Are you a high school student thinking about interning? Good for you! For some reason, we tend to reserve internship experiences for college kids, but high school students are great candidates, too. Interning in high school is a smart idea no matter your career path because it:
- helps prepare career-focused high school students for work in the field
- equips college-bound grads with portfolio-builders that make them stand out
Internship /ˈinˌtərnˌSHip/ (noun): A period of work experience offered to a student, apprentice, or trainee to gain work experience or satisfy a certain requirement. Internships are generally fully-monitored learning experiences and may be paid or unpaid.
Ready to hop on the internship express? Tallo is here to help you discover everything you need to know about how to land the perfect one while you’re still in high school. Reference this guide to learn how to find an internship and how to use the experience as a jumping off point for your blindingly bright future.
Do High School Students Need Internships?
While internships are not a requisite for college or trade school admittance, the truth is that completing one will undoubtedly give you an extra edge when building up your portfolio, resumé, or college application. At the very least, interning gives you the opportunity to get up close and personal with something you love, whether it be animals, the arts, engineering, or construction. Here are some more reasons why you should consider doing one.
- Internships Make You Stand Out — Are you looking for some easy ways to make your college application, essay, or resumé totally dazzle? The truth is that you only get a few minutes to make your application stand out, so anything you can do to catch the eye of the admissions office or hiring manager is worth your time. Internships show that you have well-rounded experience that goes beyond the classroom, and that you’re adaptable enough to fit into any environment.
- Internships Give You a Head Start — What’s amazing about early internships is that they quite literally allow you to see into your future. You’ll be able to get an inside look at exactly how your chosen career field operates to determine whether or not it’s actually something you can see yourself doing for the long-term. And if you decide the role or field is not for you — that’s great! Now you know.
- Internships Provide Real-World Experience — Up until now, you may not have had much responsibility outside of school. And while education is crucial, it’s not designed to give you real-world experience. With an internship, you’re expected to behave like a professional rather than a student. Commuting, interacting with other professionals, and dealing with real-life stressors are the norm, helping you learn a little bit more about what your post-school life will be like.
- Internships Help You Network — For many students, internships are the first time they’re put in an environment with others in the field or industry where they intend to spend most of their professional lives. You’ll meet co-workers and supervisors who are interested in the same things you are and who have successfully made a career out of it. And, hey, who knows, maybe your boss will still be the boss when you’re ready to start your career — that’ll definitely give you a leg up!
- Internships Help You Earn Money — Here’s some inside info for you: not all internships are unpaid. Yep, you may be able to nab a paid internship while you’re still in high school to squirrel away some cash for that expensive college or trade school tuition (or senior week vacay, if that’s what you’re into). A paycheck isn’t the only way that internships (quite literally) pay. They also may lead to valuable scholarship opportunities that can help reduce some of the financial burden post-high school. Pretty awesome!
- Internships Help You Make Friends — Before you head off to college or begin your trade, it’s healthy to branch out from your high school friends and meet people who have similar career interests as you. When you complete an internship program, you’ll automatically be introduced to a number of people with similar goals.
- Internships Immerse You in What You Love — A good high school internship is one that puts students face-to-face with the things they’re passionate about. Whether that be natural conservation, animals, politics, science, technology, medicine, film, TV, the arts, or something else entirely, the right internship should be an immersive experience that engages and excites the industry’s future professionals. In other words: they’re fun!
The Best Internships for High School Students
The most prohibitive factor for interning in high school is scheduling. When you’re still a full-time student — perhaps engaged in sports, clubs, and other extracurriculars that suck up a ton of your time — the idea of squeezing in one more thing can seem legitimately impossible. Luckily, there are some clever ways students find the time to intern without disrupting their busy schedules.
Seek out summer internships, special programs, or workplaces that have evening and weekend hours that might work for you. Here are some of the opportunities that tend to work well with the typical high school student’s schedule.
- Summer Camps — Summer is primetime for internships, since school is out and many extracurriculars are on hold. If you dream of becoming a teacher, guidance counselor, artist, park ranger, or anything involving children, then you might consider interning at a summer camp. Look for camps that have a greater mission, such as one for underserved kids in your community or kids with disabilities.
- Animal Shelters — Animal shelter employees and volunteers work around the clock caring for homeless pets — walking, feeding, administering medicine, and (ideally) doing lots of petting. That means that they will often work with your schedule, allowing you to help out after school or on the weekends. Seek out pet rescue internship opportunities if you dream of someday being a veterinarian, vet tech, groomer, or anything else that involves working with animals.
