Externships are experiential learning opportunities, similar to internships, offered by educational institutions to give students short practical experiences in their field of study. In medicine it may refer to a visiting physician who is not part of the regular staff. It is derived from Latin externus and from Old English scipe.

Though the practice of externship dates back to the medieval Bimaristan hospitals, the term externship originated in 1945.

Externships are generally shorter than internships and last for approximately two days to a few weeks. Since they are less extensive, they are not usually given any academic credit. Due to the short duration, externships can be easily completed during a student’s spring and summer breaks or even during a January interim. Externships can be viewed in terms of job shadowing and externs are closely supervised by employee volunteers who agree to walk them through day-to-day routines at the company or organization. The experience allows students to apply their book smarts to a real life setting. Externships offer samples of career possibilities. It is a chance for students to observe and ask questions. They can be viewed as external studies which combine classroom knowledge with real-world experience. This knowledge prepares students for the transition from school to career.

Externships can lead to opportunities after students complete their studies. They can help pre-graduates get their foot in the door for possible job opening or even make them better candidates for aggressive internship opportunities. The goal of an extern is to become familiar with new professions and job fields. Externships are also a source of networking contacts once a profession is chosen.

Externships are not only conducted for the benefit of the extern, but for the host as well. Both parties get a chance to observe one another. Successful externships could lead to recruitment possibilities which would be based on a thoroughly informed decision.

Externships for Educators

Externships can be performed by individuals that are no longer students. They offer a chance for those already working to explore career change options. Educators, including career, technical and academic teachers, can also take advantage of externship opportunities, using them as a chance to experience the other side of the working world. Teachers are able to use this outsider education to convey real-world experience to students. Businesses offer summer externship programs to educators. Businesses benefit from externships because they are able to build relationships with the educators and in turn influence curriculum and teaching methods. These relationships can also help businesses with profitable recruiting as well.


1. Muirhead, Gred. “Student externships aid recruitment.” Supermarket News 29 April 1991: 25.

2. Blassingame, Kelley M. “It’s A Work Out.” Techniques October 1999: 20.

External links

  • http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0IJN/is_2000_Dec/ai_68742422
  • http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa4080/is_200403/ai_n9350239
  • http://career.uark.edu/students/externships.asp
  • http://chronicle.uchicago.edu/030403/externships.shtml
  • http://www.law.umich.edu/curriculum/externshipsandindependentstudy/Pages/default.aspx
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