Applied learning is often described as quite different from learning in the classroom in the types of knowledge and competencies that it equips students with. While opportunities that are academic in nature abound, opportunities that focus on equipping high school students with technical skills or introduce them to an actual work environment sometimes require more dedicated searching. And, what’s more, it often doesn’t occur to high school student that some of these opportunities are even available to them, since internships or work experience are more commonly thought of as being for undergraduates and postgraduates looking for work experience.
There are paid and unpaid internships, and high school students are more likely to be able to apply for internships that are unpaid or offer some kind of stipend. Unpaid internships are unlike volunteering in that they teach students a different set of skills, and have different connotations, although they can have important similarities. While one can indeed intern on a voluntary (i.e. unpaid) basis, but an internship read very differently form voluntary engagements on a resume or an application because they are less often connected to specific causes (although they can be) and require students to complete different sets of tasks. It is good to have both activities on a resume, but it is also important to understand that they communicate different things. An internship might very well sound more professional and reputable, and fewer applicants’ resumes will boast this kind of engagement, since they are harder to find and not many people know about them.
How do you get internships as a high school student?
To begin with, have a resume that’s polished, concise and convincing. Write motivation letters that are very carefully tailored to the company that you are applying to. And finally, network! Think of people that you know and how they can help you. The first step is always to ask, and then see where that may lead you. Oftentimes, people are happy to help or share information. You can even start with the people you are closest to, and move from there. Ask your parents, relatives, friends, friends of relatives, friends of friends, teachers, etc. Utilize digital resources and email business around you, but also don’t be afraid to show up at their doorstep with a copy of your CV and simply say that you’re looking for work experience. Maybe they won’t have a place for you, but they will know your name and contact details, or they will be able to point you to someone looking for a candidate with your background.
One crucial difference between internships and academic summer programs, along with the fact that summer programs more often than not will offer accommodation to their participants. This immediately sets the tone for the whole experience. At academic summer programs, studying is integrated with a host of other activities – you eat, sleep, study and spend your free time in the same general area – and the emphasis is on having a comprehensive college experience. On the other hand, internships might place a greater focus on the work that you produce, as well as your approach to working in a professional environment.
This article highlights better-known internship opportunities that are available, but as indicated in the eligibility requirements, many of them are open only to local students. For this reason, it may be a better idea to look for internship opportunities locally rather than globally. This will lessen the burden of commuting and finding accomodation, and it will show admissions officers that you took initiative locally and engaged in your community.
The Department of Education offers an internship program for students with an interest in “government and federal education policy and administration”, in projects related to policy analysis and evaluation, research, finance, public affairs and communications, community outreach, intergovernmental relations, legislative affairs, news media, legal work, and other areas. In addition to working on their project, interns also have the opportunity to participate in other activities such as brown bag lunches with senior ED officials, professional development and resume-writing workshops, and more. Students can expect to work eight to ten weeks, 20 to 40 hours per week in the spring/fall sessions and full-time in the summer. All scheduling, however, is subject to change based on the candidate’s availability and the specific timeframes are negotiated during the interview and selection process. To apply, students must submit an application using the application portal where they include a cover letter specifying which particular offices they are interested in and an up-to-date resume. Eligible students are then interviewed by ED staff. If they are selected, they must submit additional paperwork, complete various trainings and be subject to a background check.
Deadline: July 15 (fall session); October 1 (winter/spring session); March 15 (summer session)
Eligibility: be at least 16 years of age, attend an accredited educational institution, have permission from the institution at which he/she is currently enrolled to participate in internship program, and be enrolled not less than half time in a course of study related to the work to be performed.
Program dates: September through December (fall session); January through May (winter/spring session); May/June through July/August (summer session)
The Student Historian Internship Program is a great opportunity for students in history and art. Interns use the resources of New-York Historical to not only carry out research, but also to explore how their skills in historical research and interpretation can be applied in a professional setting. Interns meet with professional staff to learn about the possible careers in the museum, library, and history fields, participate in collaborative work with their peers to hone various skills such as public speaking and leadership. Interns also do hands-on work through which they can expand and deepen their understanding and appreciation of history and art. Interns may be offered a stipend for their participation, while all other accepted students will participate in unpaid internships, with the option of being awarded community service hours or credit for their participation. Returning Student Historian interns can follow the paid internship program as Teen Leaders. To apply, students must submit an application form where they have to answer short answer questions about their interest and motivation, extracurricular activities and future goals, and a letter of recommendation from a teacher. Selected applicants receive an invitation participate in an interview, after which final selections are made.
Deadline: applications for the summer cohort open in January and close in February of 2018
Eligibility: Applicants for the academic year program must be in grades 10, 11, or 12; summer applicants must be entering those grades or their first year of college. Applicants must also live in and attend school in the New York City metro area.
Summer: July 5 – August 9, Tuesday – Thursday, 10 am – 3 pm and additional Friday, July 6 applications open on January 22
Academic Year: November – June, every Wednesday, 4:00 – 6:30 pm (excluding NYC public school holidays) applications open in August
Microsoft is a leading company in technology and software development with a dominant presence in the technology world. It offers two internships as part of its high school program. The first is a paid 10-week summer internship, where interns have the opportunity to work alongside software engineers on real Microsoft projects and obtain not only valuable work experience but also significant insight into the workplace culture of not only Microsoft but of the tech world at large. You will have the opportunity to get hands-on experience and on-the-job learning as you work on technology projects that have an impact on people’s lives around the world. In Microsoft’s Minecraft Programming and Digital Art Camp, programming interns and digital art interns will collaborate with teams to work on the feature development, content creation and visual development of Minecraft. To apply to the high school program, interested students must submit an online application and send in their letter of recommendation to MSHSIN@microsoft.com
Deadline: March 3, 2018.
Eligibility: High school juniors and seniors in the Puget Sound region of Washington state who are at least 16 years old and have a legal right to work in the U.S. for the duration of the internship
Program dates: June 25 – August 31, 2018