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10 Best Summer Internships for High School Students

Thursday, July 20, 2023

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Do you already know what career you want, or are you still exploring your options? A summer internship is a great opportunity to gain work experience and leadership skills, network with professionals, and learn more about a career field you’re interested in — even if you’re still in high school.

How Important is a High School Internship for College Admissions?

You are not required to complete an internship in order to gain admission to college, but it can certainly give you a competitive edge among a field of highly qualified applicants. Not only will you gain professional skills such as communication, teamwork, time management, and problem-solving — which will help you with college admissions and future careers — but an internship also demonstrates your commitment to your field of study. You also set yourself apart from other applicants by taking initiative and building relationships. An internship can also help you find a purpose and clarify your goals, which also helps you stand out.

10 Internship Programs For High School Students

Interested in summer internship opportunities? Learning how internships work and what opportunities are available to you can open doorways to enjoying hands-on experiences and exploring your career options with programs like these — many of which are also available to college students. Just be aware of the application deadlines!


The Zuckerman Institute’s Brain Research Apprenticeships in New York at Columbia, or BRAINYAC, offers high school sophomores and juniors the opportunity to complete research projects during their summer break. In this program, students work in a laboratory under the mentorship of Columbia University neuroscientists to gain an understanding of how lab research leads to discoveries. Additionally, students are exposed to a professional academic environment and gain a stronger connection to science.

Before you can apply to get into Columbia University’s program, you must be nominated by one of BRAINYAC’s select partner programs or attend school in upper Manhattan or the Bronx.

Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Scholars Program

This program, which is administered by the Universities Space Research Association (USRA),  is for upper-level high schoolers who want to work with AFRL engineers and scientists on research projects. Scholars who are accepted into the program earn a stipend for their work, though the amount is based on the project the student is working on.

In order to participate, you must be a U.S. citizen 16 years of age or older with a valid government-issued ID — a background check is required. For a higher chance of acceptance, you should have a GPA of at least 3.0 and be in good academic standing. Interns must be willing to relocate to the physical work location and be available to work 40 hours per week. Students must arrange their own housing and transportation to and from the work site each day.


What does the AFRL do? 

The AFRL is dedicated to promoting interest and career development in STEM fields.

Can you do research in the Air Force? 

Yes! The engineers and scientists who work with the interns in this program are either active duty or civilians doing research for the Air Force.

GeoSciences Bridge Program

The Geosciences Bridge Program offers six-week paid internship positions for incoming college freshmen from underrepresented groups who are interested in working in geosciences. Interns work at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES) in Princess Anne, Maryland. The program includes housing in the dorms, meals, college credit for two courses, lectures, hands-on activities, and field trips. Students in the program learn atmospheric and ocean sciences as well as geographic information systems.

To apply, you must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident with a minimum 2.7 GPA and acceptance into an accredited U.S. college or university. Applicants must plan to major in a geoscience discipline. Interns are paid $500 per week and are reimbursed for their transportation costs to get to and from the UMES campus.

Microsoft Discovery Program

The Microsoft High School Discovery program is open to graduating, college-bound high school seniors who are interested in computer science and technology. Under the mentorship of Microsoft employees, interns develop professional skills and learn programming fundamentals. Students work full-time for the duration of the four-week program, which runs in July and August, and are paid for their participation.

To qualify, you must be at least 16 years old, have a legal right to work in the U.S., and live and attend high school within 50 miles of Redmond, Washington. You must complete pre-calculus or an equivalent course before the program starts.

Johns Hopkins Internship in Brain Sciences (JHIBS)

Application deadline: March 1 annually

In-Person Program 

This eight-week program recruits high school juniors and seniors who are interested in pursuing a career in science or medicine. Students selected for the program have the opportunity to work on a research project under the guidance of faculty, staff, and student mentors at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Neurology on the East Baltimore campus. Additionally, students can also join neurologists on their clinical rotations.

You can apply or be recommended for the program by school officials, teachers, or guidance counselors and must submit at least two letters of recommendation. To qualify, you must have a strong academic background, attend school in Baltimore City only, and meet one or more of these criteria for underrepresented populations:

Nationwide Virtual Program

A five-week virtual research program is also open nationwide to 10th and 11th graders from underrepresented populations as listed above — who must also submit two letters of recommendation. The virtual research program includes professional development workshops, mentorship training, college prep classes, laboratory techniques and experiments, scientific presentations, and networking opportunities. Virtual interns receive a $500 honorarium for completing the program.

