Internships For High School Students
Why shouldn't you just wait until college to start applying for internships? Well, the fact that so many of your peers ask this question makes this your golden opportunity to distance yourself from the pack. Administrator Kino Ruth of Hamilton College advises, "Any real-life work experience, including volunteer work/community service, is certainly of great value in admissions." Scoring an internship will give you a definite leg up on the competition when applying to your college of choice, plus it might help narrow your choice of majors, as you'll already have some work experience under your belt. Sounds great, right? But now you have to figure out how to get your foot in the door, and it isn't as hard as you might think.
First off, you need to prioritize exactly what kind of company or organization you want to work for. What are your interests? What do you want to major in? What do you think you want to do after college? It's OK if you're not entirely sure; however, if you're interested in a specialized program, such as an undergraduate business school or architecture program, you should look for internships in that area.
Luckily for you companies across the country are beginning to open up more internship opportunities to high school students. Companies like Microsoft offer specialized internships, and plenty of local government, engineering, legal and medical organizations often retain high schoolers for unpaid internships over the summer.
Once you have decided which companies to target, start by sending your resume and a cover letter to a specific person at the company. Some companies have a specific contact for internships. Otherwise, send your resume to human resources and/or a manager in the area you'd like to work in.
Your cover letter should discuss your interests, what you're studying, what you hope to study in college and how this internship would help advance your career aspirations.. Be sure to tell them why you think you'd be a great intern - your interest in the field, your commitment to doing a good job, your discreetness (no one wants their inter-office politics to leak out), and your enthusiasm. Show particular knowledge of the company in your letter.
Many professional organizations have begun to list internship programs on their web sites, making it easier for you to find out about them. The Vault Guide to Top Interships is a good place to start.
Top internships for high school students
Some examples of companies and organizations that have specialized high school internships include:
Sciences and Engineering:
US Department of Energy
Locations: Across the United States
Each summer, 365 U.S. high school students are selected to attend the DOE's High School Science Student Honors Program. Two week programs are normally held at seven DOE laboratories: Argonne National Lab, Brookhaven National Lab, Fermi National Accelerator Lab, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, Oak Ridge National Lab, and Pacific Northwest National Lab.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Locations: AL; CA; FL; MD; MS; OH; TX; VA.
Deadline: Varies with program.
There are at least 200 different programs open to high school interns, including work in robotics, biomedicine, earth science, space propulsion and satellite communications.
Locations: Fairfax, VA; Irving, TX; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, OK.
Ackerman McQueen is an advertising agency that specializes in food, outdoor and recreational products, technology and national associations.
Levine Communications Office
Locations: Beverly Hills, CA; Las Vegas, NV; New York, NY; Washington, DC; London.
Levine specializes in representing celebrity clients and former interns are regularily placed in PR departments throughout the entertainment industry.
American Society of Newspaper Editors, (ASNE)
Location: Across the United States Deadline: Rolling
The web site lists 54 newspapers, major urban dailies as well as smaller, local papers, that accept high school interns across the country.
American Management Association
Location: New York, NY
Deadline: Spring and Fall: Rolling; Summer: April 7
Interns gain experience in training and development, human resources, general management, marketing and market research
United States Department of Commerce
Location: Washington, DC
The department promotes and protects America's economic growth and international trade. There are a total of 17 different agencies an intern can be placed in within the department.