A Short Guide to Internships for High School Students

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    Are you a high school student looking to gain exposure to a new field or potential career path, build connections, and potentially even earn academic credit (or cash)? If you internally answered “YES!” to any of the aforementioned opportunities, then keep reading to learn about internships for high school students.

    Okay so, I may have gotten ahead of myself there! Before we dive into some great internships for high school students, let’s go over some of the basics.

    What even is an internship?

    The formal definition of an internship is “the position of a student or trainee who works in an organizations, sometimes unpaid, to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification”.

    Non-formally speaking, an internship is a professional learning experience that essentially allows you to gain more knowledge and skills in a given field, all while helping you decide if that field is actually something you’d be interested in pursuing as a career.

    What are the benefits of getting an internship?

    Across the board, there are numerous benefits to getting an internship. However, here we’re focusing specifically on internships for high school students.

    So, if you are indeed a high schooler (assuming you are since you read past my introductory line!) you’ll be even more pleased to learn that there are potentially even more benefits to getting an internship in high school compared to, say, a college or post-graduate internship.

    Here are just a few of the many benefits of internships for high school students:

    1. Exposure to a potential career path – maybe you loved your sophomore year Chemistry class, and it had you thinking about a career as an engineer or chemist. An internship has the potential to provide you with real-world exposure to some of the jobs that people with your same interest have, helping you to decide whether or not it’s the right field or career for you.
    2. Build connections – internships can not only be a great place to meet other students with similar interests, but it can also be an awesome opportunity to help you build connections for later on in your academic or professional career. Spoiler: this applies to all work experiences, not just internships! However, if you’re embarking on an internship journey that you know is relevant to your intended field of study, definitely take some extra time to get to know your peers and maybe even find yourself a mentor!
    3. Get outside of your comfort zone – You may or may not have worked a job before, let alone one that is in an area you’re professionally interested in. While this can certainly be a bit nerve-wracking to some, remember that internships are a great way to dip your foot in the water and learn!
    4. Looks great on your resume, and can be a great topic for college application and/or scholarship essays! – Having an internship in high school shows you’re eager to learn, willing to take risks and put yourself out there, and organized, all impressive things that would certainly be worth mentioning in your next scholarship essay or on your college admissions resume (shoutout to all you high school juniors and high school seniors in college mode!)
    5. You might be able to earn academic credit, or get paid – Last, but certainly not least, depending on the program, you may be able to earn academic credits or even money through an internship.

    Internships for high school students are designed to be a stepping stone to teach you more about a specific field or job within that field.

    The type of exposure that an internship typically offers can help you to decide if that field or job is a potentially good fit for you.

    Ultimately, the goal is for you to leave feeling more prepared, exposed, and informed as you take the next step in your journey, whether that's by obtaining a college degree or diving into the workforce.

    Internships for high school students: are they more beneficial than your average internship?

    Based on the idea that internships for high school students are a great stepping stone, you’re probably wondering WHY I believe internships for high school students have even more potential benefits than just your average internship. Hear me out:

    As a high school student, you don’t have as much pressure as you do in college or once you’re already graduated and looking for a job to figure out what you want to do.

    This time allows you to explore your options, research internships and programs across different fields of interest, and take on opportunities without necessarily worrying about whether or not it’s relevant to your major or intended career.

    As I like to say, in this case, all experience is good experience!

    Where can I find internships to apply for?

    So, now you likely have a solid understanding of what an internship is, and what some of the benefits are of internships for high school students specifically. But where can you find these programs to apply for?

    1. Google – while Google can often be a big rabbit hole, it can also be a great starting point in your search for internship programs! Say I was a high school student living in New York who was interested in STEM programs. I’d start my search with phrases such as “Internships for new York high school students”, “internships for New York stem students” and so on, compiling all of the programs I find onto an excel sheet or google doc so I don’t forget any of them along the way.
    2. Your high school counselor / teachers – Once you’ve solidified that you’re interested in pursuing an internship, reach out to your school counselor and any relevant teachers (i.e. teachers in that area of focus) to let them know! They may know of programs that are specific to students in your area, which could cut down your search process significantly.
    3. Job search websites – One common misconception about job sites is that they’re only good for people looking for full-time work. Job sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed can be great resources to help you find internships outside of the most competitive, big-name programs.
    4. This blog post – Last, but certainly not least, I will be closing out this post by listing a bunch of great internship opportunities for high school students organized by area of focus. Keep reading for the deets!

    Internships for high school students: the shortlist!

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