Kate Sundquist 5 min read Extracurricular Activities, Internships

14 Awesome Internships for High School Students

Want personalized (and free) advice while applying to college?

We’re building a free college guidance platform for high school students like you! This means we’ll let you know exactly what and when you should be focusing on things like extracurriculars, college essays, standardized tests, and more. Sign up now to get early access to our platform and get guidance applying to college!

At some point in your high school career, you’re probably going to start considering an old childhood question a little more seriously. What do you want to be when you grow up? And, if you’re like most high school students, the answer still isn’t crystal clear. That’s alright, and in fact, it’s 100% normal. The good news is that there are plenty of ways to explore your interests and various career fields before you take the leap and commit to a certain program or college major.

 

Internships are a great way for high school students to gain work experience, learn about professional opportunities, and network within career and academic fields. In this post, we’ll describe what an internship is, how it usually works, and why you should consider one. Then, we’ll offer a list of 15 great internships you might consider as a high school student.

 

Want to know your chances at the schools you’re applying for? Calculate your admissions chances right now and understand your odds before applying.

 

What Is an Internship and How Does It Work?

 

An internship is essentially an introductory work experience in a professional career field. It is sometimes paid, though usually at the lowest end of the pay scale, and it is sometimes unpaid. The function of an internship is to gain experience and insight into a certain field while also performing some functional work in exchange for the experience. For example, if you get an internship in a research lab, usually you will not jump right into hands-on lab work. Instead, you’ll start with things like cleaning the lab and entering data into spreadsheets. While this might sound tedious, it will also give you the opportunity to connect with the people who work there, learn about the day-to-day functioning of the worksite, and give you an idea of whether or not a career in this field might be of interest to you.

 

Before you commit to an internship, you should always make sure that you are clear on the expectations. Have a good understanding of the time commitment, the length of the internship, the responsibilities, and whether or not you’ll be receiving anything in exchange. Some unpaid internships might offer other perks like free classes at related institutions, travel reimbursement, or even housing. You should also be certain you understand your responsibilities and that you’re comfortable sticking with them, even for little or no pay. Ultimately, an internship is not typically about earning money, but more about gaining experience and networking in a specific field.

 

Internships are a great way to break into difficult career fields. For students who want to gain experience in research, medicine, law, or other professions normally requiring an advanced degree, and internship is a way to gain some insight and experience without the commitment of a degree. You will learn about the field and forge important connections with people who might ultimately write you a recommendation or even offer you a job. If you have the time, an internship is a great opportunity to explore.

 

14 Great Internships For High School Students

 

United States Secret Service

An internship with the US Secret Service provides you with valuable experiences while allowing you to contribute to one of the most elite law enforcement organizations in the world.

 

BRAINYAC

A BRAINYAC is a program offered through Zuckerman Institute’s Brain Research Apprenticeships in New York at Columbia University and connects high school students with scientists for intensive summer lab internships including hands-on experience.

 

Air Force Research Library Scholar Program

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Scholars Program offers stipend-paid summer internship opportunities along with valuable hands-on experiences working with full-time AFRL scientists and engineers on cutting-edge research and technology.

 

Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program

The Hutton Program is a paid summer internship and mentoring program for students high school juniors and seniors interested in pursuing science disciplines associated with natural resource and environmental management.

 

GeoSciences Bridge Program

The Geosciences Bridge Program is funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation and is a 6-week paid internship through which graduating high school seniors study and participate in hand-on activities in marine geology, physical oceanography, atmospheric science, marine biology, marine chemistry, biogeochemistry, and remote sensing/GIS.

 

Plant Genome Research REU

Undergraduate and high school summer internships at Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), Cornell University, and the USDA provide an excellent opportunity to gain research experience and explore if a scientific career in plant science research and bioinformatics is a good fit.

 

Production Assistant Intern

Through the Wanderlust Council, select students at the Now Boarding Corporation have the opportunity to learn about the various benefits of cultural education, study abroad education, and local and international travel education while being involved in non-profit video research, the audio and video production of videos, photos and social media assets, and the editing of photos and videos.

 

Naturalist/Field Research Intern

In association with the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Young Ecologist’s Training Institute (YETI), is a project-based summer program designed to allow students to engage in field-based scientific research on the 20,000-acre Edge of Appalachia Preserve System (EOA).

 

Student Research Internship Program at the Scripps Translational Science Institute

The Scripps Translational Science Institute (STSI) offers a Student Research Internship Program for highly motivated high school students. Interns work with and learn from a multi-disciplinary team of scientists who include internationally-renowned investigators in the areas of genomics, bioinformatics, and digital medicine.

 

New-York Historical Society’s Student Historian Program

Interns use the resources of New-York Historical to conduct exciting research and share their scholarship through creative projects. Interns meet with professional staff to learn about careers in the museum, library, and history fields; work collaboratively with fellow students to develop their public speaking and leadership skills; and engage in hands-on work to deepen their understanding of American history and art.

 

Microsoft High School Internship

In Microsoft’s high school internship program, students will learn a lot about the world of computer science and programming. Microsoft internships are geared toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) students, so if you were thinking of pursuing a degree in one of those fields, Microsoft is the place for you.

Want to know your real chances of admission?

Our free Chancing Calculator not only takes into account your academic profile, it also measures other elements admissions officers look at, such as your extracurricular activities. We'll let you know what your chances are at your dream schools — and how to improve your chances!

The Expanding Horizons Internship

Offered through the Constitutional Rights Foundation, the Expanding Horizons Internship provides first-generation, college-bound high school students in the Los Angeles area with an intensive experience of skill development and personal growth that prepares them for college, career, and civic life. The EHI program begins with interactive seminars in the spring and concludes with a paid summer internship at a prestigious law firm, corporation, government agency, or non-profit organization.

 

Smithsonian Internship

The Smithsonian offers a wide variety of internship opportunities ranging from centrally funded opportunities that place interns throughout the Smithsonian to specific opportunities available at each of the Smithsonian’s various museums, research centers, and other units. Participants can find roles in art history, business and administration, museum conservation, and much more.

 

The Library of Congress Internship

There are many internship opportunities available at the Library of Congress and they range in focus from the Geographic Information Science Program to the Young Readers Center Program and the Manuscript Division.

How can a highschooler find an internship?

Internships are a smart way to network, gain experience, and test the waters in professional career fields. The internships listed above represent a broad variety of career interests and ambitions, but there are many other potential internships out there.

Want to find the best internship for your goals? Through our Early Advising Program, we’ll help you discover internships and extracurricular activities to boost your profile while providing access to practical advice on topics from college admissions to career aspirations.

 

To learn more about internships, check out these CollegeVine posts:

 

Why You Need to Gear Up Now for Summer Programs

Tales From the Expert: How to Get that Ultra-Competitive Internship

How To Make Yourself Employable As Early As Possible — And Why It Matters

Summer Activities for High Schoolers in New York City

The Ins and Outs of Pre-College Internships

How Do I Get An Internship?

Want more tips on improving your academic profile?

We'll send valuable information to help you strengthen your profile and get ready for college admissions.


Kate Sundquist
Senior Blogger at CollegeVine
Short bio
Kate Koch-Sundquist is a graduate of Pomona College where she studied sociology, psychology, and writing before going on to receive an M.Ed. from Lesley University. After a few forays into living abroad and afloat (sometimes at the same time), she now makes her home north of Boston where she works as a content writer and, with her husband, raises two young sons who both inspire her and challenge her on a daily basis.