NASA High School Internships

Application deadlines: Early March for the summer session, and early July for the fall session

NASA’s Office of STEM Engagement (OSTEM) offers internships to high school students for a number of agency projects. Interns work with the engineering or business teams under the supervision of a mentor. Internships for high schoolers are available at various NASA facilities in the summer and fall, with both virtual and in-person options.

To apply, students must be U.S. citizens and maintain a minimum 3.0 grade point average. Applicants do not need prior experience.


Who is the youngest intern at NASA? 

The minimum age to intern at NASA is 16.

Do NASA interns get paid? 

Yes! Interns are provided with a stipend depending on their level of education and the length of the internship session. However, NASA does not provide housing or transportation for students participating in in-person internships.

Is it hard to get a NASA internship? 

NASA internships are highly competitive, and the acceptance rate is roughly 5%. Your chances of being accepted are higher if you are a high achiever academically.

Met High School Internship Program

The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City offers two internship programs for high school students — one during the school year and one during the summer. To be eligible for either program, you cannot have completed a previous internship at The Met. You must also be able to make the time commitment to attend all sessions and have the consent of your parent or guardian. These paid internship programs allow students to work with museums, arts, and creative professionals while learning valuable professional skills.

The school year program is for high school sophomores and juniors who reside in or attend high school or home school in New York City. The summer program is for rising juniors and seniors who reside in or attend school in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut. Interns are responsible for their own transportation and housing if needed.


What does the Met look for in interns? 

According to their website, they are interested in “interns with diverse backgrounds and interests, who are excited about sharing their skills and ideas with other teens, Museum staff, and the communities the Museum serves.” Students are expected to bring their unique perspectives and strengths to the program and have an enthusiasm for learning — no prior experience or specific knowledge of the arts is required.

Stanford Compression Forum Summer Internship

Stanford’s summer research internship program is known as SHTEM, which stands for science, humanities, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These unpaid internships are open to high school students with an interest in completing fun research projects. In this eight-week program, students are grouped together to work on multidisciplinary projects in engineering, linguistics, psychology, technology, philosophy, design, biology, computer science, and more under the mentorship of Stanford Compression Forum students, faculty, and staff. Students give final presentations at the end of the program.

To be eligible, students must be at least 14 years old and a high school junior or senior. The internship is currently fully virtual, but this may be subject to change, so be sure to double check everything you would need to get into Stanford University’s SHTEM program, including any potential housing and transportation.


How many people get invited to Stanford’s summer session? 

This varies from year to year, but 60 students were accepted in the summer 2022 session.

What are the dates for most summer internships? 

The dates may differ each year, but the 2023 Stanford program runs from June 26 to August 18.

How much is the Stanford summer program? 

There is a $50 application fee, but there is no cost for the program itself.

Princeton University’s Laboratory Learning Program

High school students selected for this full-time, free program participate in ongoing research projects in either engineering or natural sciences under the supervision of Princeton faculty and research staff. Internships typically last 5-6 weeks, and each research project operates on its own schedule.

This program is open to U.S. citizens, legal permanent residents, or international students ages 16–17 attending a U.S. high school. Recent high school graduates who have not turned 18 by June 15 may also apply. There are no exceptions to these age limits, so be sure to double check cutoff dates when researching how to get into Princeton’s program.

Most of the participants come from the local area because they are responsible for their own housing and transportation. Participants are required to complete safety training before starting laboratory work and write a two-page research summary at the end of the program.

Plant Genome Research REU

The Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI) in Ithaca, New York, offers high school research internships that allow students to explore plant science and computational biology. No prior lab experience is required. The program lasts for seven weeks and is open to students who are at least 16 years old, are not graduating high school seniors, and live within a reasonable daily commute to Cornell University. Selected students receive a $4,000 stipend.

Interns in the program work with at least one research mentor, typically a grad student or post-doc researcher, and a member of the faculty. Students may take field trips or participate in training. Every Wednesday, the high school interns participate in professional development lectures and discussions with undergraduate interns. The program concludes in August with a scientific symposium, which allows students to present their accomplishments.

Planning a productive summer? Whether you’re looking into an internship or other extracurricular activities that will enhance your college application, expert guidance is available. Schedule an Initial Consultation with an IvyWise counselor today to see how we can help you find internships and other opportunities that are a great fit for your interests and goals.


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