4 Reasons to Find an Externship

Summer might be over, but a return to campus doesn’t mean you have to put gaining valuable career experience on hold. Harness the energy of the season and find an externship.

As you know, interning is a fantastic way to build your resume, make valuable connections and test out a career field. But there’s only so much time, and interning during the school year isn’t an option for everyone.

Enter the externship. Externships are typically unpaid and don’t offer class credit. Rather than signing on for a summer or semester, externships  involve spending a few days or a week shadowing someone while he/she works.

Why Find an Externship

Here are four great reasons to find an externship:

  1. You can get a lot of experience very quickly: Because of the short time frame, you can do multiple externships over the course of a year to gain exposure to a variety of jobs and companies.
  2. You’ll see different things than you would as an intern: Because you are only with a company for a short time and shadowing one person, you can get a very in-depth look at what a job really entails. With an internship, you are experiencing the company from a very specific position—which is extremely valuable. But, intern managers may not have the time to help you expand your learning beyond the planned internship. With an externship, however, you are there to follow someone else. This affords you the opportunity to see how he functions in his role, attend meetings and sit in on calls.
  3.  You’ll build your network: Externships are an excellent way to keep your career skills sharp during the school year and expand your network. The more people you can connect with in your field, the better.
  4.  You’ll be a more valuable hire: Employers like a go-getter, and showing that you are dedicated to exploring your career options can help set you apart. Companies make a big commitment when they hire a full-time employee. Gaining externship experience is a way to show that you know what you want and have a real understanding of the job.

How to Find an Externship

This is where your networking skills will come in handy. Some companies have externship programs or list opportunities online, but it’s more likely that securing an externship will be a less formal process than finding an internship.

Here are three tips to help you find an externship:

  1. Think about where you have interned: Were there people in the company who had interesting jobs in departments you didn’t work directly with? Connect with your supervisor and ask how you can go about asking that individual for an externship.
  2. Talk to your friends: If you know someone who had an amazing internship experience, ask if you can connect with her supervisor to inquire about externships at the company.
  3. Be bold: Is there a company you’re really interested in? If so, make a cold call or send a LinkedIn message to someone working in your area of interest; you have nothing to lose.
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Jody Michael Associates

Jody Michael is CEO and founder of Jody Michael Associates, a Chicago-based company that specializes in career coaching, executive coaching and organizational consulting. She is a Master Certified Coach, Board Certified Coach, Licensed Clinical Social Worker and University of Chicago-trained psychotherapist with over 15 years of corporate experience in the finance industry and more than 20 years of experience coaching high school and college students, career professionals, teams and organizations. She has been featured on National Public Radio (WBEZ Chicago), MSNBC Primetime, PBS, CNN and Discovery Channel. In addition, she has taught, lectured, given workshops and participated in panel discussions at The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and School of Social Service Administration, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Southern Illinois University and Chicago Public Schools on a wide range of topics including neuroscience, the brain and change, linguistics and accountability, and successful entrepreneurship. Read more from Jody.