Difference Between Internship and Externship

Internships and externships are both on-the-job training programs for students in high school, college, and, in some cases, other professionals.

They are comparable to apprenticeship programs in the sense that they are designed to teach someone a skill or trade.

Internships and externships are short-term engagements that offer college students work experience in their desired career field. After the internship or externship, the student returns to college to finish his or her degree. 

Internships and externships are practically interchangeable terms. They both place students in professional environments where they can gain valuable insight into what to expect in their chosen field.

However, there are several key distinctions between the two. 

Internship vs Externship 

The main difference between internship and externship is that an internship helps you gain skills and experiences and is either paid, unpaid, or partially whereas in an externship, you get an overview of the career you are interested in, and it is almost always unpaid. An internship is also longer in duration in comparison to an externship. 

Internship vs Externship

Internships provide students with the opportunity to work in areas of interest while earning money and receiving recommendations for future opportunities. Internships provide a sense of accomplishment and reward for having done something unique. They usually last for a longer period of time, commonly for a whole semester or summer. 

An externship provides students with the chance to engage in practice-based learning in a specific sector of interest. It is, in its most basic form, the ability for students to shadow a more experienced professional in the industry that the student wishes to pursue. Externships are substantially shorter in duration than internships. 

Comparison Table Between Internship and Externship

Parameters of Comparison Internship Externship 
Uses You gain skills and experience You get an overview of a career. 
Purpose You work with a team. You get to observe a workplace. 
Duration Either a semester program or a summer program. It’s a short-term experience lasting days or weeks. 
Credits It may or may not be credit-bearing. Mostly not for credit. 
Pay It can either be paid for or not be paid. It is mostly unpaid. 
Learning You learn by helping others in their job. You learn by observing others. 

What is Internship? 

Internships persist for a long time and are approved by the institution for academic credit.

Some firms, much to the joy of students, offer paid internships, paying out allowances to promote morale and increase the likelihood of students working there in the future. Internships can also be a win-win situation for companies because they provide free or low-cost trained labor. 

Internships are normally paid. However, 48 percent of students in short-term programs are unpaid. Interns should be paid at least the federal minimum wage if they are compensated.

It is worth noting that paid internships usually correlate to increased odds of landing a job, and paid interns typically earn higher incomes following graduation than their unpaid peers or those with no work experience. 

In addition, internships are available to high school students who want to obtain experience or expertise in a topic of interest.

Internships are a win-win situation for both interns and companies since an intern may gain real-world practical experience while a company can teach a potential employee without investing a lot of money. 

Paid, unpaid, or partially paid internship programs are available. Internships are prevalent in industries such as agriculture, medicine, law, engineering, advertising, technology, and business, to name a few.

Internships with government or non-profit groups are typically unpaid.  

What is Externship? 

Job shadowing one individual, often a respected professional within an area or business that a student is interested in pursuing is the most basic description of an externship.

Externships are often held for a short amount of time, ranging from a single day to eight weeks, and are frequently held during a student’s winter or spring break, whereas internships are normally eight weeks long at a minimum. 

An externship is comparable to a job shadowing program in that it is more practical than an internship and often lasts a shorter amount of time. 

An externship can last anywhere from a single day to a couple of weeks at most, whereas an internship is normally eight weeks at the very least and can continue much longer in some disciplines. 

Externships have nearly always been unpaid. However, firms do pay allowances to externs in unusual cases. This program is intended to offer students a taste of their future occupations, and they don’t usually last that long. Therefore the chances of getting paid are reduced.  

An externship often lasts a few days or a couple of weeks, and there are very few opportunities for an extern to undertake real work during that time. Externships are typically unpaid and are not accepted for academic credit toward a degree. An externship is beneficial for gaining further knowledge about the work. 

Main Differences Between Internship and Externship 

  1. An internship helps you gain skills and experience, whereas an externship helps you get an overview of a career. 
  2. In internships, you work with a purpose. In externships, you get to observe the workplace. 
  3. An internship is either a semester or summer program, whereas an externship is short-term, lasting only days or weeks. 
  4. You may earn credits for internships, but you don’t earn credits for externships. 
  5. An internship can be paid, unpaid, or partially paid, while an externship is usually unpaid. 
  6. In an internship, you learn by helping others in their jobs. On the other hand, in an externship, you learn by observing others do their jobs. 
Difference Between Internship and


An internship is a work experience program that provides newcomers with on-the-job training in a certain field; these programs often last several weeks to a few months.

An externship is more practical, normally lasts less time, and is sometimes similar to a job shadowing program. In the United States, each type of program can be paid or unpaid, and some are linked to college credits while others are not.

The two names are sometimes used interchangeably, which means that the program types might be extremely similar or highly different depending on the sector and college/university. 

Externships are comparable to internships but with a few differences.

An extern, unlike an intern, will not gain hands-on job experience but will learn everything through observing other employees at work. As a result, many students choose internships over externships.

Furthermore, the duration of an externship is shorter than that of an internship. 


  1. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1523422318814487 
  2. https://heinonline.org/hol-cgi-bin/get_pdf.cgi?handle=hein.journals/ublr44&section=6 
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