Last Updated: Mar 28, 2017
The summer before my senior year, tensions were running high. Rising seniors were drinking Pepto Bismol by the cupful and opening Common Application accounts with lightning speed, preparing for the hellish journey they would soon have to undertake: the college application process.
But some of us had already made it past that point. We sat on the edge of our sweaty sofas, knee-deep in applications and picking at dripping Sprite cans as we pondered what to do next, the flags of our desired end goals stiffly fluttering in the gust of the meek overhead fan. Cornell, they proclaimed with pride. Harvard. UCLA. Yale. But how could we ensure we got there? How could we give our flawless applications just the tiniest bit of extra gloss, that desired X factor?
It came to me one morning, on a particularly scorching Florida day. I sighed, sat back, opened my laptop, and inhaled the information the Internet graciously provided me in terms of high school internships.
A few notes before we embark…
These tips are drawn from my own personal experience. Consequently, finding internships may or may not be either easier or harder when it comes to these approaches. However, they worked for me, so I’m going to pass on my knowledge to you now.
It should also be noted that my academic interests may have had a helping hand in my experience as well. I intend to study English in college, with an emphasis in creative writing, so of course I looked into more writing-based internships, and I was able to find many opportunities available. Depending on your interests, the amount of internships suitable for you may vary.
Finally, it should be said that one certainly does not need to start searching for internships this late in one’s academic career! This is the timeframe I began looking, but I have many friends who started on their internships earlier in their sophomore and junior years. It all depends on you!
Now, with that said, let’s get started, shall we?
Tip #1: USE THE INTERWEBS!
This one is a bit obvious, no?
The Internet is the starting point for every ambitious person (or, in our case, student). Thus, it would come as no surprise that it was here I first started. Brimming with optimism, I immediately opened up an Internships.com account, inputted my résumé information, and applied to a promising internship opportunity in my area as a pop culture journalist. All I knew then was that I wanted to write, and this internship would let me do that—and as a high school student too—so it was perfect!
I completed the application and hit “Submit.”
Not then, and not after, either. Hours became days, days became weeks, weeks became a month, and I still hadn't heard a peep from the company. I remember checking my application exactly one month later, only to find that the position had already been filled, without me being notified at all!
I was definitely downtrodden, but I refused to give up. I was going to make a name for myself online and eat up as much experience as I could by doing so. Payment wasn’t an issue, so long as I made it through!
Of course, I was still pensive about the process now that my sole experience had backfired. So, it was with caution that I applied to a science writing position at Quantumrun.com, a Canadian online publication focused on future global innovations. I sent in my résumé, and I thought that’d be it.
Not even 24 hours later, I was contacted by the human resources director for the publication. She was duly impressed with my résumé and wanted to interview me to see if I’d be a good fit for QR!
Long story short: I’ve published three articles with them now and have two being edited for publication as we speak! Working with QR has been a priceless experience, and I would never have gotten it if I had given up. It goes to show that hard work and determination are truly recipes for success, no matter if it’s intended or not. So don’t get discouraged if you don’t hear back from an internship; just keep on searching and applying until you find the right position for you.
Tip #2: Check your local resources
This one isn’t as immediately obvious.
If you’re like me and are a total biblio-nerd, see if your library is offering to take in interns. Or if your passions run in science, hospitals and college labs always need fresh young talent to further enrich the fields of STEM. Or if you code in your sleep, look into opportunities at local computer labs and companies.
Two of my friends intern at hospitals as nurse assistants, another two work at two separate animal shelters as veterinary assistants, and the salutatorian of my class interns at the state college as a budding computer engineer. How, you ask? They took the extra step in pursuing what they love and what was local!
I took a similar initiative. While it isn’t exactly an “internship,” a beloved college website of mine was openly calling for student writers. I immediately submitted my résumé in an applicatory e-mail, and a month later I was inducted onto the team. And now, I’m here, writing for you lovely students!
Tip #3: Ask around
You’d be surprised how effective this tip can be.
If one is really serious about one’s hunt for an internship, it never hurts to let others know! My friends and I told everyone we knew: our parents, peers, coaches, and teachers. When interest arises, it’s bound to circulate, and when that happens, opportunity can be found lurking right below the surface!
Take this example: one of my best friends was interested at interning in a lab, so he told a friend of his. The friend then told her father, who was an anesthesiologist, which landed him an internship working alongside medical professionals on the weekends. All this from a simple exchange of words!
For me, I remember chatting with my uncle about my need for a job, as I was completely broke at the time and wanted to earn a little dough for college next year. Instead, he surprised me by offering to take me in as his sales intern. Not only would I be paid, but I’d get to write memos and garner experience in a field slightly outside my comfort zone as well. Having recently completed my training, I look forward to what my future holds.
All in all…
There are boundless amounts of opportunity just waiting out there for students! All it takes is a little will, a little effort, and a whole lot of patience and determination, and you too may pave your path to success in the form of an enriching high school internship. You may be closer to doing so than you know!
What was your high school internship? How did you find it? Share with us in the comments! And read more internship advice in our Internships and Careers section.