How to Find an Internship In High School
You may already know an internship can be a leg up in the admissions process—real world experience looks great on your application, and can help you figure out a major in the first place. But where to find a gig?
Of course, sites like Vault are great for finding posted jobs--but your dream company might not have any posted. Or maybe all the internships you're finding say "must be enrolled in an undergraduate program."
Perhaps you just were hoping for something a little more personal, a little less formal than the three day, 20 hour a week mass-posted internships.
Then it's time to take matters into your own hands.
The good news is, aside from job boards, there are plenty of ways to find—or create—great internship opportunities. And since you'll be reaching out personally instead of applying through a job board with hundreds of others, your chances of standing out and landing an interview are much higher.
First, do your research; you'll need to have an idea as to what you're looking for in an internship if you're ever going to find one. Assuming you've already figured out what you'd enjoy doing, you'll be looking for internships that incorporate those things. vGo online and research the industry you're interested in: read about the history of the industry, as well as recent news. Good places to start search are nonprofit organizations and professional associations within the industry, since their websites often have historical information as well as news summaries.
Once you're armed with industry insights, it's time to start looking for a position.
Many internships are found by word of mouth. Talk to your teachers, coaches, co-volunteers or managers, tell them you're thinking about an internship in a particular industry and would like to get their advice. These people may be able to help your search by offering guidance, sharing their personal experiences and perhaps connecting you with professionals who have internships to offer. Moreover, these people know you and can speak to your character and work ethic, so they are good people to ask for a reference, too.
If you've asked around and figured out exactly where you'd like to intern, it's time to do more research (see a theme here?). Learn about the companies or organizations where you'd like to intern. You can even contact professionals at the organizations directly to gather information, and this new connection can often lead to an internship.
Approaching someone to talk about their experiences or organization is very similar to actually applying for a position. Send an email or written letter to the person, with your resume enclosed. The introduction letter is often the first time the reader will learn about you, so it's important to put your best foot forward. It may seem daunting to contact someone you've never met before; but keep in mind that people do it all the time, so don't be shy.
Most of the cover letter consists of talking about yourself and your past experiences. It's where you describe what volunteering you've done, any part-time jobs you've had, what student clubs or teams you’re on, and what classes you've taken. When you talk about what you've done, make sure to focus on your role within the club or organization and any accomplishments—personal as well as club-wide. When talking about your accomplishments, think about them in these categories:
- Leadership experience
- Problem solving
- Making money/saving money (since this is high school, we like to think of this in terms of innovation and efficiency)
Introduction letter how-to When writing a cover letter, start by reading sample letters and templates. You can find templates on Vault.com, as well as on college career center websites. Career center websites are great resources because they are geared towards student applicants and also offer a great opportunity to learn more about a school's resources. In general, here's a step-by-step guide to a simple introduction letter:
Paragraph 1: Start by saying who you are and why you're writing. You want to be clear and straightforward. Also include a line about how you learned about the person you're writing or position you're applying for—if you were referred by someone, mention him or her here. Finish the paragraph with why you're interested in the person you're contacting and his or her organization. In cover letters, interest is very important, so you want to show you've done your homework, so include an example or concrete reason why you're interested.
Paragraph 2: The overall goal of this section is to highlight your qualifications. Talk about your past experiences that are relevant to the organization and person you're contacting. The reader has your resume to see all of your experiences, so make sure to focus on only what is applicable. You can talk about specific classes, community service projects, with attention to leadership experience, problem solving, innovation and efficiency. Use concrete examples that tell a short story about why you would fit in at the organization. By choosing only relevant experiences, you will also show the reader that you understand what an internship entails.
Paragraph 3: Short and sweet. Thank the person you're writing, give your contact information, and let him or know you'll be following up with a phone call or email later on in the week.
Cover letters don't have to be too personal or detailed. Basically, one should make a case for what you have to offer and why you want to use your skills at that particular organization.
If you write a great introduction letter and make a connection with the reader, and you're often well on your way to getting an internship—even if the company doesn't have a formal program!
But before you send anything, ask a teacher or parent to read over your letter and offer suggestions. There may have been something you missed or you may have included too much (you want to leave the reader wanting more). And always proofread!