What Is And How To Find An Externship?

Juliet D'cruz

Updated on:


In this article we will give you a brief explanation about externships so you can quickly understand if that’s a good path for your professional career preparation. During the article we will talk about:

  1. What is an Externship?
  2. What Happens During An Externship?
  3. How can you get an externship?

What is an Externship?

An externship refers to a training program or training that students undertake to get hands-on experience. Like an apprenticeship program, an externship gives learners an opportunity to shadow and learn from experienced employees over a short time, in most cases a few days to a week. Check all you need to know about externship in this article.

Due to their short duration, externships are highly unpaid, and the learners don’t receive extensive training that they would receive during an internship.

The primary purpose of an externship is to expose students to a real-life situation of their chosen field. For instance, a student pursuing software engineering would spend their day understanding the day-to-day program of a software engineer.

Similarly, a student pursuing a course in medicine would spend the day observing a practicing medic like a doctor or a nurse to get a feel of their day-to-day operations.


What Happens During An Externship?

 An externship can take different forms depending on two factors;

  1. Your level of knowledge, experience, or qualification. 

For instance, a first-year student in engineering and a final-year student in engineering will be assigned different tasks since their understanding of the engineering field are different. The first year will probably follow a practicing engineer to observe the task, but a final year might help with measuring, modeling, guiding, or recommending.

  1. The organization offering the externship:

Most established organizations have an established program for students extending in their organization. For instance, if you went to a hospital for a one-week externship, you might spend the first day being introduced. 

On the second day, you follow the physicians during their rounds and ask questions. 

On the third day, you might be requested to hand over some syringes, medicine, or files to the physicians as they go for the rounds. 

By the end of the week, you might be required to prepare patient files. Thus, the program starts with a simple task, and as you continue to gain exposure and experience, you graduate to more complex tasks. 

However, being short duration, you might never handle complicated tasks that require months to master. In small organizations without an established program, your schedule will depend on the agenda of the practicing practitioner.

Thus, externships vary depending on several factors like your course, area of specialization, experience level, and the organization where you are undertaking the externship.

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How can you get an externship?

There are various opportunities to get an externship, depending on your university. The common ways include:

  • University of college career department and placement. Most universities have external linkage with leading organizations that enable their students to get internships.
  • Networking relationship: using professional networks like LinkedIn, you can network with potential employers.
  • Professional organization: For instance, if you are a medical student, join the local professional network and start networking with professionals in your field.

After understanding the main intricacies of externships, now it’s time to get out there and search for yours. Preparing yourself to the competitive professional world is key for a successful career.