Navigating the World of High School Internships

August 4, 2022

The Evolving Landscape of Internships

Internships have long been a mainstay of professional growth and development. These opportunities have traditionally provided college students with the chance to gain meaningful work experience and networking opportunities that serve as catalysts for future career advancement. And while internships remain an important component of many college students’ journeys, a recent trend has seen high school students becoming more actively involved in these pursuits, as well. Students interested in these types of opportunities should consider a number of factors as they navigate the world of high school internships.

Being Resourceful

One of the most important characteristics high school students interested in internships should be mindful of is resourcefulness. With more and more students seeking out internships, it’s imperative that every student utilize any and all resources available to them in their search for opportunities.

An effective strategy to accomplish this is to first identify pathways of interest, whether it be related to economics, computer programming, medicine, or any other discipline. Once you have a clear sense of your specific interests, you should go online to research companies located in your local area that align with these interests and reach out to them in a way that demonstrates both your interest and aptitude for making contributions. It’s important to remember that high school internships aren’t always clearly defined and outlined, so be creative in surveying your options and be sure to explore every possible opportunity available to you in the process.

The Role of LinkedIn

LinkedIn can also play a crucial role for students seriously considering internship opportunities. This is because LinkedIn serves as the primary digital platform for individuals wanting to present skill sets, aptitudes, and interests in a professional setting. Creating a carefully-crafted LinkedIn profile allows students to demonstrate a focus on specific career pathways and, more importantly, what it is that they can contribute to a company or organization’s mission. Think value. It’s also important to note that many admissions officers and departments frequently use LinkedIn for a variety of purposes, so be sure to keep this in mind!

Paid v. Unpaid

A frequent point of contention surrounding the merits of internships is centered upon the debate between those that are paid and unpaid and whether those that offer no compensation are legal, moral, and most importantly, worthy of pursuing. Issues related to legality and morality aside, high school students looking to gain entry level experience should remain focused on applying to anything and everything available to them. This is because young people often lack sufficient tangible skills and experience to command a paid position. Additionally, the experience gained through an internship, whether paid or not, can demonstrate initiative and determination to both colleges and future employers. Receiving a well-crafted recommendation letter is another potential benefit internships often provide. In other words, take advantage of the opportunities available to you and view them as foundational building blocks for professional growth.

In Summary

High school students interested in pursuing internship opportunities face a series of hurdles that require effective strategizing to overcome. Formal opportunities are limited, competition is increasingly fierce, and many internships available don’t provide formal compensation. Despite these realities, students should not be dissuaded from pursuing such opportunities. Be resourceful. Take initiative. Demonstrate aptitude. And above all else, take advantage of what is available to you. Your future self will surely thank you.

High School Internship Opportunities

Below is a list of well-established organizations that provide internship opportunities for high school students in a variety of industries and fields of study. These prominent programs are a great starting point for students looking to gain a better understanding and clearer insights into what is available to them.

The Bank of America Student Leaders Program focuses on providing youth leadership training and work experience by offering paid internships with local nonprofits in addition to a national leadership summit.

The Teachers College Virtual Internship Program at Columbia University is available to students in grades 9-11 and focuses on cutting-edge technology and psychology. These programs offer a high degree of flexibility and are five weeks in duration. This is a great opportunity for students looking to enhance their understanding of human behavior and motivation.

The Smithsonian offers a range of internships intended to provide students with workplace-based learning experience in a variety of settings, including museums and research centers.

NASA provides a wide array of opportunities for STEM students to gain practical experience through its Goddard Space Flight Center program.

The Microsoft Discovery Program is specifically catered to rising first-year undergraduate students that live in Redmond, Washington, and the surrounding area. These opportunities are paid and cater to students with an interest in technology.

The Library of Congress incorporates more than 80 applied learning and career advancement programs for students to gain academic and professional experience.

The New York Historical Society allows students to conduct teen-led research and explore how knowledge of history can lead to meaningful change in the present while under the guidance of historian mentors.

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Scholars Program provides students with an interest in STEM based fields the chance to conduct research and gain hands-on work experience under the supervision of AFRL scientists and engineers.

The Google Computer Science Summer Institute is a four-week program for rising first-year college students interested in enhancing their knowledge and understanding in the fields of technology and innovation.

Kaiser Permanente’s KP LAUNCH High School Program offers students with an interest in medical and health care careers the chance to gain administrative work experience. Opportunities are paid, and the program runs for seven weeks during the summer. It includes weekly workshops to help students prepare for a career in healthcare.