mail, filing, data entry, and scheduling appointments. 

For some interns and externs, the responsibilities may increase. It can lead to becoming a key member of a team. Ultimately, student externs and interns can make significant contributions to a company. 

Do You Need Experience?

Students do not necessarily need experience, but employers will look at certain things. These things may include:

  • Course credits
  • Volunteering opportunities
  • Part-time jobs
  • Student clubs
  • Student portfolios

Some students may pass on volunteer jobs because of not getting paid. It is a chance to develop skills and to network. Students should also pick up part-time jobs. They can learn transferable skills from these positions. Many campuses offer a variety of student groups. These groups may include sororities, fraternities, business clubs, associations, and community groups. Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) is a popular club on university campuses. This club exposes members to public speaking and competing against other schools. 

Volunteering is a good way to gain experience. Many companies and organizations need volunteers to help out in their facilities. It shows the student is a go-getter to employees looking for externs and interns. Students should look for volunteer opportunities in their field of study. Freelancing is an alternative to getting a part-time job. This position may include free and paid work. For example, if you are a computer programmer, then you may write programs for someone. These opportunities can help a student with building a portfolio. This process also allows students to build a variety of skills.

The student must market their service. After obtaining the client, he or she must develop a plan for the work. The student also has to determine how much to charge for the service. Freelancing allows you to learn skills that can be used in the professional world. 

It is time to start looking for internships and opportunities as an extern. The right time to apply for internships may depend on the type of internship. College students can start applying to internships as early as their freshman year. If you are interested in a certain intern or extern position, then you should ask about it six months in advance. You want to give the company time to consider candidates and to plan for the position. 

What is an externship and internship?

This question is commonly asked among college students. One of the most common differences is the length. An internship can last from a month to a year. On the other hand, externs can work for a company from a day to two weeks.What is an externship and internship? Formality is another difference. Working as an extern is not as formal as an internship. 

You will not find this position in an email list or on job boards. An internship is more formal. Students may have to fill out an application or get a recommendation. On the other hand, an employer can offer a student a position as an extern. Another key difference is the requirements of the position. Interns may carry out boring and tedious tasks. However, they can work their way up to more responsibility. Student interns can help with completing special projects or work major events. 

A student extern can be a more hands-on experience. He or she gets to follow a professional around. The professional will show the extern what he or she does daily. The extern gets to shadow a professional who is in a specific industry of interest. The differences are clear, but interns and externs are similar in a good way. Students should take advantage of opportunities that allow for networking. They also should take advantage of opportunities to learn new skills. It is an honor to work with professionals in your field of study as well. 

Some students may even hold an internship during their entire college career. If you are concern about your resume, then you should start building experience. Becoming an extern or intern is the first step toward building experience for your resume. 


Start building your experience today with International Medical Aid. Medical students can gain valuable experience working aboard. They can shadow nurses, doctors, nutritionists, counselors, dentists, and physician assistants. It is a life-changing experience that allows you to help people in need. Become an extern or intern today!