Career Services
A Job Today, A Career Tomorrow

Students » Gaining Experience

Making the decision to gain the right kind of work experience while attending college can be overwhelming.  Career Services can assist in providing you with information on internships, part-time employment opportunities, and necessary information to stay competitive in the global marketplace.


What is an Externship?
An externship or job shadowing experience is an opportunity for a student to engage in practice based learning by actively participating in a field of interest. It is very similar to an internship but is generally of a very short duration. Externships and job shadowing experiences are generally not done for academic credit and such experiences are unpaid.

Externship/Job Shadowing Program Participator
Students who participate in the Externship/Job Shadowing Program are able to receive a firsthand look at the workplace in a career of their choice, make valuable networking contacts and have the opportunity to see how classroom learning can be applied to real world situations.

In an externship, the student typically trails an experience member of an organization or company while he or she performs daily tasks. The externship gives the student a taste of a potential career. The primary goal of this program is to provide students with a structured, hands-on opportunity to experience the “world of work,” without the longer term commitment of an internship or job.

Through exposure to a work setting, students can learn more about job requirements, employer expectations, and professionalism. Students also benefit by finding out more about current and future internship and job openings.

Possible externship/job shadowing activities

  • Tour the facility
  • Sit in on staff meetings
  • Observe customer/client interactions, if applicable
  • Conduct informational interviews with colleagues and/or key staff members
  • Assist with projects or general office tasks
  • Overview of company mission and procedures
  • Visit with the Human Resources Department and/or meet with recruiters
  • Introduce extern to a new employee to give him/her a “fresh perspective”
  • Meet with any UTPA Alumni who work at the organization
  • Provide marketing materials about company/organization for student
  • Demonstrate industry-specific software or tools

Sponsoring organizations may host externs for 2-5 days during the break. Students may also choose to arrange an externship experience on their own at a different time of the year.

"An internship is a form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional setting. Internships give students the opportunity to gain valuable applied experience and make connections in professional fields they are considering for career paths; and give employers the opportunity to guide and evaluate talent."

Internship basics

  • Usually one-semester term experience, sometimes more as determined by employer.
  • Often in the summer, though not always, as per employer.
  • Full-time or part-time; as determined by employer.
  • May be paid or unpaid; and in accordance with U.S. Department of Labor Fact Sheet #71 Internship Programs under the Fair Labor Standards Act.
  • Academic-level determined by employer: Whether open to freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, graduate students.
  • Sometimes for academic credit: Academic credit can only be granted by an academic department, and involves paying tuition. You should absolutely make yourself aware of opportunities and requirements in your academic department.
  • These factors vary by career field, by employer, and by practices in academic departments.

Internship FAQ's

Student Employment Program
The purpose of the Student Employment Program is to ensure professional development and success of our student body. We are dedicated to meet all of your student employment needs, and if you are interested in work-study or direct wage employment, you can view and apply for all on campus or off campus positions through Bronc Career Connection

On Campus Student Employment
Student employment is the opportunity for UTPA students to work on campus as a direct wage or work-study student or off campus as work-study/community service student

UTPA Direct Wage Employment
Direct wage employment provides you the opportunity to work on campus even if you are not awarded work-study. To qualify as a direct wage employee, you must be an enrolled student. All direct wage employees are paid monthly and may work on average of 20 hours per week (weekly hours vary per department); direct wage employees are not eligible for fringe benefits such a holiday vacation, or sick pay.

UTPA Work-Study Employment
Work-study is a government and state subsidized student employment program designed to assist students in financing their post-secondary education. It allows students to work on-campus with a university department or off-campus with a pre-approved community service agency. All work-study employees are paid monthly and may work on average of 20 hours per week (weekly hours vary per department); direct wage employees are not eligible for fringe benefits such a holiday vacation, or sick pay.

Work-Study/Community Service Programs
Under the work-study, community service program, you have the opportunity to work off campus at a preapproved agency such as the McAllen Public Library, Edinburg Boys and Girls Club, Edinburg Consolidated Independent School District, Pharr Library and many nonprofit agencies around the valley. Your duties will range from performing various office aid duties to tutoring elementary aged students in math or reading. If you are interested in participating in our community service programs, please contact the Work-Study Coordinator for more information.

To qualify for work-study:

  • Must complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
  • Must be a U.S. Citizen or permanent resident (international students are not eligible)
  • Students who are not U.S. Citizens or permanent residents must have a social security card (for working purposes only) and an Employment Authorization Card
  • Must be enrolled at least half-time (6 hours) throughout the entire semester
  • Must meet UTPA Satisfactory Academic Progress requirements (
  • Demonstrate financial need (determined by Financial Aid Office)

NOTE: You must be awarded work-study to be considered for any work-study position. Please visit the UTPA Financial Aid Office, located in the Student Services Building, 1.192, if you are interested in qualifying for a work-study award.

Internships & Job Listings