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For young adults in San Diego County, the traditional part-time job is no longer the only entry point to the world of work. From the long-standing paid internship and apprenticeship to newer models like externships and mentorships—the San Diego Workforce Partnership’s CONNECT2Careers (C2C) program is broadening the offering of paid work opportunities available to 16–24 year-olds in the region. Read on to learn more about what makes each one unique.


What is an internship?

An internship offers individuals a venue to gain experience in an industry, career or at a specific company they are interested in learning more about. Internships typically last from three months (e.g. summer internship) to a full year. When an individual participates in an internship, they get an in-depth experience and become educated on the details of the job. Interns are typically assigned specific tasks they are expected to complete.

What is an externship?

An externship, sometimes referred to as a “job shadow,” is a short work experience, which usually spans one day to one week.  Externships are an introduction to a specific industry or career. Rather than participants being provided with specific work tasks, they may attend meetings or shadow employees to learn what types of tasks are completed in different departments on a daily basis. Externships are great options for individuals who want to get an inside look at a career prior to beginning their education in that field.

While most externships are typically unpaid, the C2C School Break Externship Program offers paid work experience for 16–24-year-olds during their winter and spring breaks. In addition to the paid work experience, externs receive work readiness training to help prepare them for their very first job. “I’ve learned to adapt to my environments,” explains Rolando Rodriguez, former C2C extern who notes that getting real world experience was his biggest takeaway from the program.

What is a mentorship?

A mentorship is a work experience opportunity with a heavy focus on the learning and professional development of the mentee. In the C2C City Mentorship Program, mentees receive 20 hours of paid work-readiness training prior to starting a paid 150-hour mentorship experience. Mentees are paired with City of San Diego employees who work in all sectors of public service.


“The value of the City Mentorship program for the mentee is the ability to work closely with a professional who can train, coach, mentor and expose them to a professional work experience,” says C2C Program Coordinator Sedrick Ntwali. Mentee alumni share that they value the training component and feel they are completing the program with numerous tangible skills that will be useful for the future. In addition, mentorships provide value to the mentors who may develop additional leadership skills and create or retain new and upcoming talent in their workspace—it’s a win-win.

What is an apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships are a unique and highly valuable form of on-the-job training that pairs classroom instruction with hands on experience. Apprenticeships are very popular in skilled trade professions, such as a carpenter or electrician, because they create a pipeline of skilled workers who have customized talent. Up and coming trade professionals benefit from apprenticeships because they can earn while they learn, gain relevant experience, form a strong network and receive guidance as they start out in a new field.