Externships are short-term opportunities for students to learn more about a particular occupation without having to commit to it for a long period of time. They are not paid and do not give academic credit. Internships, on the other hand, are longer term, may or may not be paid or provide academic credit. In an externship, you have the opportunity to interview a professional in a career field that interests you.
The externship interview is your chance to get your questions answered about the job you want. The professional you shadow during your externship will be available to answer questions about everything from what he likes about the job to offering advice on the right educational path to getting a specific job in his field. Write down a series of questions you want to ask during your informational interview that relate specifically to the job and career field.
Ask questions about the job, such as “How did you get started in this field?”; “What do you like about it?”; “What is the most challenging aspect of the job?”; “What is the salary range for this position?” and “What is a typical day like?” You can ask questions about schedule, organizational hierarchy and typical benefits as well. Your questions can also be about the company the person works for. These types of questions will help to give you a good picture of the job.
Avoid overloading the person you interview with too many questions. Twelve questions should be your limit. Even if you have a full day or two with the person, ensure that you give him enough time to fully answer your questions before you ask the next one. Spend time watching what his job is like and how he and co-workers interact. Listening and watching can give you a good feeling for whether you would like his job.
You may sit in an office and ask questions, or you may be following the person around, asking questions as you both walk. Greet each person you meet pleasantly during your time with the person you shadow. Look the person you are talking or listening to in the eye during your conversation. Smile and nod when she speaks to indicate you are listening, and repeat back what you hear her say if you are confused and need clarification.