Ever wondered what the difference was between a practicum and a co-op? How about an apprenticeship, field experience or service learning? And what exactly is an externship anyways?
Don’t be overwhelmed. Generally speaking, all of the above can be categorized under the umbrella term of “internship” and aim to provide an ‘out of classroom’ experience that complements or adds to one’s studies.
To help get you on your way, here is a brief description of the different types of internships out there:Apprenticeship
No, I’m not talking about the Donald, here. Apprenticeship, probably the earliest form of an internship, is a system developed in the Middle Ages where master craftsmen took in young helpers for cheap labor and trained their charges in return. When I think of apprentices, Michelangelo toiling away as a boy in Ghirlandaio’s workshop in Florence always comes to mind. Apprenticeship is still thriving today, most often in “hands-on” trades such as the culinary arts, carpentry, clothing design, etc.Practicum
Latin for practice (that's 4 years of Latin for ya). Practica
are often undertaken by students in consultation with their academic advisors in order to gain real-world experience for an academic project or major.Cooperative Education (Co-op)
Co-ops usually involve a partnership between a student, an employer and a university and are often taken for academic credit. Many universities are starting to require semester long co-ops with local businesses near campus. Co-ops are great ways for businesses and students alike to ‘test drive’ each other before officially signing on.Field Experience
No, you won’t necessarily find yourself out in some field on this type of internship, but out of all the categories, it’s the most likely as field experience is primarily associated with practical experience in the world of science and sociology. In most cases, interns undertaking ‘field experience’ are observing and collecting data for research purposes.Externship
Not ready to commit to a specific career field just yet? Or maybe you don’t have a whole summer or semester to devote to an internship? An externship is ideal for you. Really just a short internship, externships are often taken during summer or winter breaks from school. My externship in college lasted one week (they usually max out at 3 weeks) and was a great way to shadow an office and get a feel for a typical day on the job. But don’t underestimate the value of this abbreviated experience. I still keep in touch with the office where I ‘externed’ years ago. Make a good impression and treat this as a job. While they may not hire you, they might know someone who will.Service Learning
Just like it sounds, this type of internship involves serving individuals or groups in a local community. For instance, we offer a service learning project in Ecuador where we send groups of high school and college students to work with underprivileged children in Quito, the capital city. Our students also perform service learning projects side-by-side with conservation scientists in the Amazon rainforest – a great way to learn while serving (and preserving!) native plants. This is where service learning and field work meet in the middle. You can learn a lot about yourself while helping others.
No matter what you call it, an internship is an invaluable way to complement your studies, boost your résumé and just plain figure out what you want to do when you grow up.
Most university and college career departments have resources that can help you determine which of the above (and maybe even some not included above) types of internships are best for you. And don’t think you have to just be in school to take part in an internship. In fact, we have helped hundreds of students who have recently graduated and want to get some real world, international experience.
There’s something out there for you and we hope we can help. Be sure to check out “5 Points to Understanding Internships Abroad,”
a helpful article published by IIE Passport and written by our very own Marc Cappelletti
Posted by Mike
Global Experiences provides customized international internships, teaching English abroad certification courses, fashion experiences, high school service learning programs and other unique international experiences.
Labels: apprenticeship, co-op, intern abroad, international internships, internships, practicum, service learning, study abroad