Similar to an apprenticeship or internship, an externship is typically a training program offered by educational institutions and private businesses that give students brief practical experiences in their field of study.
“It’s [usually] a short-term, unpaid ‘shadowing’ experience,” says Melissa
Schultz, an associate director in Career Services at Lafayette
“The purpose of the externship is to gain first-hand insight into a career or
industry of interest. Strictly a job shadowing program in the past, over the
last few years we have added hosts in graduate and professional school, so that
students can gain first-hand insight into these types of paths as well. For the
host, the externship program provides an opportunity to support students, by
sharing their time and talent. In many cases, through serving as hosts, alumni
are able to ‘pay forward’ the support they received from other alumni during
their time as a student.” She says some first-year students are familiar with the job shadow or
externship concept through experiences they’ve had in high school–however, “this
is a new concept for the majority of incoming students.”
Tiffany Kurzawa, an assistant director at the Center for Career
Development at Gettysburg
College, says the definition of an externship often varies by institution or
organization. “If I had to speak generally, I would say that an externship is
considered an opportunity for students to gain insight and knowledge in a
particular career field of interest. Externships are valuable career learning
experiences in that they provide the opportunity for students to see first-hand
what the day-to-day work activities and responsibilities are in various
professions and industries.” Kurzawa also believes that a majority of incoming
freshman have never heard of an externship.
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