Creating Opportunities Through Internships and Externships

Lifelete Fundamental

July 7, 2015

Although unpaid, internships and externships are no longer viewed simply as an opportunity for college students willing to “pay their dues” in an effort to break into a particular industry after receiving their degree. Both college students and business professionals are able to see the long-term value of the first-hand professional knowledge and connections these opportunities provide. After completing an externship with the Arizona State University Athletic Department and an internship with CBRE, a California-based commercial real estate company, former NFL Pro-Bowl Kicker, Billy Cundiff, offers the following:


“It’s tough to get “real-world” job experience and be an athlete. However, an internship/externship is a great way to bridge the gap and get a look into a possible career path. The qualities that allow athletes to be successful on the field: hard work, discipline, dealing with adversity, teamwork, and adapting to new environments quickly, will serve them well in their next career. The hardest part is picking what career to pursue. Seeing first-hand what someone does on a daily basis at their job will let you know if that career will be a good fit.”


Forbes Staff Writer, Jacquelyn Smith outlines the differences between internships and externships and their value at the college and professional level:

  • Internships typically last four or more weeks, whereas externships range from two days to two weeks, on average.
  • Externships are an intensive job shadowing opportunity involving a lot of observation; an internship is generally more hands-on and requires the student to take on more responsibilities.
  • An internship can involve academic credit and can be paid or unpaid.

In 2013, Lafayette College surveyed students and hosts regarding their externship program. Of those students who completed the survey, 100% stated that they would recommend the externship program to other students. Moreover, 99% reported that their externship helped them to clarify their career goals. As for the hosts, 93% said that they would participate again.

In 1996, Bain, the Boston-based global management consulting firm, pioneered its global externship program to attract, motivate and retain top performers. The program provides exposure to alternative career paths and allows employees to test a passion for an industry, function or social cause. Since 2011, more than 200 Bain employees globally have participated in externships, with Bain executives reporting, “We’ve also found that many of our employees participate in externships to enhance their candidacy for business school, as well as expand their professional network beyond Bain & Company.”


Whether or not a company has an established externship program in place, employers recognize the value of externships in recruiting highly talented individuals. Consult with your AthLife Advisor to develop an externship proposal to create an opportunity to get in the door with the right company.