What is an Externship?

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At Southern Careers Institute, an externship is required in several of the training programs. But, what exactly is an externship?

Some people have an idea of the kind of work they would like to spend their lives doing and others have no clue. It’s hard to know what a career is really like unless you have some type of first-hand knowledge of what the job entails.

For example, you might feel drawn to working with children, but then when it becomes your responsibility to keep small minds occupied all day long, you may find that you are not as suited to it as you thought you would be.

This is where an externship can help.

What is an Extern?

An extern is someone who shadows or follows an individual or group of professionals at a workplace for the purpose of learning a job or what is it like to actually hold that position. Externs work in all types of businesses, including medical offices and pharmacies, to get a feel for the work itself. 

Someone who is interested in working as a pharmacy technician is required to first serve as an extern in an operating pharmacy. There, future technicians get the feel for the work pace and how pharmacists, technicians, and other staff work as a team to complete their jobs.

Externs do not get paid, and they may or may not have regular job duties. They are there to observe those who actually do the kind of job they are interested in pursuing. Through these opportunities, students can learn if they have the temperament to do a particular kind of work.


What is an Externship Program?

Some educational institutions offer an externship program as training in concert with private businesses.  The purpose of externships is to give students on-the-job experience.

These unpaid, short-term positions familiarize externs with what goes on in the workplace through watching and learning more than doing. Externships may last anywhere from a single day to several weeks. In a sense, this type of program turns a business setting into a classroom. 

Externship programs offer a valuable opportunity for students to gain insight. And they also give them a chance to network with companies and individuals they may want to work with in the future.  

Difference Between Extern and Intern

The main difference between an extern and an intern is that an externship usually takes place while a student is still in school. An internship happens after training is complete, but before the student officially becomes a full-time employee.

Externs are unpaid whereas interns are usually compensated. Furthermore, the extern may spend more time watching and asking questions. The intern is more of an apprentice who does the actual work.

While the intern will not earn as much as a full-time employee, he or she may have specific work assigned or work as part of a team on a project.

You can use an externship to explore a career field or gain knowledge before actually entering the workforce. On the other hand, you can use an internship as a bridge between schooling and full-time employment.

How to Get an Externship

There are various ways to get an externship. For example, you can ask businesses you might like to work for to find out if it is possible to shadow someone at the company. This method may be a bit hard to do especially for those who have no prior contacts, but it is possible. You can’t know unless you ask, but you may be faced with a lot of competition for few availabilities.

The better way to obtain an externship is to enroll in a training program that has an externship program as part of the curriculum. Southern Careers Institute has an externship program to benefit students who are enrolled in the medical assistant, pharmacy technician, administrative assistant, business administration, business accounting specialist, medical billing and coding specialist, and medical office specialist programs.   

Externship Opportunities After Training

Externship opportunities at Southern Careers Institute are available during the final term of affected programs after all the required coursework has been completed.

You should complete classes for externships at a rate of 40 hours per week. Students gain between 2–5.5 credits per externship, depending on the program.

These are the total hours necessary for each of our externships:

  • Administrative Assistant– 90 hours
  • Medical Assistant– 178 hours   
  • Business Accounting Specialist– 86 hours                                    
  • Medical Billing and Coding– 146 hours   
  • Business Administration– 80 hours
  • Medical Office Specialist– 130 hours
  • Pharmacy Technician– 168 hours

Externship sites expect you to complete hours during the day. However, these hours do not have to be during regular business hours. They may require distant travel, various shifts, or weekend work.

Students enrolled in the business administration program may enroll in the externship program or take a business seminar, but not both.  

To be eligible for an externship in a retail or hospital pharmacy, students enrolled in the pharmacy technician program must first register with the Texas State Board of Pharmacy as a Pharmacy Technician Trainee.

Registration requires a fingerprint session to be completed through an approved company. Because this analysis can take four to six months to complete, students must begin the process of trainee registration during their first term of enrollment.

You deserve the freedom to find meaningful work. If you are ready for a career with purpose and meaning, contact the admissions department at Southern Careers Institute today for more information about training programs that offer externships. 


  • https://keydifferences.com/difference-between-internship-and-externship.html
  • https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm
  • https://www.pharmacy.texas.gov/
  • https://www.pharmacy.texas.gov/applicants/fingerprints.asp


Blog Disclaimer: Information stated in this blog is for general information purposes only. SCItexas.edu does not assume or guarantee income earning potential or salary expectations based on the programs offered at Southern Careers Institute. Career and program information stated in this blog does not guarantee that programs and specifics are offered at Southern Careers Institute.

This article was published on: 05/26/20 8:30 AM

GI Bill® is a registered trademark of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). More information about education benefits offered by VA is available at the official U.S. government Web site at http://www.benefits.va.gov/gibill.

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