Nov 2, 2015

2016 summer internships for high school students

While colleges increasingly emphasize the value of “experiential” or “hands-on” learning within their own communities, high school students are discovering real benefits in setting aside time during their high school careers for internships or other similar work experiences.

In fact, they are finding that internships provide amazing opportunities to gain significant work experience while exploring long-term career options. But these opportunities usually don’t magically appear. You have to plan ahead and set aside time. Sometimes this means giving up school breaks or part of your summer.

And believe it or not, now is the best time to begin forming plans for next summer.

Although college students usually stand at the front of the line for internships, businesses and nonprofit organizations are increasingly holding positions open for students currently in high school or those transitioning to college. But make no mistake—these positions are getting increasingly competitive.  And many application deadlines are coming significantly earlier than in past years.

It may take advance planning and persistence, but opportunities are out there.
Why intern?
Going through the internship application process teaches much-needed job search and employment skills. Preparing a resumé, asking for recommendations, landing an interview, and understanding what it means to be a responsible employee are all skills that give high school students a huge advantage in college and beyond.

And it’s no secret that internships strengthen college applications, as these opportunities introduce students to career fields or potential majors and reinforce valuable research or lab skills. 
An internship helps students understand how a professional organization functions in the real world. While learning and working, interns have the opportunity to refine career goals. In fact, a summer internship can serve as a “trial period” to test ideas about professions and industries—entertainment, nonprofit, technology, health—without making a long-term commitment.

The opportunities can also potentially lead to award-winning science fair projects, journal articles, or patents.

Where are the internships?
Businesses and organizations sometimes have formal internship programs designed specifically for high school students. For the most part, these programs do not offer housing and are usually limited to students able to commute or living in the immediate region. 

For example, here a few of the many organizations making internships available to high school students in the Washington, DC area:
For a great list of opportunities outside of the DC area, check the webpages maintained by the Rochester Institute of Technology for high school students, including one dedicated to “Special Interest Groups.”
Note that some of these are “salaried” positions, some have stipends, and some are strictly volunteer.  Again, they are all highly competitive, and some deadlines may already be past.  So make note for next year.
Be aware that many organizations don’t advertise the availability of summer internships. This is when you have to do a little investigative work on the internet and through other kind of public job listings. Use your networks—parents, relatives, family friends, teachers—anyone who may have contacts in businesses or organizations of interest to you.
Even if you feel like you just got back from the beach, it's really not too early to begin thinking about next summer.  An internship, particularly for students at least 16 years of age, is a great way to get to know yourself a little better while building skills that will make you competitive for the future.

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