Extern vs. Intern: What’s the Difference?

Building out your experience is one of the best ways to position yourself for a job after graduation or a career change. Your candidacy will be stronger the more experience you have. Externships and internships give you the chance to expand your skill set, investigate new career options, learn about the business world, and accumulate professional work experience for your resume.

Differences of Externship and Internship Pending

What is an internship?

Young professionals can gain experience by working on projects related to a career that interests them through an internship program. During an internship in editing, for example, some interns read, review, and edit copy as part of their duties. However, compared to employed professionals, interns frequently have fewer responsibilities. Instead of being responsible for working on a team and collaborating with them, interns may report to a senior employee who reviews, critiques, and offers advice on how to improve their work.

However, some interns gain experience by carrying out tasks at their workplace of choice, even if those tasks are unrelated to the regular tasks of their industry. For instance, some interns carry out assistant responsibilities, assisting their designated professional or office by going to the post office on their behalf, answering phones, and carrying out office tasks like making copies and assisting with paperwork. Many interns perform a combination of professional and assistant duties.

What is an externship?

An externship is a program that enables a person to gain knowledge and experience in a field of work that interests them. Externs typically work alongside a professional in their field to observe their regular tasks and gain an understanding of what a particular position entails.

Following an established professional, a practice known as “shadowing,” enables an extern to make inquiries, take notes, and determine whether the career they are considering is right for them based on first-hand experience. Externs rarely perform actual job tasks while they are shadowing; instead, they simply observe a professional.

Differences between externships and internships

Externships and internships both assist those interested in particular professions in gaining experience, but they differ in a number of important ways. Consider the following distinctions when deciding whether to pursue an internship or an externship:


Although some interns get paid and some don’t, most externs never get paid while they’re observing professionals in their target industry. This is due to the fact that externs typically only observe rather than perform any job duties and have few responsibilities. Both receive compensation in the form of experience and learning.

Program length

Externships are brief because externs only observe the professional they are shadowing. An externship typically lasts between one day and two weeks, though some may be a little longer. Internships frequently last longer than externships because they involve on-the-job training. The duration of an internship program can range from one month to one year.

Class credit

Internships can help students earn credit toward their degree. In some cases, completing an internship may be necessary to earn your degree. You typically cannot receive credit for completing this kind of program because an externship only requires minimal participation.


The function that interns and externs play in the workplace is another significant distinction. An intern completes tasks and contributes to team projects. They may also perform assistive tasks to support a team. However, an extern does not perform any work; they merely observe and record. Due to the fact that their externship program only involves shadowing one professional, externs may also not interact with as many colleagues as an intern.


Because externships are typically shorter in duration, they can often be more flexible. Because they frequently take less than a month to finish, many students finish them during breaks from their studies. This can assist students in concentrating their efforts on their academic work all year long.

Although many programs take your class schedule into consideration when hiring interns, since internships are frequently longer in duration, it may be necessary to work while also attending classes.

Level of education

Early on in their educational journey, externships assist students in determining whether a career path is appropriate for them. While still in school, students can decide whether their chosen profession is right for them by observing a professional in the field. This also gives them the chance to switch their major if they so choose.

Internships frequently concentrate on advancing students’ academic careers, earning college credits for graduation, and preparing them for finding a job after graduation. Employers require interns to have a few years of education because they are expected to perform job duties.

How to find a program

Although an externship and an internship differ, the procedure for finding a job is similar. Here are some ways to find a program:

1. Visit the college career center

When you’re prepared to gain practical experience, inquire about opportunities at your school’s career center. If your college lacks a career center, you can meet with professors or your advisor to ask for assistance in locating an internship or an externship. These experts might be connected to the industry or have knowledge of where to look for these programs.

2. Attend networking events

3. Search job boards and sites

Online job listings for either type of program are also available. To see if any positions are posted, perform a search on job boards and websites or go to company websites. Employers are less likely to advertise an externship, but if you come across a business that is hiring interns, you might want to inquire about becoming an extern if you don’t have enough time or the necessary qualifications to be an intern.

Frequently asked questions about externships vs. internships

Review the following frequently asked questions about interning or working as an extern to get the answers you need and to gain more understanding so you can choose the program that’s right for you:

When should you pursue a externship?

Finding an externship during your first or second year of college is a smart move. You can make career plans by watching a professional in the field you want to work in, but you can also find out if you’d like to work in that particular industry by doing so. Being an extern only requires you to observe, so you can start doing this before you have a lot of knowledge or experience.

When should you look for an internship?

Finding an internship program before earning an undergraduate degree and after two or more years of study is a good idea. After just one year of study for an associate’s degree, you might be qualified for an internship. It is a good idea to look for an internship before graduating so you can add relevant experience to your resume when applying for jobs, even though some degrees may require completion of an internship while others may not.

How can you include an externship or internship on a resume?

Your job responsibilities as an intern can be listed on your resume. If you complete an externship, you might be able to list things like going to staff meetings and studying sales materials as activities that help you learn more about the business.

What do you do as an extern?

As an extern, your only responsibilities might be observational ones and learning-related tasks. Interviewing staff members, for instance, can help you learn more about their careers and job responsibilities. Externs may also take a tour of the office, watch work being done, attend meetings, and read or view content that the company produces.

What are intern duties?


What is the difference between extern and intern?

An internship is a paid or voluntary position with an organization for someone who is learning a profession, whereas an externship is typically an unpaid experience in which the intern will observe daily tasks performed by a respected industry professional.

Are Externships the same as internship?

Externships and internships are short-term professional learning experiences. Interns complete tasks or projects, and most internships are paid. Externs shadow a seasoned professional to gain more insight into their duties. Your career in a new field may be launched by either of these opportunities.

What does an extern do?

The majority of the time, externs work primarily on small projects while job shadowing. Externships offer students the exceptional chance to apply what they have learned in a real-world workplace and give them a chance to decide if the field they are interested in is a good fit.

What is an externship position?

A brief, unpaid internship called an externship gives students a taste of what it’s like to work for a company for anywhere between one day and several weeks. The word externship is a hybrid of “experience” and “internship”.

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