Even High School Students Can Get Internships
Internships are most commonly offered to college students, but if you're a high school student with a lot of ambition, you might want to find a summer internship of your own. As a high school student, an internship might be harder to find, but often times, these jobs give you better career experience than typical summer jobs for high school students.
Benefits of a Summer Internship for High School Students
Since you're not in college yet, your summer internship obviously won't earn you any college credit, and while there are occasionally paid opportunities, it is much more likely for high school internships to be unpaid. So then, what's the benefit for you as a student?
- Resume Building: Just like college students, your internship will help you build a resume. Work experience in your desired field is much better than a retail job or no work experience at all.
- Gaining References: If you do a good job, your internship manager can serve as a reference for you when you apply for a job or college.
- Exploring Career Options: You might know that you love math or hate science, but do you really know what you want to do as a career? An internship helps you explore your options so that you can go into college confident in the major you choose.
- Transition to a Real Job: When companies have open positions, often the first place they look is within their internship program. Even though you're just a high school student, the internship could lead to a real job with the company in the future.
- Scholarships: Some internship programs offer scholarships to high school students who participate. It's a great way to pay for your college tuition.
Don't overlook the fact that spending your summer as an intern can also be a lot of fun. Companies that offer internships to high school student often hire many interns from across the country, so you'll have the opportunity to meet lots of new people who are all interested in the same field as you.
Types of Summer Internships for High School Students
As a high school student, your options for an internship might be limited by your age. Depending on the state where you live, as well as how old you are, some jobs are legally not open to you and there may be limitations as to how many hours you can work.
As far as the options that are open, they typically fall into the following categories:
- Internships Away from Home: These internships require you to travel to a company's headquarters, where you usually receive room and board in exchange for the work you do as part of the program. These internships are more like camps than actual jobs in most cases and may include field trips to learn more about your industry, fun group activities for your free time, and workshops on skills such as writing a resume. You'll be part of a large group of interns in this scenario.
- Local Internships: Internships in your local community are more like a traditional job. The tasks you do depend not just on your age, but also on whether or not the internship is paid. Generally speaking, you cannot legally replace paid workers and the company can't profit from your work if you're an unpaid intern.
Quick Fact: Companies offer hire previous high school interns to serve as internship program chaperones when they are in college, so this can transition to a summer job for you in the future.
High school students who can't find an internship program that both fits their interests and is open to younger candidates might instead want to consider an externship.
Otherwise known as job shadowing, with an externship, you'll watch closely as others work in your desired industry, and you may even be able to try your hand at some tasks, but there is less direct experience in the field and more observation.
Externships can last one day or they can last for several days, though most don't last longer than two weeks. The great thing about an externship is that you can find them in just about any industry, even if you've never seen any local businesses advertise opportunities. Simply talk to the company's human resources department or the owner of the business and voice your interest in job shadowing. Most are happy to spend time with you, at least for a day.
While externships aren't as beneficial as internships (they rarely if ever pay and typically aren't included on a resume), they do give you the opportunity to try your hand at lots of different fields without committing to a long-term arrangement. This can help you figure out the career path you want to take in college.
Choosing an Internship
As a high school student, it is important to be extremely discerning about the internships you take, since experience and a future reference are your major benefits. Some companies are simply looking for free labor, and while this practice is illegal, not every company is caught. Look for the internship where you'll learn the most, rather than becoming the coffee girl and learning little about the actual industry.
Whether you're a high school student or in college, there is one other type of internship you can consider – and international internship! Check out the next page to learn more.
- While you can't earn college credit for an internship during high school, they can help you build your resume, gain references, explore your career options, transition into a real job, and earn scholarships.
- High school students can find internships away from home, which are more like summer camps, as well as local internships.
- Externships, or job shadowing, are also an option for younger students interested in interning.
- Be careful to choose an internship option that will benefit you as a student, not one where you'll just be used as free labor.