Updated: Feb 2018
What's a great way for your teen to gain valuable experience, explore college majors and careers, strengthen their resume and develop responsibility? An internship! Internships help students learn more about industries or fields of interest, meet professionals to whom they can turn as mentors in the future and most importantly, gain real world experience. Here are five tips on where to start as you and your high school student look for internship opportunities:
1. Start at the guidance counselor's office – The high school guidance counselor's office is a great place to begin the search for internships, as it may have a current listing of opportunities and programs available in the area for students.
2. Check out organizations' headquarters – Headquarters of large corporations often have summer internship programs for high school students. If you have relatives in a major metropolitan area with whom your teen could stay for a summer, consider exploring companies outside of your hometown. In Menlo Park, California, Facebook offers a summer high school internship program. In Washington, D.C., there are internship programs at organizations such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Institutes of Health and the Library of Congress, to name a few. In San Francisco, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission has a high school internship program for students interested in the field of transportation.
3. Explore companies and organizations in your area. What companies are in your town or city? Look at their websites to see if they list internships. If companies that interest your teen don't seem to have anything formal in place, they still might consider hiring a hard working student who wants to learn their business. If your teen is interested in a particular field or type of company, encourage him or her to send out cover letters and resumes to a top 10 list of organizations. Many companies respond positively to students who take such initiative, and even if they don't have a posted position, they might create one for an eager student who takes initiative.
4. Check out colleges. Community colleges and four-year colleges and universities are great places to look for internships. Stanford's School of Earth Sciences has a number of different summer internship programs for high school students. Pennsylvania State University offers many different summer programs. The University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio's summer program exposes high school students interested in health careers to medical and biomedical research. Rutgers University's New Jersey Medical School has a high school intern research exposure program. Explore the colleges in your state for programs for high school students.
5. Look for volunteer opportunities. If your teen strikes out in his or her search for internships, an alternate route could be to volunteer. Many organizations that don't have the budget to pay interns might still be willing to take on an unpaid intern or volunteer for a few hours a week. A company may have your teen start out shadowing some of its employees, but the exposure to the industry and individuals' roles within it will be valuable no matter what.
With college admissions becoming more competitive, internships can help high school students set themselves apart from their peers. Not only that, students can try out careers of interest, gain great experience and increase their professionalism. With some effort, your teen can find a great internship that will build their resume and help him or her gain new skills.