- The U.S. Secret Service — Seriously, what high-achieving high school student wouldn’t want to protect the nation’s leaders from harm? The Secret Service has an amazing high school internship program for students age 16 and older. While the job isn’t paid, it can earn you academic credit while you learn some amazing new skills. This job brings an excellent opportunity for students who someday intend to go into law enforcement, the military, or government in any capacity.
- Your Favorite Tech Company — Google, Microsoft, Apple, Facebook — they all have top-notch high school internship opportunities that are perfect for students who someday dream of going into science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. Google’s Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI) is a three-week computer science program for high school seniors who intend to go on to work in technology. Facebook Summer Academy offers a six-week externship to students each summer, with opportunities in finance, human resources, IT, media, communications, and more. Program graduates earn a $2,700 stipend.
- NASA — If you envision yourself someday heading to the moon, you can totally get your foot in the door with an internship at NASA. The space administration offers full-time high school students an opportunity to intern through various different departments and projects. NASA has many test and research facilities throughout the country, so you don’t necessarily have to move to Houston or D.C. for the job! Most NASA interns also receive a stipend upon completion, depending on the length of the internship.
- Zoos and Aquariums — Anyone with an interest in wildlife and animals may consider interning at a zoo or aquarium. Each summer, student interns help zoos run throughout the busiest season of the year, assisting with summer camps, educational programs, and daily zoo duties. This would be an amazing opportunity for any high schooler who dreams of getting up close and personal with wildlife!
- Medical Programs — Because of issues of patient privacy and high training requirements, it’s not often easy nor practical to intern in a doctor’s office, hospital, or clinic as a high school student. However, there are a number of amazing medical internship programs throughout the country that can introduce you to fundamental healthcare concepts while you’re still in high school. Some examples are the Medical Immersion Summer Academy (MISA) and the Arthritis Foundation Summer Science Internship Program. Interested in public health? The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers the CDC Museum Disease Detective Camp for high school juniors and seniors every summer.
- Political Campaigns — Political campaigns at every level, whether for city council or president of the United States, rely on volunteers and interns for success. Summer and fall are primetime for political internships, with most major elections taking place in November. You can seek out opportunities locally or find room and board internship programs in Washington, D.C. or in your state’s Capitol. This is a great avenue for students who aspire to work in politics, social justice, or law.
- Film and TV — If you’ve ever dreamed of someday working in Hollywood, don’t overlook the film and TV production internship opportunities out there. Whether you see yourself someday writing, acting, directing, operating the camera, or designing the costumes, there are opportunities that help you get real-life film and TV experience when you’re still in high school.
How to Find High School Internships
So now that you know that it’s definitely a good idea to get a ’ship on your record, how do you go about finding one? The first thing you should do is try to get a rough idea of where you’d like to intern. That way, you can go into the process of looking for one with a general idea of what you’d like to do. Here are some great places to go once you’ve settled on a general idea:
- Use Tallo. Tallo is the platform that lets you showcase everything you’ve worked so hard to brag about. It helps you find an internship that suits your specific education and career goals. On top of that, Tallo will even pair you with scholarships and jobs that help you reach your ultimate career goals. Tallo = your secret weapon to landing an amazing internship in high school. It also helps with internships for college students, so keep using it even after you graduate!
- Talk to your guidance counselor. Your guidance counselors, teachers, and school administrators may be in the know about some local internships that are only offered through your school. Often, the biggest companies, government entities, industries, and organizations in your region will seek out internships directly through high schools, so definitely check there!
- Talk to your friends and parents. Networking is a big part of career development, so why not start with your immediate household and friends circle? Inquire with friends, family members, and parents about internship ideas. They may know of a good opportunity for you and can help you brainstorm the right opportunities.
- Stay focused on your grades and activities. The ideal college and workforce candidates are those who are well-rounded, responsible, and focused. Don’t forget to keep your grades up and keep your commitments — including clubs, sports, and the arts — to dazzle potential employers and the college admissions office.
Aim for the Bullseye
Remember, not every single internship opportunity is right for every single student, so don’t be afraid to be discerning. If something doesn’t interest you — don’t stress! Turn it down and don’t stop looking until you find one that’s a perfect fit. With the help of Tallo, you’ll be able to land your dream internship as a high school student and then go on to score your dream job after that!