Internships, Fellowships and Externships

By: Allilsa Fernandez

This overview will focus on Internships and Fellowships.

  • Internships – It’s an opportunity to gain experience on the job.
  • Fellowship – When you are developing your career a fellowship helps you focus on your career goals.
  • Externship – When you shadow a professional with an academic or teaching goal.

How do you decide between an Internship or Fellowship?
Internships – It’s when you don’t know yet exactly what you want to do in life or what career path you want to take. For example, you are not sure where you want to work in immigration law, so you take a legal intern position so that you can get exposed to paralegal work, lawyer’s work, and senior lawyer’s work (to name a few).

Fellowship – It’s when you know what your career goals are and you want to gain experience in these career goals. For example, you know you want to focus on disability policies. You can take a fellowship that specifically teaches you on how to research policies, write policies surround the disability subject, write bills on disability, and more. It focuses entirely on disability policies.

Are these positions paid or unpaid?
Internships can be paid or unpaid. Many internships are unpaid but you can obtain college credits. You will need to check with your college and internship company to see if the college will accept the credits. However most Fellowships have some type of compensation to them such as a paid position or a stipend for housing and transportation or either of those of those two mentioned.

Another benefit of an unpaid internship is that you can obtain employment. Many companies like to hire from within. For example, I once interned for a company and within a
month they offered me a paid position.

Are Internships and Fellowships flexible?
Fellowship tend to be less flexible as they usually have a set schedule, while internships can be more flexible, depending on the company.

What are some ways that I can obtain an internship or fellowship?
Some ways to obtain a position are:

  1. Researching the company
  2. Speaking to career counselors
  3. Network with friends, alumni and people you volunteer with.

What are some factors to consider before applying?
Some factors to consider before applying for an internship or a fellowship are:

  1. Look at the companies reviews online by past employees. What do they have to say about the workplace and working conditions?
  2. Research the companies. Don’t just do a simple google search of the companies name but rather enter the companies name and things you may not want to experience such as racism, homophobia, or lack of accessibility. For example: Company’s name racist. If there have been any incidents in the
    past it will most likely show up. Another example is ‘company’s name homophobic’.

What do you do if you don’t feel comfortable or safe in your workplace?
What do you do if you feel unsafe, are facing a discrimination such as racism or lack of accessibility?. You follow the ladder of commands. Every job has it. It will tell you where to
file a complaint and work your way up to the CEO. If this doesn’t work, it’s okay to leave the position. You don’t have to remain in a place that you don’t feel safe.

Last important comment:
Whether is an internship or a fellowship, you should be able to learn and grow. If you took up a position but your job has you doing something else, you may need to speak to your job about
your position or consider leaving the company. If you applied for Disability Policies, for example, you shouldn’t only be serving coffee, shredding paper, and answering phones. This should be an
opportunity to gain experience and grow.

Remember, you may be inexperienced but you have skills. Everyone has skills. Look for a company that values what you will bring to the table.