Difference Between Internship and Externship

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


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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 their 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 critical distinctions between the two. 

Key Takeaways

  1. Internships are structured work experiences in a professional setting, whereas externships offer short-term shadowing opportunities for students to observe professionals in a specific field.
  2. Internships may be paid or unpaid and can last several months, while externships are generally unpaid and shorter, often lasting only a few days or weeks.
  3. Internships typically involve hands-on work and may lead to job offers, whereas externships focus on observation and networking.

Internship vs Externship 

An internship is a professional learning experience that offers meaningful, practical work related to a student’s field of study or career interest. An externship is a short, unpaid, and informal internship where students spend anywhere from a single day to a few weeks getting exposure to what it’s like to work at a company. 

Internship vs Externship

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Internships allow students to work in areas of interest while earning money and receiving recommendations for future opportunities. Internships offer a sense of accomplishment and reward for having done something unique. They usually last for a more extended period, commonly for a whole semester or summer. 

An externship allows students to engage in practice-based learning in a specific sector of interest. In its most basic form, it is 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

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. It can either be paid for or not be spent. 
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 an 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 labour. 

Internships are typically paid. However, 48 per cent 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. 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 interns and companies since an intern may gain real-world practical experience. In contrast, 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 usually are 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 time. 

An externship can last anywhere from a single day to a couple of weeks at most, whereas an internship usually is 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, which 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. Internships are typically unpaid and are not accepted for academic credit toward a degree. An internship 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 lets 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, 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


  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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