Not every business has the resources and ability to field a formal internship program, but every business should be considering their opportunities to build a strong workforce tomorrow and expose students and potential future employees to the work they do. Below, various options for program design are highlighted that can facilitate involvement for business of any size and industry. Keep in mind that things like experienceships may be opened to high school students and a valuable tool for career technical education (CTE).


Internships are the traditional programs offered by employers to provide students or graduates hands-on training and career building opportunities. Both paid and unpaid, they are key to professional development and connecting businesses to their future workforce base. It is important to remember that certain federal regulations apply to internships in “for-profit” private sector businesses. For specific information on these federal rules, please visit


An externship is a short-term, brief exposure program to an employment industry that often replicates a “job shadow” experience. It provides a prime opportunity for students to gain exposure to a specific type of company or occupation without a long-term commitment. For a student, an externship can include networking opportunities or exploration of the day-to-day duties of a field they are curious about. Externships can also be held for educators and/or parents who are helping to prepare students for careers in specific industries. For instance, a business that does information technology may want to highlight specific soft-skills that have been difficult to identify in their current job candidates and offer suggestions to professors about ways to modify coursework to produce more qualified graduates.


The newest, and least demanding, of an employer’s options to give back to the future workforce. Experienceships are exactly what they sound like: a business providing the experience of their employment. This comprises a wide array of activities for business including job-shadowing, visits to a work-site or other, more innovative immersion programming. If a business is considering this option, they are encouraged to great creative. There is no wrong way to provide the valuable exposure to careers to students and graduates that will one day lead our business community!

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