An internshipship is an opportunity to work in a field that interests you, gain valuable work experience, enhance your college resume, and possibly even earn some extra money.
While internships are more commonly available to college students, it may be possible to get an internship when you’re still in high school.
Read on to learn more about high school internships, including how they work, their pros and cons, and how to find one.
What Is the Purpose of an Internship?
An internship is a temporary position that’s often related to a student’s academic field of study or career interests. It offers students a chance to apply lessons learned in the classroom in a professional setting, while also developing additional skills. Internships also give students an opportunity to make connections in their field of interest and determine if they want to pursue further study and a career in that area. Internships also give employers the opportunity to discover and develop future talent.
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The Duties of an Intern
The duties of an intern vary from job to job. For example, those interning at a doctor’s office might shadow medical professionals and take notes on patient visits. Those interning at a marketing firm might sit in on marketing meetings and assist in any communication needs.
An internship experience can be somewhat similar to an entry-level employee position. However, there is typically an educational component. The point is to learn more about the career path, not just get coffee or file the office mail (though you may be asked to do this, too).
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Pros and Cons of High School Internships
There are plenty of pros when it comes to getting internship experiences in high school. For one, an internship allows you to learn about a particular career path without having to commit to a lifelong job.
Learning about a path early on could help you determine whether you want to go to college (rather than directly enter the working world) and help you decide what you’d like to study in school.
Another pro of completing an internship in high school is gaining new experiences and skills. An internship allows you to learn from professionals and add relevant skills to your resume. This can give you a leg up in applying for jobs in the future.
And, of course, all this experience and new learning make for excellent items to add to any potential college applications.
A potential downside to seeking an internship in high school is that they can be hard to find. In addition, the position may not be paid, and might be time-consuming, taking time away from other obligations like homework, studying for SATs, and applying to college.)
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Finding the Right Internship
Finding the perfect internship is a wholly personal experience. A good first step is to consider your interests in both the near and far term. By thinking about career paths you might be interested in, you might identify internship opportunities around you.
However, not every young person knows, or believes they know, exactly what they want to do in the future. But you may have a general interest. For example, if your favorite class is English, an internship at a local newspaper may make sense. If you’re interested in nature, an internship with a local parks and recreation group may make a good fit.
If you’re a high schooler, make a shortlist of interests and sit down with a parent or guardian to identify careers that may fit within these bounds.
Next, it’s time to identify a few companies you might be interested in interning with. Search around for companies near you that may be taking interns. From there, check out career pages on the individual companies to see if they have internship listings. If they don’t, try emailing the company to get in touch with the human resource (HR) department to see what may be available.
One quick tip: While researching and reaching out about internships, make sure to stay realistic about the time commitment. If an internship takes place during the school year, you may only be available in afternoons. Ensure the hiring manager knows the hours you’re available before committing to any long-term work.
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Resources to Find Internships in High School
While there isn’t any centralized listing location for internships for high school students, there are still plenty of places to find information on opportunities.
Schools: You can reach out to school resources like guidance counselors, principals, and individual teachers who may know of companies worth looking into.
Individual companies: Again, seek out information from company websites and reach out to human resource departments to see what may be available.
Job search websites: Check out job search websites, such as Linkedin and Indeed, and search for “Internships in [specific field here].” Make sure to search by location to ensure the internship is nearby.
Friends and family: This is the simplest tip — just ask around. Friends and family members are the ultimate social and work network. Make it known you’re looking for an internship and ask people for their advice on just where to look.
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Questions to Ask Before Accepting an Internship
After figuring out your interests, asking your network, and finding an internship opportunity, you may think the work is done. However, there are still a few more questions to ask.
Before accepting an internship offer, make sure to ask about the full details. What are the hours? What can you expect to learn while on the job? What are the specific job duties and how will you be evaluated along the way? Will there be opportunities for mentorship? And finally, one of the most important questions: Is the internship paid?
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Paid vs. Unpaid Internships
Scoring a paid internship isn’t a guarantee, but it’s not a completely far-fetched idea either. If a paid internship isn’t available, you can always ask about an exchange for class credit. Unpaid internships are a hotly contested issue so just make sure to do whatever feels right and comfortable for your situation.
Also keep in mind that even a paid internship likely won’t pay enough to make a major dent in your college expenses (though it can help).
If you’re concerned about how you and your family will pay for the cost of tuition, a good first step is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) with your family. This will let you know if you are eligible for financial aid, including grants, scholarships, work-study, and federal student loans. If those do not cover your costs, you may also consider private student loans.
Private student loans are available through private lenders, including banks, credit unions, and online lenders. Rates and terms vary, depending on the lender. Generally, borrowers (or cosigners) who have strong credit qualify for the lowest rates.
Keep in mind, though, that private loans may not offer the borrower protections — like income-based repayment plans and deferment or forbearance — that automatically come with federal student loans.
If you’ve exhausted all federal student aid options, no-fee private student loans from SoFi can help you pay for school. The online application process is easy, and you can see rates and terms in just minutes. Repayment plans are flexible, so you can find an option that works for your financial plan and budget.
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