It’s common knowledge that an internship program during and after college is an essential part of most majors. Internships give you the experience you need to begin working at a paying job during and after college. They allow you to gather the years of “prior work experience” many careers require before you even get your degree. However, did you know you can (and should) get an internship in high school too?
Of course, these internships won’t just fall into your hands, you will have to work to obtain them. You will need to provide evidence you have the qualities to be a good intern and helpful to whoever you intern with. Check with your school to see if they have any ideas for internships that have to do with a career you hope to pursue. You can also call around yourself to see if any businesses would hire you as an unpaid intern!
Sometimes high schoolers avoid internships as they are not usually paid a salary, and instead spend their time working at a common high school job like being a waiter or working as a cashier. This is completely understandable, and often unavoidable, as many students need money to save for a car or college expenses. However, it is important to at least consider the many benefits of an internship and consider lightening your work schedule just slightly to make room for the unmeasurable benefits that come with interning.
- College applications! Potential universities will be overjoyed to see you went out of your way to gain experience for your future career goals before you even entered college. The majority of high school students don’t pursue internships, so you will stick out to universities just for completing an internship!
- See what career fields interest you! Internships allow you to trial different career fields before you even declare your major. If you’re interested in becoming a vet, call your pet’s veterinary clinic and ask about unpaid internship opportunities. If you’re interested in business, call a family friend who’s an insurance agent and ask if they need a little extra help over the summer. Use internship opportunities to weed out career fields that previously appealed to you, but you realized didn’t actually interest you once you got hands-on experience in that profession.
- Network! Internships are a wonderful way to market yourself in your career field before you even enter college. Networking is one of the primary functions of interning, so why not start meeting the right people before you even get to college? You never know which conversation will lead you to your dream college, a large scholarship, or even more internship opportunities.
- Build your resume! Working at a fast food place won’t encourage future employers to hire you, but helping out at a graphic design company will. Consider the effect of receiving money from a paid high school job versus receiving invaluable experience when interning.
- Learn workplace professionalism! The communication, teamwork, and leadership skills you use in a professional setting are quite different from the ones you use with peers. You will be working with many different types of individuals for the rest of your life, and internships are a good way to learn how to communicate with all of them.