How Externships are Experiential Learning Opportunities Necessary for Students

Eller PDC Coordinator Student Stories

By: Perry Hutchison

For starters, what is an Externship? An externship is a shorter version of an internship. Externships typically are unpaid and the student can’t receive school credit for the experience. Externships last anywhere from an hour to 8 weeks while Internships typically last longer than 8 weeks and are paid. Job shadowing an individual in an industry or workplace of interest is an example of an externship. It provides you exposure to the workforce, culture, and job. Rather than a hands-on approach that an Internship may offer, Externships offer observational and exploratory experience.

Externships help students investigate possible career paths by providing small but useful exposure to specific industries. The Eller College of Management: Professional Development Center provides undergraduate students with endless opportunities over winter break to shadow Eller alumni in different fields. Last winter break I had the opportunity to explore a career in digital advertising and social media with Audacious Studios based out of Tempe, Arizona. My shadow host, Chase McLaughlin, is an Eller grad and currently an Account Manager for SiteWire. My shadow experience allowed me to explore his day to day career in Web Development and Social Media. I watched him negotiate client and vendor contracts while managing a team to complete the project expectations per client, observed how the team creates social media schedules, and learned about the algorithms behind paid media, along with much more. Chase answered all of my questions and helped me assess if this is the right career path for me. Not only was this great exposure to an advertising and web agency it also gave me the opportunity to expand my circle of professional contacts in this industry.

Overall takeaways from an Externship:

  • Out of your classroom lessons
  • Get the work experience hiring managers want
  • Continue exploring careers
  • Asses your “fit” for an organization
  • Meet with professionals
  • Find a job

After my day with Audacious Studios I could truly see myself thriving in that career. There are many reasons to consider participating in an externship, but perhaps none is more worthwhile than knowing that having exposure in many areas will bring you one step closer to your future.  Externships are all about networking and utilizing platforms such as LinkedIn. Reaching out to professionals in your career of interest is the first step in landing an externship with their company. At the end of the day, all majors can utilize this experiential learning opportunity.