Be On Time

Treat your externship like a job! It’s your chance for the clinic to learn how great you are. Be on time, clean, and ready to learn. At the end of your externship, you can either apply to the same clinic you externed at as a dental assistant or you can ask the dentists to recommend you to other clinics. Either way, you’ll want to make a lasting and great impression.

Stay Alert

Be quick on your feet and always look for the next opportunity to help or learn something. Keep distractions at a minimum by keeping your phone in the break room and silencing notifications on your smartwatch if you wear one. Make sure you eat a great breakfast before you head in each morning to keep your energy at optimum levels.

Take Notes

During your breaks, lunches, and after each day concludes, jot down what you’ve learned, questions you have, and your thoughts. Draw pictures of hand pieces, room arrangements, and how to set up rooms for specific procedures. Not only will you have the advantage to study over your drawings and writings after the day is done, but you can keep these notes in case there is a gap between your externship and first day of employment.


Yes, it’s a just business term people throw around a lot, but networking really does work! Make friends with the employees, dental assistants, and dentists at your externship. Work on remembering everyone’s names and something about them on your first day. On your last day, ask them for their email in case you need to reach out for a letter of recommendation or if you have any follow-up questions. If you find someone to be more of a “mentor,” definitely ask if you can stay in contact with them.

Stay Positive

It’s totally normal to be nervous! There’s a good chance you’ve never done anything like this, but take a deep breath, you’re going to do great! Keep a good attitude throughout your externship. Remember, you’re still learning, so it’s okay if you don’t remember every detail the first time you learn it. Keep wearing a smile, get to know the people around you, and relax into the dental clinic setting.

Show Gratitude

Remember to thank every assistant and dentist that helps you learn on your externship. Send the office a card after your externship concludes expressing the gratitude you feel for the office to spend time to jump start your career.