Summer internships for High School Students

While colleges increasingly emphasize the value of “experiential” or “hands-on”learning within their own communities, high school students are discovering real benefits in setting aside time during their high school careers for internships or other out-of-classroom experiences. In fact, they are finding that internships provide amazing opportunities to gain significant work experience while exploring long-term career options.
But these opportunities don’t magically appear. You have to plan ahead and do a little networking.

And now is a good time to begin nailing-down plans for next summer.
Although college students usually stand at the head of the line for internships,businesses and nonprofit organizations are increasingly holding positions open for students currently in high school or those transitioning to college. But make no mistake—these positions are getting increasingly competitive.  And many application deadlines are coming significantly earlier than in past years.

It may take advance planning and persistence, but opportunities are out there.

Why intern?
Going through the internship application process teaches much-needed job search and employment skills. Preparing a résumé, asking for recommendations, landing an interview, and understanding what it means to be a responsible employee are all skills that give high school students an edge in college and beyond.
And it’s no secret that internships strengthen college applications, as these opportunities introduce students to career fields or potential majors and reinforce valuable research or lab skills.
An internship helps students understand how professional organizations function in the real world. While learning and working, interns have the opportunity to refine career goals. In fact, a summer internship can serve as a “trial period” to test ideas about professions and industries without making any long-term commitments.
If you’re especially lucky, these kinds of opportunities can also lead to award-winning science fair projects, journal articles, or patents.

Where are the internships?
Local businesses and organizations sometimes have formal internship programs designed specifically for high school students. But for the most part, these programs do not offer housing and are usually limited to students able to commute or living in the immediate area.
For example, here is a sample of the many organizations making internships available to high school students:

Fora great list of opportunities outside of the DC area, check the webpages maintained by the Rochester Institute of Technology ( ).  Scroll down for high school students and note that while the dates may not be updated the links are). 
Be aware that some internship opportunities are “salaried” positions, some have stipends, and some are strictly volunteer.  Again, they are generally highly competitive, and some deadlines may already be past. So make note for next year.
Also, many organizations don’t advertise the availability of summer internships. This is when you have to do a little investigative work on the internet and through other kinds of public job listings. Use your networks—parents, relatives,family friends, teachers—anyone who may have contacts in businesses or organizations of interest to you. At the end of the day, internships are great ways to get to know yourself a little better while building skills that will make you competitive for the future.

This blog was written by Nancy Griesemer. She is an independent college consultant practicing in Oakton, Virginia. I have two children who survived the college admissions process and a very large tabby cat who sits in on many of my counseling sessions. My credentials include degrees from Penn and Harvard, professional membership in the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA) as well as the Higher Education Consultants Association (HECA), and a Certificate in College Counseling from UCLA. As a professional college consultant, I support students and families navigating their own personal college explorations. Check out her blog here: