Key differences between internships, apprenticeships, work-study and part-time jobs
January 07, 2020
Add some on-the-job experience to your education and you are positioning yourself for a successful career.
After all, most employers want to know that you have both classroom education and hands-on experience, no matter what career field you’ve chosen – whether it’s a technical or building trade, an art or craftsman skill, or a business field.
To get that hands-on experience while you are in school, you'll need to seek an internship, apprenticeship, or part-time job. While there are many similarities among those three options, there are some key differences. Which one you should seek will depend on you – your chosen career field and what you hope to accomplish with the work experience.
Internships are typically short-term jobs in which, in most cases, students will get academic credit and get paid. Many postsecondary schools will work students to help arrange these internships and to make sure they align well with the student’s academic program. Internships provide students an opportunity to get valuable work experience and to make important contacts in their chosen career field.
Apprenticeships are usually longer-term assignments with a specific goal in mind. For example, a student may need to work alongside a more experienced worker before being certified to work in the career field. This is often a requirement of the specific skills in some of the building trades – such as electrical or welding. The work experience you gain is usually a requirement of your chosen career field. Apprenticeships are also a great way to make important connections for a full-time job.
Federal work-study is a financial aid program offered by the U.S. Department of Education to students who have demonstrated financial need to attend postsecondary education. The jobs are no more than 20 hours a week and are usually jobs on a campus. The jobs may or may not align with a student’s chosen career field but allow a student an opportunity to earn money to help pay for tuition or living expenses. These jobs are another great way for students to get work experience and make important contacts even if the job isn’t in their career field.
Part-time jobs are another great way to get work experience but may or may not contribute to a student’s experience in their chosen career field. If you choose to work part-time while going to school, make sure to keep your hours manageable to allow time for academic studies. It is recommended that students not work more than 20 hours per week while attending classes.
Work experience will be an important part of your academic studies, no matter what type of postsecondary education you pursue. Make sure you choose the type of work that aligns well and fulfills any requirements of your academic program and chosen career field.