One of the most effective ways a high school senior, college student, or college graduate can get invaluable experience working in their intended field of study or area of work is to participate in an internship or externship. While internships and externships are not graduation requirements at most colleges and universities, they can be worth pursuing, considering they give students the chance to apply what they study and learn to a work situation and professional environment. The decision to complete an internship or externship and take on the responsibilities associated with one or focus solely on schoolwork is up to you, but make sure you know the differences between such work experiences before choosing so you can make the best selection to benefit your future. Described below are the differences between externships and internships and the training and credentials that may be required to complete them.

What is an externship?

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Before you can make an externship vs internship list of pros and cons to determine which kind of program is better for you, you must know the defining characteristics of each. An externship allows participants to connect their career interests and the workplace, getting firsthand experience and learning how organizations operate. Externships can be short-term arrangements set up by a college or the participant. They may consist of observation opportunities that allow individuals to shadow professionals at work, understand their duties, sit in on meetings, and interview employees to learn about working in a specific sector. Most externships are typically short-term, unpaid arrangements, whereas graduate externships usually last longer and can be part-time or full-time, resulting in college credit or pay.

What is an internship?

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While an externship may provide you with the chance to explore a specific career field and assess your fit for certain positions and organizations through observing the workplace and the typical work week, an internship allows you to be more hands-on in your exploration of a career field. An internship can be set up through high school guidance counseling offices or advising offices in colleges and universities. It may be available in various career fields, like education, technology, business, nonprofit organizations, and the government. Be mindful that the requirements for completing an internship can vary depending on the field. For instance, participants working and interning in a training program in the health care field may need to get CPR and first aid certification. Likewise, students doing an internship in a clinical laboratory may have to get research certification.

Internship participants can complete their programs during the traditional fall and spring semesters or summer break and typically receive academic credit or pay. Depending on the organization offering the internship, participants can complete them on-site or remotely. A remote or virtual internship can be a flexible, convenient way of gaining skills and experience during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Completing a program remotely or virtually can be successful through an online training platform robust and efficient enough to deliver eLearning success. Customizable dashboards and platforms and digital tools empowered by open-source technology can be just what students, interns, professors, and organizations need to facilitate learning tasks effectively.

Externships and internships can both be beneficial.

Ultimately, participating in an externship or an internship can prepare an individual for their future career. The skills and information you learn during such programs can help you land a job offer, considering many employers prefer recruiting candidates who have hands-on internship experience. You can make beneficial career connections and strengthen your professional network and bring more value to your résumé if you choose to complete an externship or an internship and meet its training requirements.