Participating in an internship while in high school is a productive way to help you gain real world experience in areas you’re interested in.
Do you know what you want to do for a living when you get older? You might already have some conception of what your future life may look like, or you might still need to try some opportunities out first–and that’s ok too! While still in high school, experiencing opportunities like internships are a great way to gain insight into future careers, stand out on resumes and college applications, and learn more about your likes and interests.
What is an Internship?
An internship is an introductory work experience in a particular field for a set amount of time. Internships can range in length and hourly commitment, but commonly are 8-12 weeks and introduce students to their area of exploration in a variety of ways. Typically unpaid for high school students, interns exchange their time and effort with entry-level tasks for many benefits, which include the following:
Through internships, you can experience a career path you might have interest in. The internship will give you exposure to the potential skills, experience, job duties and environment in that particular field. You might find you love the career area of your internship and pursue further work or education in that sector. You will certainly see positives and negatives, but know that no job is perfect. Internships allow you to gain first-hand knowledge in areas that would typically require experience and education. This could help you figure out how to specialize in your job sector to best suit your needs. The only way for you to know is to try new things and see what you enjoy.
Of course, the most notable feature of these wonderful opportunities is the experience that internships provide. State-of-the-art facilities, like research labs, are often the location of medical internships where interns can see the location of a potential future work environment and get a glimpse into some of the daily happenings. Law internships can let interns into an office and, often, a courtroom where you can view firsthand proceedings and see how trial lawyers’ cases are done. Offices like Intel typically close their doors to the public and have high-level security surrounding the premises, but interns get a glimpse into the life of an engineer there. Living the life of the professional you aspire to be is the best way to understand if it interests you. Internships let you step into the real world and learn about advanced areas that your school, or even local university, might not be able to provide you.
Working side by side with professionals in a specific area, and seasoned interns who might have done the program or similar opportunities before you, is just another perk of the internship experience. In some cases college students or more experienced high schoolers might repeat the program if they enjoy it, or gain a leadership role and help lead you in your internship experience. Getting to know people in your area can not only help you right now, but finding like-minded people to work with or role models to assist you will help in the future, also. Networking can craft new opportunities, future internships or even open up work opportunities. With internships acting as a pipeline to the workforce, working for a company can open up a future at that business that you never dreamt of before. According to Forbes, paid internships turn into a job offer 60% of the time.
Finally, internships are an amazing addition to almost any application. Adding an internship to a college application shows you’ve put the time into exploring what you want to do. Not only do you stand out amongst peers who may not have had these opportunities, but you show commitment, dedication, interest, and a willingness to take extra steps that colleges look for in their student body. You walk into school more prepared than classmates and develop skills that can assist in your schooling and future work. In your future professional life, internships can help by sometimes leading to letters of recommendation for excellent work while on the job. Working up the ladder can help with career advancement, and the first step is securing that entry level position.
Crafting Your Application
So, you’ve decided you want to apply–that’s the first step! But what next? First, you have to look for an internship that fits your needs. You may consider applying to many similar programs to have a shot at a few, since the selection process is often competitive. Apply earlier rather than later to ensure you receive consideration, and submit quality materials on your application.
Typically, an internship application will request a resume, potentially a cover letter, and ask you to answer some questions relevant to the company. Those questions may include your point of view on certain areas important to the company, like core values or any previous experience in the area. If not required, you should still submit the cover letter and any optional materials on the form. Ensure you remain honest in your application, yet represent yourself in a good light by highlighting what you have already done. Don’t minimize your accomplishments or knowledge, but don’t overrepresent yourself. Pinpointing soft skills you’ve learned, using terminology from the application’s description, and making your application stand out from the crowd will make you a good candidate for opportunities. Apply earlier than later, and have at least one person review your application materials before submitting. And don’t get discouraged with a “no”. Even the experience of applying will help you for the future.
Internships are a great way to learn skills that will help later in life, meet new people with the same interests as you, explore and learn about a career area, and stand out on future collegiate and professional applications. Applying to an internship isn’t overly complicated, but requires some fine tuning to stand out from the crowd and secure yourself a wonderful opportunity that could shape your future life for years to come.