Quality student internships provide an unparalleled entry-level introduction to the adult work environment. Are you seeking the most awesome internships for high school students or other summer high school internships? Check out these top 20 internship opportunities for high school students, below!
First, let’s get to the bottom of some commonly asked questions about high school student internships.
Are internships paid or unpaid?
It depends! Some internship positions pay by the hour, some offer a one-time stipend, and some are unpaid. A company’s choice to compensate interns comes purely with experience. In other words, with an internship, you trade your time and effort for input and guidance.
Understandably, these arrangements don’t work for every student. When you’re searching for potential internship positions, “paid or unpaid” is one of the questions you can investigate. In the end, you must determine what’s best for you. If that information isn’t easily available, try to see if you can connect with any past interns to find out.
Why else are internships for high school students helpful?
One of the foremost ways to excel in college admissions is to “walk the walk.” For students, this means demonstrating through your actions and where you spend any free time that you genuinely care! While there are many ways to approach this, here’s a critical hint: internships are a great piece of the pie!
Paid or not, internships are a tried-and-true way for students to explore and investigate whether their idea of a career holds true in real life. That way, you’ll know more fully about what tasks your job (and future major) will entail on a day-to-day basis. This maturity and vision can set you apart from weaker candidates in the college application pool.
In order to succeed in your student internship, ensure that you prepare yourself for your first day. That means clarifying expectations, showing up on time, and embracing new experiences. Don’t be afraid to volunteer to collaborate with your coworkers and peers; with luck, you can even develop the beginnings of a professional network with these connections.
The college admissions strategy: internships and externships
If you’re considering internships, you’ll also want to know about externships. These are internships’ little cousins—in other words, shorter-term projects (more akin to job shadowing) that provide a different perspective on the workplace. Investigate which options are available to you, and what type of interaction you think will be most beneficial! For those of you short on time (as many ambitious high school students are), a shorter commitment may be appealing.
Hopefully, by this stage, the short-term benefits are clear. Yet in general, how do these semi-professional experiences contribute to your overall college application profile?
Not only can they enrich your resume and demonstrate your commitment to activities over time, but they can also help to enhance your application in a variety of ways, whether it be your essays, your resume, or any other aspect of your student profile. Primarily, try to focus on how you can learn and contribute your past experience from these internships (or externships) to your community or teams. Nonetheless, while you do, you never know what your hard work may reap. Whether you stick with one activity or intern at many different places, you’ll be learning about yourself and adopting new talents and accomplishments along the way.
How competitive are these internships?
It’s true; in addition to selecting internship opportunities you qualify for, you’ll also have to weigh your odds of acceptance (if that information is available). For instance, some internships have extremely low acceptance rates—as low as some of the Ivy League institutions’ freshman admit rates!—while others will be quite open.
Whether it surprises you or not, the truth is clear: some of these internships are indeed highly competitive. Of course, it varies by program, company, and student—but when it comes down to it, these are valuable opportunities for high school students, and the “best of the best” will be seeking positions along with you. Not only that, but your team will hold you to a more professional standard and treat you as a young adult in the workplace. That doesn’t mean you should hold off from applying to these; rather it’s essential to put your best foot forward!
When should teens start preparing applications for fall, spring, or summer high school internships?
Always, you can start sooner than you might think! For instance, for summer high school internships, your best bet is to get going during the winter months. It’s never a bad time to review your application materials, and/or start planning for the future months.
How to recognize great internship opportunities for high school students
While the internet claims that potential internships for high school students are abundant and ready for picking, not all internships are equal. Varying quality means that some opportunities are better designed than others in terms of educational and pedagogical value, experiential learning, and hands-on skills.
The best options excel because they value the student experience and provide quality outcomes. Students feel satisfied with the process from start to finish. Avoid internships that only allow interns to file and do paperwork, as you likely won’t learn much there.
Top 20 Internship Opportunities for High School Students
This program places high school students in Department of Navy (DoN) laboratories, where they take part in real Naval research for eight weeks during the summer. SEAP gives academically talented students interested in STEM the opportunity to learn about Naval research and technology while receiving first-class mentoring by top scientists and engineers.
This group offers internships throughout the year that are geared toward current and recent students. Applicants should be highly motivated, creative, and hard-working individuals with an interest in all aspects of arts management. It is preferred that applicants have previous office experience, strong organizational skills, effective writing and communication skills, computer literacy, and the ability to learn quickly and take initiative.
An affordable and accessible way for students looking to take their science education to the next level and bolster a college resume. Participants design and create an original research project while being mentored by a professional scientist. Students see through the project from conception to publication by conducting field research and learning how to analyze their findings. Students complete the program with a finalized research presentation and a formal research paper that will be submitted for publication.
4. The Zuckerman Institute’s Brain Research Apprenticeships in New York at Columbia (BRAINYAC):
This program prepares today’s youth to become tomorrow’s scientists. BRAINYAC provides high schoolers with an immersive, hands-on summer research experience in a Columbia laboratory. We emphasize opportunities to connect with real scientists, learn key skills required to work in a research environment, and join the Columbia University community.
