Internships have a reputation of immersing aspiring professionals into a hands-on work environment. Not only that, internships can help boost credibility on your resume and help you qualify for a higher-ranking position when it comes time to advance your career. In essence, an internship establishes you as a professional.
In today’s competitive environment, it comes as no surprise that high school students are racking up real-life work experience through part-time jobs, volunteering and internships; even with a demanding academic schedule. So where can you find time in your busy schedule to maintain an internship on the side? Better yet, where do you begin to look?
Score a high school summer internship & establish yourself as an up-and-coming professional
The Benefits of an Internship
First things first, why should you intern in the first place? We already mentioned: resume building, increased credibility and the overall experience you will gain in a professional environment; but what else? Fortunately, there’s much more to be discovered during your tenure as an intern. Students who put part of their focus towards obtaining, maintaining and, of course, thriving at their internship, will experience a wealth of benefits including:
- Networking and collaborating with professionals in a career environment of interest. These skills will benefit students immensely once their tenure wraps up and college graduation looms.
- An opportunity to get your foot ‘in the door’ and learn what it’s really like working on a team by gaining first-hand experience of what it’s really like to work in a specific field.
- Communication and interpersonal skills. While you will certainly be given that opportunity in the classroom, communicating with professionals in the industry will help you familiarize yourself with industry language—both spoken and written.
- Valuable time management skills that will give you a jump start on the ability to take on multiple responsibilities.
- A chance to determine if this is the path you want to follow, before you invest in college – this is also beneficial to the parent, since they won’t have to spend thousands of dollars on a major that you may find out isn’t the best fit or the path you want to take
In a recent article from Business Insider on high school internships: Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of “Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success,” says early career building is incredibly important in today’s economy. “Students have to start building their careers in high school in order to better compete in the college admissions process, for college internships, and eventually full-time jobs.”
Finding an Internship
Now that you understand the benefits of obtaining an internship, where can you find one? More specifically, where can you find an internship that welcomes high school students? Let’s start with networking; according to CBS News: “Given the competition, you need to make actual contact with a human being to have a fighting chance. Can’t think of anyone? Here’s where cyberspace can help out: Tweet and post on Facebook: ‘I’d love to intern at Sirius Radio. Does anyone know someone who has worked or interned there?’ Your web of relationships is the single most powerful tool you have at your disposal when it comes to landing this job — and every other job you get for the rest of your life.”
When it comes to networking, your family connections and your school counselor can also assist you with your search. Whether your parent or school counselor knows someone personally who can employ you, or they have a connection within a specific organization that is looking for an internship; your personal connections can potentially offer a myriad of resources when it comes to networking and finding a valuable internship.
Realistic Internship Choices and How to Prepare
As we stated previously, today’s job market is competitive, so what are the best and most realistic internship options? Here are a few possible options you can explore:
- Government internships
- Non-profit organizations
- Local campuses
When it comes time to prepare, it’s important that you do all of your research and get familiar with the role you’re applying for and the organization that could potentially employ you. It’s also encouraged to practice your interview with a parent or school counselor so you feel more confident speaking to the position and how you’re qualified. Before your interview, ensure that you’re dressed the part; even if the work environment is more casual, it’s important to dress professionally so you make a solid first impression.
A Tip for Internship Success
Your high school junior and senior year are likely packed full of extracurriculars and advanced courses, so it may sound unrealistic throwing an internship into the mix. The best time to find an internship is in the summer; use your academic year to focus on your courses and the summer to focus on your internship and other activities.