Before students graduate from college, they usually search for internships and externships. They can advance in their careers and receive course credit due to these experiences. 

Both externships and internships are important, and knowing how they differ can help you select the best option.

In this guide, we’ll distinguish internships from externships. We’ll describe the significance of each one and discuss how they differ. 

Let’s begin. 

What is an Internship? 

An internship is similar to a temporary job where you can gain experience in a particular field. The purpose is to help you (whether a student or a new graduate) gain practical knowledge and skills for future full-time employment in your desired career. 

Internships may or may not pay you, and you may work full- or part-time. You’ll collaborate directly with experts in your industry while you’re an intern. You can be given assignments and projects to complete. 

This is your chance to acquire sector knowledge, develop your talents, and create a network of business contacts. Getting valuable experience through internships can be a great approach to advance your career.

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What is an Externship? 

An externship is different. It’s like observing experts in your area go about their regular business. Usually unpaid, it gives you an understanding of what a profession or field is really like. 

Externships are a fun opportunity to test out a new profession or learn more about a subject you’re interested in. You won’t have any duties or projects during an externship. Instead, you’ll observe and probe to learn more about the sector. 

An externship is a fantastic option if you’re unsure of your preferred career. It’s also an excellent option if you want to learn more about a subject before committing to an internship or degree program.

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Externship vs. Internship: How Are They Different? 

While internship and externship are not the same, both are meant to provide you with practical knowledge and experience. The crucial point is that while they are both different, none is necessarily better.

Let’s examine internships and externships in more detail to demonstrate this:

  1. Timing and Duration 

Usually, internships last a set amount of time, such as a few days or months. The time frame depends on the organization’s offerings and your availability. 

Internships usually coincide with academic terms or summer vacations so that students can gain practical experience while still in school or just before starting a job.

Typically, an externship lasts less time than an internship. Externships may only last a few days or weeks. They are designed to give you a highly concentrated observation period within a limited time frame. 

Externships frequently occur throughout school breaks or at other convenient times for the extern and the professionals they observe.

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  1. Focus and Purpose 

Internships are similar to structured programs that provide people with real-world work experience. You put your knowledge to use, pick up new information, and explore various career options. 

The two key benefits of internships are gaining practical experience and observing how experts work. Interns frequently work on initiatives or tasks that benefit the company while receiving professional assistance.

Externships are unique. They primarily include observing and learning from field experts. The purpose of an externship’s purpose is to allow you to observe a work environment, industry practices, and professional interactions. 

You can observe professionals, participate in meetings or activities, and ask questions during an externship to better grasp your chosen field.

  1. Getting College Credit.

Unlike internships, externships are typically short-term experiences during which you may not receive college credit. Many colleges may advise or even require you to complete internships before graduation. 

There may be a class in your curriculum where you can advance toward graduation while gaining industry experience. 

For example, if you enroll in a course called “Internship,” you can show your instructor that you completed the program and discuss the lessons you learned.

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  1. Compensation 

You can still make money by working as interns even though externships and internships may not be paid. Your pay is based on both your work and the company. 

For example, they provide money for fuel if you’re an intern doing tasks like running errands for full-time employees. 

An internship may be preferable to an externship if you’re a student who wants to earn money while learning about your field.

  1. Supervision and Responsibilities

Interns take on a more active role through internships. They frequently receive particular assignments, such as jobs, projects, or tasks that benefit the organization. 

Mentors or supervisors who support them, provide feedback, and monitor their performance work with interns. 

The amount of work an intern is given depends on their background, abilities, and what the company needs.

Externships are unique. They focus more on observing and picking up tips from the experts. Externs typically don’t have fixed jobs or responsibilities within the company. 

Instead, students observe how the experts work, probe the subject, and pick up new information. Externs may work with professionals who teach them the ropes and describe their jobs.

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  1. Training and Learning Opportunities 

Internships provide structured opportunities to learn and improve in areas relating to your subject of study or professional objectives. They could instruct you through team projects, workshops, or training sessions. 

Furthermore, you may also get a mentor who supports your professional development. Internships typically combine opportunities for practical work experience with professional development.

Externships focus more on observation and learning, although they are still beneficial for education. Externs get to observe professionals in action, learn how business is conducted, and gain first-hand knowledge of the abilities required for success in their chosen fields. 

Externships also allow you to network, learn more through interviews, or add to what you observe by participating in educational programs.

Advantages of Internships vs. Externships

There are several advantages of internships vs. externships. We’ve tabulated the advantages below: 

Benefits Internships Externships
Hands-on ExperienceGain practical, real-world experience.Observe professionals in their daily work.
Career DevelopmentDevelop skills and knowledge for your field.Gain insight into different career paths.
NetworkingBuild professional connections.Connect with industry professionals.
College CreditSome offer college credit.Usually, not for college credit.
Resume BuildingAdd relevant experience to your resume.Gain unique observational experience.
Professional SkillsDevelop various professional skills.Learn by observing professionals.
Industry ExposureIndustry ExposureUnderstand specific company cultures.

Externships focus on networking, learning by observation, and company insights, whereas internships offer hands-on experience and professional development. Depending on your learning preferences and job objectives, each offers its benefits.

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Internship or Externship: Which is Right for You?

The good news is that you don’t have to choose between an externship and an internship. Doing both while in college can increase your chances of landing a job or entering graduate school. 

Each has its benefits. Externships can be particularly helpful if you decide what sector or career path you desire. Although many students complete unpaid internships, they provide you with practical work experience and occasionally even compensation. 

It comes down to what you believe would benefit you the most at the time.

Internship vs. Externship in Different Industries

There are many other industries where internships and externships are available, including business, finance, technology, and more. Here are some industries you can consider: 

  1. Business

Both internships and externships in the business sector offer worthwhile educational opportunities. Interns usually take on extra duties and work on initiatives that benefit the business operations. 

On the other hand, externs take on a more observational role, following professionals to learn how the business is run.

  1. Finance

Internships and externships in the banking industry are highly competitive. Interns frequently have the opportunity to work on complex financial models, analyze data, and offer senior management advice. 

However, externs take on an observational role, following professionals to learn how the business runs. Finance internships and externships range in length, with some lasting many months and others just a few weeks.

  1. Technology

Both internships and externships are highly sought-after positions in the technology sector. Interns frequently design software, work on cutting-edge technology and engage with seasoned professionals. 

However, externs mainly monitor employees and business processes. The length of externships and internships in the technology industry varies, with externships typically lasting a few weeks and internships typically lasting several months.

  1. Law

Externships are more common than internships in the legal profession. Externs can interact with professional attorneys, watch courtroom events, and gain knowledge of the legal system. 

Law internships are less widespread and typically only available to law students. Depending on the school, an externship in the legal field could last a few weeks or an entire semester.


Externships vs. internships are excellent ways to gain practical experience and explore options in particular fields or occupations. Externships focus more on seeing and absorbing knowledge from professionals, while internships are about working and developing professionally. 

By understanding how they differ, you can choose the one that best suits your learning preferences and professional objectives.

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