Externship where you actually learn.
Sounds like a good plan and a good attitude to me. Goodatcha!
I would suggest looking around for a potential externship way in advance that way you can do your research and make a good choice. Just remember that talk is cheap, anybody can do it and chefs are just as guilty of it as anybody else.
When you think you may have found a potentially good externship possibility, ask the chef if you can come in and watch and help out for a few days in order to see if it will be a good fit for everyone concerned. By doing that you will gain valuable insight into whether the chef talks being willing to take time to teach or actually does it.
It might even take you a few trials of different chefs to find one that will make good on his talk, but they are out there, just keep looking if necessary.