I'm taking a hands-on lab course for information security. It requires VMware player and I have to create one virtual machine each for CentOS and Windows 8. The software applications are all free licenses. My native OS is Linux Mint 18.

I have an Intel Core i3 with 3.7 Ghz dual core
7200 rpm 500 GB SATA drive
Intel integrated graphics.

I'd really like to keep the host OS (Linux Mint 1 on the SATA drive, and put the virtual machines/hypervisor/guest operating systems on an external USB solid state drive. I'm new to virtualization. How to people normally set up VM's? I did some research on this. But it looks like there are a few different options for this.