How to Land an Internship: A Guide for High School Students

High school students are often looking for summer jobs to make some extra cash or give them something to do over the summer. While most people think of college students or recent college graduates when they think about internships, high school students can benefit a great deal from taking on a summer internship and employers are also experiencing advantages by hiring high school students as interns. Rather than spend a summer flipping burgers or babysitting the neighbor’s kids, high school students can and should look for an internship that will benefit them both now and in the future.

Importance of Internships

Internships are designed for individuals with little to no experience in a field. They are a great way to immerse yourself in an industry or career field to learn, explore, and grow both personally and professionally (and even academically). Since experience is not a prerequisite to gaining an internship, motivated and driven students are excellent candidates and perfectly qualified for most internships. The main point and the ultimate goal behind an internship is to gain experience. High school students who want to learn how to land an internship will show employers that they are self-starters, knowledge-driven, and confident, even if they know nothing about a field or have any relevant training. One of the most important parts of an internship is to see if a career field is a good fit for a student. Is this industry or job something he or she could see themselves working in later in life? Is it as interesting as they once thought? School counselors and even professionals in the field can only give you so much information about the daily workings of a particular career, so being an intern in that field is the best and most effective way of actually learning about a possible career interest. Another benefit of internships is learning how to function in a professional environment and how to conduct yourself like an adult. Knowing how to interact with professionals, bosses, co-interns, and more is a huge part of success in any job, and learning those interpersonal skills are best learned at a young age. If you’re interested in learning how high school students can land an internship, know that taking the initiative to ask about an internship is a huge part of landing it. Show that you have drive and you’re halfway there.

What to Expect from an Internship

What you do during an internship and what you get out of it depends entirely on the individual internship. Some are paid and some are unpaid, some are part-time and some are full time, and some are short term while others are long term. In most cases, the responsibilities of an intern are similar to those of an entry-level employee at the company or organization. You may be making or answering phone calls, filing papers, delivering mail, or any other related administrative jobs. You may also do more career-specific things, like give tours, assist with research, or sit in on meetings. While the primary goal of the internship is for you to learn and gain experience, you are also expected to contribute to the company, meaning you’ll have specific tasks assigned to you that you are expected to complete well and promptly.

Tips on How to Land an Internship

Now that you know the basics of an internship and what to expect during it, it’s time to learn how high school students can land an internship. Here are our top tips on how to get that coveted internship.

Consider Your Interests

Since the main goal is to get experience and determine if a particular career field is right for you, you want to ensure you’re finding an internship in an industry you’re interested in. Think about what you love doing and what you could see yourself doing in the future. You may already have your heart set on a specific job or career field, or you may have no idea what you want to do later in life. Either way, think about things that you enjoy and your skillset, and begin your search in those areas.

Ask Your School

School counselors often have personal and professional connections with companies looking for interns. Ask your counselor if they know of any opportunities, either in a particular field or just in general, and contact their sources directly. If a counselor can’t give you any leads or you are simply looking for more opportunities, talk to any teachers, coaches, or administrators who may be willing to help. Especially if you’re interested in a career field that is related to a particular academic subject, your teachers may be the personal connection you need to find and land that perfect internship.

Contact a Company Directly

If there is a specific local company that you feel like you would love to work for, reach out to them directly and inquire about internships. Even if they don’t have anything posted or public, showing initiative and an interest in their company may be enough for you to get an internship there. If you want to be a writer, contact the local newspaper or a magazine in your area. If you want to work in IT, reach out directly to the nearby computer repair company. Even if you hear of or see a listing for an internship, part of learning how to land an internship is about taking the initiative and going directly to the company themselves rather than relying on just submitting an application.

Search the Internet

This may be your first step in knowing how to land an internship, depending on your personal connections or how helpful your school is. Do an internet search for internships in a particular field or just in your area and see what comes up. You may also benefit from looking up specific companies and searching their job postings.

Talk to Neighbors and Friends

Your neighbors, your parents’ friends, and your friends’ parents are a wealth of personal connections. Any adults you know, particularly those in the field you’re interested in, may be able to offer some information or connections that can help you get an internship. Especially if you have a personal relationship with any of these adults, you may even benefit from a referral letter or having them ask their boss about your application, leading to even more likelihood of you landing that coveted internship.

Prepare a Resume

This may seem like a little overkill, especially for an unpaid or part-time internship, but having a high school resume will only benefit you and show your potential employer that you have initiative and motivation. You can look up some examples of high school resumes, but you’ll need to include your education (possibly including your GPA), any jobs or volunteer experience, extra-curricular activities, achievements or awards, and any relevant skills or hobbies. Bringing a resume to an interview, even if they don’t require or ask for one, says a lot about you as a person and how you’ll be as an intern, and it can only benefit you in the long run.