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What is the Difference Between Internship and Fellowship?


Cathy was in the final year of her Management studies and was on the lookout for getting ahead in her career. She consulted her friends and peers about advancing her skill set. But, she got to know that there were certain firms offering internships while there were some best institutes offering fellowships. This was a bit confusing for her to make the choice between internship vs fellowship. As you too are aware that both terms are being often used when it comes to career growth especially for students who are graduate and post-graduate.

So let’s help her understand the difference and in the process, you too could make the difference.

Internship Vs FellowshipWhat is Internship Program?

It is a work opportunity offered by the employer to potential candidates to work for a short period of time. It is usually meant for students and undergraduates wherein the students would need to work for a few weeks to 3 months. It is intended for students to experience the industry practically applying the theory studied.

Adding on, the internships give advantage for the potential candidates as it exposes their skills and experience. Internships are meant to provide career growth for students wishing to excel and provide a network of contacts for future opportunities.

What is Fellowship Program?

It is a program intended to develop the professional front of the candidates. The program is sponsored by different groups of institutions to provide support for the talented, integral candidate. The selection is mostly merit-based and candidates study is sponsored by the institution or an independent group. The candidate has to provide a resume with a recommendation letter and display his achievements to prove his caliber.

The fellowship is awarded in the field of medicine, literature, history, science, data analytics, and other subjects. If you look through the web, you can view that all around the world, many types of fellowships are offered.

Internship vs Fellowship – Making a Comparison of Both:



It is the position offered to the student or a trainee who are interested in gaining work experience in that particular organization or industry.


It is mostly focused on the development of the student by providing study in the specific field. It supports a range of activities namely for the purpose of research, graduate study, for developing a community-based organization, providing training and opportunity for exploring a field of work.



Normally it varies from company to company but it ranges from 1- 3 months. Sometimes, it is for one-year duration as well. Some companies offer as part-time wherein the students work for a few hours or a few days per week. But if it is full time, the students work as the normal working hours of the firm or industry. It is often offered at any time of the year.


As fellowships are offered for a variety of programs, it ranges from few months to years. It also varies on the needs of the department.



  • It offers students hands-on experience in working with the company and in a real-time environment. It helps them to apply their theoretical knowledge to practical applications giving them valuable experience. Having this experience is added advantage making them better candidates for job after their graduation.
  • It helps to identify the career the student wish to progress. Through exposure in the real-time world, he/she might learn that the work they undertook is not what they were looking for. It provides an insight to the job description and makes their choice.
  • It adds on credit to their academic performance.
  • It helps to build a portfolio.
  • It helps to develop professional contacts that support in the future.
  • It provides more insight to the company procedures and policies.
  • It helps to nurture leadership skill as the student gets the opportunity to work in a team.


  • It provides a good working experience that is considered unique that anyone cannot get
  • It gives more responsibility to the position they work for.
  • It is committed to the development of candidate at the professional level through its
  • intensive training program
  • It helps to attract talented professionals
  • It provides a career in higher education for the underrepresented
  • It also promotes leadership opportunity.



Depending on the type of industry, payments are given. But in most cases, it is an unpaid work experience that adds to the curriculum vitae.


Most of the fellowship programs are compensated with wages provided as allowance or stipend. Though it does not equal a full salary package, the amount is enough to take care of rent, daily needs, and other basic amenities. Other incentives like health insurance, loan repayment schemes, and housing allowance are also part of the program provided by some of the institutions.



Mostly college graduates who are in their final year are preferred for application. But sometimes, even fresh graduates who have completed their studies can apply. But doing an internship before completing the graduate course is advantageous as potential employers are keen to look out for such students.


  • Graduate or postgraduate students of any discipline willing to excel in that specific field of interest are preferred
  • It is merit-based.
  • It is mostly awarded for those pursuing a doctoral degree.
  • The candidate who shows self-direction is motivated and has personal integrity is considered.
  • Category of candidates who have demonstrated leadership and has the potential to develop are also preferred.



  • Many companies display their internship program through papers, or their websites wherein students can apply
  • It indicates the period and duration of the program.


  • Student or likely candidate would need to apply using resume along with recommendation letter, transcript and sample work done.
  • Sometimes, the process would include extensive written matter.
  • The selection process depends on the results of the interview conducted. The interview could be a panel or individual or based on group discussions.

Task Assignment:


As the student has to conduct the work as per the guidelines set by the company, the student has to adhere to the company’s needs. He /She does not have the liberty of selecting their own topic of work. The assignment given to the candidate is most of the time administrative in nature.

Also, the student would be given the opportunity to review the various work process to understand how to perform them. As a company works as a team, the candidates works with the team. The company also allows suggestion for improvement from the student working for a short period, so as to get the third eye perspective.


The candidate has the liberty of selecting their field of interest and work in that subject or topic of their choice. This liberty helps them to expand their knowledge and gain valuable experience in their field of work.

Job offer:


  • Student pursuing internship is not guaranteed job offer after completion. It all depends on their performance, and their ability to learn.
  • Only exceptional students who have special ability are considered for a full-time job as the company does not wish to lose the talent.
  • Hence, it is best to be proactive at work, be attentive to details, must have listening skills, and take criticism in a positive aspect.
  • If the candidate has volunteered or conducted volunteer work, then such candidate are preferred over others.
  • Being both hard-working and reliable is preferred by the company


  • Candidates pursuing fellowship could ask the employer about the opportunity
  • By doing exceptional work, the candidate is likely to attract a new position within the company
  • If the candidate is yet to complete studies, then he/she could show their intentions to the employer before completing.
  • Have those connections updated to land a job after fellowship
  • Making use of fellowship title before completion could attract opportunity.
  • Even by publishing journals that candidate has worked on enhances the image
  • Make use of alumni database to get connected

Reasons behind Taking Internship:

Though the primary reason is to gain experience, the student would have a better understanding of what is the job profile. By having hands-on experience, it provides insight to the type of work that a candidate is expecting. It provides the opportunity to gain knowledge through working with new practices. It builds more confidence and improves individual communication making them even bold.

Reasons behind Taking Fellowship:

It is a window of opportunity as the selection is merit-based and the candidate would get exposed to challenging work. It helps to enter the specific industry that the candidate is interested, enhance skill, and provide a professional network.

Getting the proper resume, recommendation and information required for application, it is easy to get a fellowship. This program is mostly funded and the right candidates are provided with the necessary finance. Mostly it is less than full-time salary but enough to maintain.