The start of the year is the perfect time for students to start planning their summer activities – especially those hoping to secure an internship. Starting early is important, as many programs have application deadlines in the spring, and, since internships for high school students may be limited, those positions tend to fill up fast. Now’s the time to get serious about your summer internship search!
Why Your Summer Plans Matter
Colleges like to know how students spend their free time, both after school and during the summer. Colleges also want to see students making meaningful contributions to their communities and exploring their interests in their free time. In most cases, admissions committees would much rather see you pursuing something you’re really passionate about, rather than sitting inside playing video games for two or three months. Colleges want to build well-rounded classes made up of specialists, and spending your summer engaged with your interests can help you become an expert in your areas of focus. Internships are a great way to gain insight into those fields of interest, learn if those are areas of study you want to continue to pursue in college and get a head start on your summer college prep.
Internships vs. Other Summer Activities
There are a number of ways that high school students can spend their summer break. Many may opt for a summer program at a college, a service trip, or continue their current after-school activities into the summer. So how do you know which type of summer activity is the right fit for you? You first need to determine what you want to get out of your summer experience. Are you looking to serve your community? Are you looking for more professional experience? Or do you just want to try something new? An internship is a good fit for a student who is looking for more specific insight into a particular industry or company and who hopes to gain valuable professional experience. Interns have the opportunity to see the day-to-day operations of a certain job or field and have access to professionals who can help guide and mentor them. Internships also allow students to gain certain professional skills they may not have been exposed to yet, like how to collaborate, communicate, and conduct themselves in a professional environment. Summer internships can provide a valuable working experience that a student might not otherwise gain while doing community service or another extracurricular activity.
Internships are especially valuable for students interested in STEM, as it’s one of the best ways to really show colleges an interest in a certain field. STEM interests tend to be so specialized that taking a few advanced courses and being part of an on-campus STEM club isn’t enough to deeply explore that field and show that it’s a specialty. Summer internships and research programs give high school students the opportunity to really delve deeply into certain STEM specialties and begin to become experts in that field.
How to Find Summer Internships for High School Students
Summer internships for high school students are easier to come by than you may think. If you do diligent research and outreach, you can find a number of opportunities that match your interests.
First, start locally. Just like when finding community service activities, it’s best to start by researching local organizations that match your interests and see what opportunities may be available. Identify a few organizations and companies of interest and reach out. Find out their needs and if there’s a fit for you and your skills. Many local organizations, especially those that serve students who are out of school for the summer, look for extra help during the summer break and they may have a spot for you. Also, reach out to large corporations in your area. Many big companies, like Microsoft, offer internship opportunities to high school students.
Here are some examples of internship opportunities that are local for New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut students.
- The Metropolitan Museum of Art- Summer High School Internships
- The Bronx Zoo- Project TRUE
- New York Historical Society
- The New York County District Attorney’s Office
- NYC Department of Youth & Community Development – Ladders for Leaders
If you’re having trouble finding something locally, expand your search. There are a number of internship opportunities, both paid and unpaid, that are open to students across the US. Many provide housing and transportation, while others require students to be responsible for their own accommodations. These internships, while valuable learning opportunities, are a big commitment. Students must be comfortable with staying in a new city for part or all of their summer break. Here are some examples of national internship opportunities.
- Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center Summer High School Internship Program
- Child Health Research Internship
- Internships at the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
- NASA Internships
Don’t forget to check out job boards for specific postings. If you find an internship, do diligent research to make sure it’s a good fit and the opportunity is with a reputable organization. Research is key to finding a great-fit summer internship, so take time to really explore all avenues.
If you’re still struggling to find a summer internship that matches your interests, IvyWise can help! With our internship consultation, we can help students identify programs of interest, and work to place them in relevant and exciting research opportunities and internships, including projects in computer science, genomics, math, engineering, social entrepreneurship, and more. If you’re interested in learning more about how IvyWise can help you find a summer internship, contact us today for more information!