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What is an externship and how can it help your career?

What is an externship and how can it help your career?

Artwork by: Katya Simacheva

  • What is the purpose of an externship?
  • Internship vs. externship: How do they differ?
  • What to expect during an externship
  • Do externships look good on a resume?
  • 3 Tips for finding a great externship program
  • 1. Start with research
  • 2. Revamp your resume
  • 3. Practice your interview
  • Key takeaways

How do you choose the best career path for your skills and experience? It can be hard to narrow down your options so that you choose a career where you use them effectively. In this blog, we will look at how externships can help build your career.

Developing a lifelong career takes dedication, work, and a commitment to continual learning. Part of that learning process requires you to discover more about your skills and how they correlate to the jobs you hold. One great tool you can use to do this is an externship. These short-term work projects can help you learn more about an industry or field and help you decide if you want to explore a particular profession or company.

In this blog, we will learn more about externships and how they can benefit you throughout your career. Here’s what we will be covering:

  • What is the purpose of an externship?

  • What to expect during an externship

  • Do externships look good on a resume?

  • Tips for finding a great externship program

What is the purpose of an externship?

Externships are designed to help professionals have access to practical, hands-on experience working in a particular field or industry. If you are someone who is struggling to decide which career path is best or how to develop your career and move in the right direction, an externship may be beneficial. Here are some of the things an externship can help you accomplish:

  • Research a career path. If you haven’t fully committed to a particular field or career path, an externship can help you learn more about that career. Since an externship is often short term, you can learn about the daily tasks, responsibilities, and the work environment before you begin working in that field on a long-term basis. 

  • Pursue growth opportunities. Another way an externship can help an employee is when they are striving for personal growth. An externship challenges you to step out of your comfort zone and try something new, which can be beneficial when you are trying to grow on a personal level.

  • Develop skills. You can also gain a wide range of skills when you participate in an externship. Anything from technical and interpersonal skills to problem-solving skills may be needed during an externship, so you will find that you are better prepared for future employment following one.

  • Explore employment options. Many companies prefer candidates who have work experience in a particular industry, which you can gain by participating in an externship program. The experience can help open up more opportunities for employment in the future.

  • Expand your network. Another benefit of an externship is that you can gain valuable networking opportunities as well as mentorship and guidance from industry leaders.

  • Confirm career goals. Finally, an externship is a great tool to use when you are hoping to solidify the career goals you currently have in place. During your externship, you’ll gain insights into the day-to-day duties of a particular role, which may wind up impacting your current career goals.

Internship vs. externship: How do they differ?

Though similar, internships and externships have several differences. For starters, internships typically focus on students or newly graduated individuals. Those participating in internships also tend to have larger responsibilities within a company and could wind up with long-term commitments.

On the flip side, externships tend to be short-term projects and are designed to give individuals a brief look into a specific profession or industry. The goal of an externship is to provide exposure to potential career paths and give individuals insight that helps them make more informed decisions about their future. Externships are also less likely to be paid positions when compared to internships, which may be either paid or unpaid.

What to expect during an externship

When participating in an externship program, you should expect a structured experience and education that is designed to give you more information about a particular role, company, or industry. While each is different, here are a few of the most common ways externships are structured:

  • Most externships involve shadowing or watching a professional as they work. You will be able to get firsthand accounts of the various roles and duties they have.

  • You will also have opportunities to ask questions about everything related to the role or industry. The professionals you are working with will also provide you with detailed explanations and guidance about your career path in that industry.

  • Externships may also offer access to specialized workshops and seminars that cover topics related to the industry or that help with professional development.

  • Most externships are more observational, but some will provide you with an opportunity to get hands-on experience.

  • Following your externship, you may also receive feedback and evaluations regarding your performance, knowledge, and skills in the industry.

Do externships look good on a resume?

While externships aren’t the same as traditional roles of employment in an organization, they are valuable and still have a place on your resume. To employers, they are seen as a tool that enhances your knowledge and qualifications in a role, which means you now have relevant experience that can help you perform well in a traditional role.

Employers also like to see externships on resumes because they know you have spent time developing and refining your skills. This demonstrates a commitment to the industry and becoming a better version of yourself.

Another benefit of an externship is the networking opportunities you are exposed to. Connecting to other professionals in the industry, gives you access to mentors and job referrals, which can be beneficial when submitting a resume.

3 Tips for finding a great externship program

Now that you’ve learned more about externships, it’s time to discover some of the things you can do to find a great program. Keep these tips in mind when you are searching for a program to fulfill your goals.

1. Start with research

Your first step in selecting a program is to research the industries and companies you are most interested in and learn more about the externship programs available in those areas.

2. Revamp your resume

After you have chosen the right externship program, you will need to ensure your resume is tailored to that specific program. If you apply for multiple programs, revise your resume with each application to ensure it's targeted towards the demands and requirements of the specific program.  

3. Practice your interview

An interview will likely be conducted, so practice in advance. Also, when making a list of questions to ask, include questions about what to expect during the program.

We are here to help you every step of the way on your career path journey. Stop by our website to learn more about our career pathway services.

Key takeaways

  1. An externship usually involves individuals shadowing working professionals to learn more about a particular job or industry, but some also offer hands-on experience.

  2. Externships are usually short-term programs that help you build your skills and decide if a career path is the right one.

  3. Employers value externships and love seeing them on resumes because they give applicants real-world experience.

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