Part of your training at the Computer Systems Institute is gaining real-world experience with an externship. Some students may be nervous and feel like they aren’t the strongest candidate or have enough experience to fulfill these positions. The fact is that externships are an excellent way for you to gain more confidence and experience in your chosen field of interest, and many employers are looking for people who need that experience. 

First, let’s be clear on what we mean by an externship here. The word “externship” is formed from joining together the words “experience” and “internship.” It’s your chance to gain real hands-on practical work experience to help further develop your career.  

How to Get an Externship – The Right Mindset 

The first thing you need to do is to set aside any belief that you are either not ready or not capable of getting this externship. It’s easy to think that you’re too inexperienced or not good enough and that no one will want to hire you. That’s simply not true. 

Instead, shift your mindset to a more positive one and focus on your willingness to learn and your enthusiasm to help in any way you can. That kind of energy will show through as you take steps to get your first externship and make employers more receptive to hiring you. 

Remember that as an “extern,” your primary focus will be on gaining experience and knowledge by seeing real-world scenarios of how organizations operate. Therefore, you don’t need to worry  about having prior experience because the whole point of the externship is to give you the expertise and insight to help you get started in your new career. So, take the pressure off yourself and calm your nerves.  

How to Get an Externship at your School 

Once you are in the right mindset, it’s time to start exploring the channels available to you. Start with asking your advisors about opportunities in the area. It could come as part of an existing arrangement between CSI and local companies and other organizations, or it could be one that an individual teacher or advisor knows about and can recommend to you. Keep all of your options open. If possible, ask your advisor to introduce you to people who may know of externship opportunities. 

Networking to Create Possibilities  

When business events come to your areas, such as conferences or conventions, try to attend and see what connections you can make. There may be smaller gatherings like local business networking events,  allowing you to meet new people.  

Consider creating a personal business card or digital equivalent on your smartphone that you can share. A simple card with your name, email, and phone number will suffice. Get your name and interest out there and let businesses know that you are looking for externship opportunities. They may contact you when opportunities arise where you’d be a good fit. Or they may invite you to participate in other activities and events where you can meet even more people. The more you network, the larger your circle of possibilities. 

You can typically find online calendars for events in your area. Check sites like MeetUp or Eventbrite. 

Community Events for More Local Connections 

Other options to meet professional connections are local community events from organizations such as the chamber of commerce or non-profits. You may get to know someone from one organization, such as the local Rotary Club or Toastmasters, who might know someone who happens to be searching for externs. The connections you make may help you now, or they may help you down the road. Don’t give up on making connections if there isn’t an immediate result. You want to foster these relationships as they can bring you many benefits in the long run. 

Remember, an externship is just one step of your learning experience. You may even find that you’ll opt for more than one during your studies. All connections can be a great resource either now or in the future. 

If you don’t make that initial connection, though, you’ll never know for sure!  

An Externship can Start You on the Path to Success 

Don’t fall for the false belief that you’re not good enough or ready for an externship. You are absolutely worthy. When your advisors or instructors recommend you begin the process, do everything you can to get that experience. Even an externship that completes in a single day, or a week, can give you  a fantastic amount of insight into a career in which you are interested. Put in the effort now, and the rewards will come soon enough. 

If you’d like to know more about the type of externships that are part of CSI’s programs, contact us for more information.