The High School Involvement Partnership (HIP) mentoring program was created to inspire and prepare high school students for science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) pathways to fill the future workforce need for diverse innovative leaders.
The Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program is an eight-week paid summer internship and mentoring program. It is run by the American Fisheries Society (AFS). Our vision is to stimulate interest in fisheries and aquatic science among underrepresented groups in the profession today. Participating students receive a $3,000 stipend and an all-expense paid trip to the Hutton Scholars Summit (location for 2023 TBD).
Are you interested in Data Science? The Stanford Compression Forum (SCF) is a partnership between academic and industrial leaders in the fields of Data Compression. The Forum’s mission is to facilitate research and collaborations, expedite the transfer of academic research into technology, supply academia with timely research problems, and support learning and training in the field of compression.
This is a life science research institute located on the Cornell University campus. Scientists at BTI conduct investigations into plant and life sciences research with the goals of increasing food security, improving sustainability in agriculture, and making basic discoveries that will enhance human life. Every year, the Boyce Thompson Institute hosts local high schoolers to take part in research within one of their labs. These high school researchers are involved in the daily research taking place and get a snapshot into the world of plant science research.
An eight to ten-week program that offers volunteer opportunities to students currently enrolled. Students who participate in the program will gain educational experience in their field of study or career interest and will develop personal and professional skills. ED offers internships in the fall, winter or spring, and summer. Depending on circumstances, program opportunities may be reduced or changed.
This famous museum offers internship programs in a variety of fields. They “provide interns with meaningful professional learning experiences.” What’s more, they “ensure interns supportive opportunities for growth and inclusive access to the advancement field through mentorship.”
L.A. Times High School Insider’s paid summer internship is an immersive professional learning opportunity. Young journalists can experience the day-to-day life of a professional journalist. The program aims to teach students core journalism fundamentals and multimedia skills while exposing them to a professional work environment and mentorship at the Times. Applications open every May.
This program, offered by the Office of the Librarian, is designed for individuals interested in working with primary sources. Participants are expected to have strong research and writing skills. This year’s program is currently offered in a hybrid format with students attending virtually and in person. This is an intensive 4-week unpaid summer internship, during which you will work with the Center for Learning, Literacy, and Engagement. Students develop and create content to support the new participatory learning space for youth and families.
MMoFA offers internships in all academic subjects and academic levels to qualifying high school, college, and graduate school students from around the world. Internships are unpaid yet offer numerous perks and benefits. MMoFA is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Institution and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age, disability, or veteran status in its programs or activities.
NASA internships, fellowships, and scholarships leverage NASA’s unique missions and programs to enhance and increase the capability, diversity, and size of the nation’s future STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce.
The Internship Program replaces the Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) and Student Temporary Employment Program (STEP). This program is designed to provide students enrolled in a wide variety of educational institutions, from high school to graduate level, with opportunities to work in agencies and explore Federal careers while still in school and while getting paid for the work performed. Students who successfully complete the program may be eligible for conversion to a permanent job in the civil service.
The Met offers paid opportunities for students in grades 10 and 11 or obtaining an equivalent degree. This program allows students to connect with art, museums, and creative professionals as they develop skills, network, and gain work experience. This internship experience is not limited to young people who have a passion for art! The High School Internship Program allows you to connect one-on-one and in small cohorts with Museum professionals in a number of related fields, including editorial, marketing, social media, education, and more. You have the chance to find the intersection of your interests as you gain insights from peers and professionals.
The Civic Innovators Fellowship is designed for young leaders who have innovative ideas to solve community issues – and want to start building them now. The Fellowship gives you the knowledge, network, and funding to pursue your passions and launch projects that change the world.
At the Adler, we believe in the natural curiosity and visionary leadership of Chicago’s youth. We strive to create a welcoming space for personal growth and scientific experimentation. The Adler Planetarium provides opportunities for young people to engage deeply with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math). In addition, we prepare for a variety of careers, act as community thinkers and change-makers, and meet peers from across the city all while having fun!
The Laboratory Learning Program is a full-time, free research experience in the sciences or engineering for high school students. Students are included in ongoing research programs where they are closely supervised by Princeton faculty and research staff. The participation dates are customized according to the schedules of the research personnel and the specifics of the project. Internships typically span 5-6 weeks over the summer. Each research opportunity has its own schedule.
Open doors, explore careers and stand out in college applications. Designed to give high school & college students the opportunity to explore careers, develop professional skills, work with globally-minded companies and strengthen their resumes.
Also, consider Empowerly Research Scholars Program (RSP):
Contribute to our collective global knowledge base with your research. Make a striking and lasting impact – help develop a new antibiotic or computational algorithm or create a new way to structure investments. Our Research Scholar Program offers students the opportunity to work one-on-one with a Ph.D. mentor to produce an independently-developed research project.
Don’t be afraid to enlist the help of a college counselor in your internship application process. On top of all that research, you’ll need to submit resumes, CVs, cover letters, and even sample work left and right to meet the various deadlines. Working with a professional can save you time and energy that you can spend instead on what matters most: your performance.