Difference between Externship and Internship (Externship vs Internship)

Difference between Externship and Internship (Externship vs Internship)

An externship involves passive observation and limited engagement to gain exposure to a profession, while an internship entails active participation and performing job-related tasks to gain practical experience and develop industry-specific skills.

This article will further explain the difference between externship and internship.

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Experiential learning is crucial in shaping career development, allowing students to develop practical skills and insights into their chosen fields. The definitions, characteristics, and benefits of externships and internships will be explored in this article.

Students can make informed decisions about which path aligns best with their career goals by understanding their differences.

Externship: Exploring the Concept

Students can observe and shadow professionals in their respective fields during an externship. The focus of an externship is primarily on observation rather than active participation.

As a result of exposure to real-world professional environments, students can witness first-hand what a particular profession entails daily. Compared to internships, externships usually last a few days to a few weeks and require less time commitment.

Externships provide students with numerous benefits, including valuable insight into their chosen field by observing professionals at work.

In addition to building professional networks, externships allow students to establish connections with mentors who can assist them with their future careers. Students can also develop transferrable skills that can be applied to future endeavours due to externships.

Internship: Delving into the Experience

On the other hand, internships provide students with a hands-on learning experience, allowing them to participate in the professional environment actively. Interns are given tasks and responsibilities that align with their academic background and career goals.

As a bridge between classroom learning and real-world experience, internships primarily focus on applying theoretical knowledge in practical settings.

Students usually intern longer, ranging from a few weeks to several months or even a year. It allows them to gain a comprehensive understanding of the industry and gain a deeper understanding of the professional environment.

As an opportunity to develop a professional identity and build a strong resume, internships provide students with industry-specific skills and knowledge that employers value highly.

Key Difference Between Externship and Internship

Externships and internships offer valuable experiential learning opportunities, but they differ in several ways:

Nature of involvement

An externship involves passive observation and limited engagement, whereas an internship requires active participation, where students execute job-related tasks and actively contribute to the project.

Level of responsibility and autonomy

Unlike externships, where students primarily observe and learn, internships allow students to take on significant responsibilities and become more autonomous by taking ownership of tasks and projects.

Time commitment and duration

Generally, internships last longer than externships, ranging from a few weeks to several months, whereas externships are shorter.

Academic credit and compensation

A typical externship is not eligible for academic credit or monetary compensation, while an internship generally qualifies for academic credit and may provide a stipend or wage to support students financially.

Target audience and purpose

Those interested in exploring career options and gaining exposure to various fields will most likely benefit from externships. To enhance their skills and job prospects, internships are ideal for students seeking practical experience and deep immersion in their chosen fields.

Differences between externships and internships

Nature of InvolvementPassive observation and limited engagementActive participation and performing tasks
Level of ResponsibilityMinimalSubstantial
Time CommitmentShorter (few days to weeks)Longer (a few weeks to months, sometimes a year)
Academic CreditUsually not eligibleOften eligible
CompensationUsually unpaidMay offer stipends or wages
Target AudienceStudents exploring career optionsStudents seeking practical experience
FocusExposure to real-world professional environmentsApplying theoretical knowledge in practical settings
BenefitsInsight into a profession, networking, skill developmentIndustry-specific experience, building a strong resume
PurposeExploring various fields and gaining exposureGaining practical experience and developing skills
Differences between Externship and Internship (Externship vs Internship)

Considerations for Choosing Between Externships and Internships

When deciding between externships and internships, students should consider various factors to ensure a well-rounded experience that aligns with their goals:

Individual goals and career objectives

Evaluate whether your primary focus is exploring different fields, gaining exposure (externship), gaining practical experience, and developing specific skills (internship). Consider which option will best align with your long-term career objectives.

Available resources and time constraints

You may want to consider externships with limited time or other commitments. Externships are shorter in duration so they may be a better option for you. In addition to careful planning and coordination with your academic schedule, internships require a substantial time commitment.

Academic requirements and prerequisites

Depending on your academic program or institution, participation in externships or internships may require specific requirements or prerequisites. Experiential learning opportunities may be subject to guidelines or criteria students must meet before participating.

Industry and field-specific expectations

Research the expectations and norms of your desired field or industry. Some industries, such as engineering and medicine, value internships for their practical skills and exposure to the industry, while others, such as law and psychology, value externships for their broader understanding of the field. You can make an informed decision if you understand the industry’s preferences.

Networking and future job prospects

Consider the networking opportunities provided by both externships and internships. Externships may provide valuable connections with professionals across various fields, allowing you to expand your network. Alternatively, internships can provide valuable connections within a particular industry, resulting in future job opportunities.

Do externships and internships provide networking opportunities?

There is no doubt that externships and internships provide individuals with valuable networking opportunities. Students can connect with experienced individuals through externships by observing and shadowing professionals in their chosen fields.

Interacting with professionals can help students form meaningful relationships, seek guidance, and gain insights into their fields of study. As a result of externship networking, students can gain valuable mentorships, job shadowing experiences, and referrals for future careers.

On the other hand, the networking opportunities offered by internships are even more extensive. By actively participating in workplace activities and collaborating with professionals, interns can establish relationships with supervisors, colleagues, and industry experts.

It is possible to gain insight into the industry, get recommendations, and access job openings through these connections. Additionally, internships often involve team projects, seminars, or networking events where interns can interact with professionals from various departments or organizations, expanding their professional networks.

Can I complete an externship or an internship remotely?

It is possible to complete an externship or internship remotely, thanks to the increasing availability of virtual work arrangements and technological advancements. Individuals can gain valuable professional experience and skills through remote externships or internships.

Through online platforms, video conferences, and communication tools, participants can engage in tasks and projects, collaborate with supervisors and team members, and receive mentorship and guidance.

Online job boards, career platforms, and professional networks can be used to locate remote externship or internship opportunities. Remote positions must be carefully reviewed, including the expected time commitment, responsibilities, and technological requirements.

Can I do an externship or an internship while studying abroad as an international student?

It is possible for international students to participate in externships and internships while studying abroad. However, the availability and requirements may vary depending on the destination country and academic program.

Several universities and academic institutions offer international students the opportunity to participate in externships or internships. In addition to helping students find suitable placements and navigate visa requirements, these programs ensure compliance with local laws and regulations and ensure compliance with visa requirements.

International students should research and consult with their academic advisors and study abroad offices before pursuing an externship or internship abroad to learn about specific guidelines and procedures.

They may need to obtain the necessary work permits or visas, ensure that the externship or internship aligns with their academic program requirements, and address any language or cultural issues.
Additionally, international students should consider practical matters such as housing, transportation, and health insurance when planning an externship or internship abroad.

International students can maximize their experiential learning opportunities while studying abroad if they prepare thoroughly and seek guidance from relevant authorities.

Conclusion: Externship vs Internship

Experiential learning through externships and internships is an essential component of career development. Externships offer observation and exposure, allowing students to explore different fields and gain insights into different professions.

By participating in internships, students gain valuable industry-specific experience that enables them to apply their knowledge and skills in real-world situations.

A student’s decision about which path aligns best with their career goals depends on their understanding of the key differences between externships and internships.

When choosing between the two programs, consider individual objectives, resources available, academic requirements, industry expectations, and networking opportunities.

There are numerous opportunities for personal development, skill development, and professional connections available through externships and internships, regardless of the path chosen.


  1. Lionel D. Wyld, Journal of Technical Writing and Communication, “Practical professional training through internships“.
  2. Mary Jo Eyster, Clinical L. Rev., “Designing and Teaching the Large Externship Clinic“.

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