Externships are experiential learning opportunities, similar to internships, offered by educational institutions to give students short practical experiences in their field of study. Unlike an internship which may last for an extended period of time, an externship will consist of one to two short shifts at an establishment in their related field of study, so that the student can get a feel for that work environment.
Although, as an extern in a salon as an un-licensed individual you are not legally allowed to have physical contact with the guest or perform services on them. You may however, assist the stylist, help with salon tasks or just step back and observe the day-to-day workings of that salon environment, and each salon you extern at will be a very different experience.
Having an externing experience is extremely beneficial as a cosmetology student because not all salons work the same, your individual needs vary from stylist to stylist and getting exposure to potential jobs is a very unique opportunity.
This knowledge prepares students for the transition from school to career, as a student hands on experience can be hard to get, this can make the difference in getting the job you want and setting for any job you can get.
Externships are also a great source for networking, meeting new people as well as mentors in your field are great ways to kick start a successful career; and may even lead to job recruitment.
I have personally had the opportunity to extern at multiple salons and the experience was highly beneficial, I have a wonderful job set to start right after graduation and couldn’t be more pleased with my choice.