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Nick Vidal
9 Internships

18 High School Internships in Chicago in 2023

What’s Covered:


Gain work experience. Discover a new career. Explore the possibilities. Boost your college admissions profile.


These are all benefits of undertaking an internship. Many college students and graduates participate in these opportunities to hone their skills and prepare for entry-level jobs. But if you’re lucky, you can find one in high school.


To help you out, we’ve rounded up 18 of the top internships open to high school students in the Chicago area!


18 Best High School Internships in Chicago


1. Adler Planetarium Summer High School Internship


Application deadline: TBA in February 2023

Duration: usually around 8 weeks (details to be announced)


Fascinated by the stars? In this summer internship program, you’ll explore different professional planetarium and museum roles, ranging from Visitor Experience and Learning to Research, in order to learn about the Adler Planetarium and the career opportunities within it.


The Planetarium has additional programs for youth, such as Far Horizons Teens, Youth Leadership Council, and Youth Organization for Lights Out.


2. After School Matters Programs


Application deadline: Specific deadlines to be announced (Summer applications open mid-March; Fall applications open late July; Spring applications open late November)

Duration: 6-7 weeks in Summer; 11-12 weeks in Fall and Spring


After School Matters provides more than 26,000 program opportunities to more than 18,000 teens in Chicago every year. Internships at external organizations are open to teens who are at least 16 years old (18 in some cases). The organization helps teens secure paid positions with a wide variety of employers, such as camps, museums, arts organizations, and corporations, with the ultimate goal of helping teens develop job skills and learn about different career paths.


3. Art Institute of Chicago Teen Council


Application deadline: Applications open in June; interviews take place in July

Duration: about 9 months (September – June)


Members of the Art Institute of Chicago’s Teen Council are part of a group of 15 creative high school students that work to design programs and resources to make the Art Institute a more welcoming, accessible, and relevant space for Chicagoland youth.


Previous Teen Council projects have included teen art exhibitions, teen museum overnighters, teen parties, and a teen audio guide. Join the Teen Council to help produce the next big project for teens at the Art Institute!


4. Art Institute of Chicago Summer Internship


Application deadline: Applications open in March; interviews take place in early May

Duration: about 3 months (June – August)


For students who are passionate about art, an internship at the Art Institute of Chicago is an ideal opportunity. Interns collaborate with peers to assist with workshops, gallery tours, and workshops, all while exploring the museum’s comprehensive collections, meeting local artists, and building critical job skills.


Students must be at least 16 years old by the start of the internship and can apply through After School Matters.


5. Brookfield Zoo King Conservation Science Scholars Program


Application deadline: Rolling basis (the program has 4 seasonal sections)

Duration: variable, but King Scholars are expected to participate for at least 30 hours in a calendar year


Interactive workshops, fun activities, research, and community-based projects are at the core of this exciting internship. It’s an excellent opportunity for students who love animals and also want to gain leadership and career skills.


As a King Scholar, you’ll learn about different topics through Foundation Courses, such as Diversity Awareness and Introduction to Conservation, all while networking with others and preparing for college and careers. After one year of participation, you’ll be invited to apply for scholarships and paid positions at the zoo.


6. The Chicago Academy of Sciences Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum Internships


Application deadline: variable (there are 4 seasonal sections)

Duration: varies by season, but typically 180 hours total


The Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum was founded with the mission of connecting people with nature and science. That mission persists today, as the museum offers immersive exhibits, conversations, research, and more. The museum offers different types of internships during each of the four seasons, so be sure to check the website linked above for details.


NB: Education requirements are not specified, but you must be at least 18 years old to be considered.


7. Chicago Philharmonic Summer Internship


Application deadline: details available on request

Duration: variable, but the internship occurs during the summer months


The Chicago Philharmonic is the perfect place to learn about and engage with the world of the arts. Each summer, four talented high school students in Chicago are selected to participate in this paid internship, in which they receive mentorship and training in areas like marketing, development, and community engagement. Interns also work with professional musicians and even get the opportunity to perform alongside members of the Philharmonic and chamber ensembles.


NB: Applicants must be at least 16 and enrolled in high school, as well as play an instrument.


8. Chicago Summer Business Institute Summer Internship Program


Application deadline: Applications open February 2023

Duration: 6 weeks


Formerly the Chicago Summer Finance Institute, the Chicago Summer Business Institute was founded in 1991 with the mission of introducing high school students to financial services through paid internships.


Each week for six weeks, interns spend four days at work sites, participating in projects at banks, law firms, and accounting and engineering firms throughout the Loop and business districts. They also participate in seminars once a week to combine theory with practice.


9. Lincoln Park Zoo Malott Family Zoo Intern Program


Application deadline: Applications open February 2023

Duration: 7 weeks (usually from early July to mid-August)


Here’s another internship for animal lovers! Through this paid seven-week program, high school students learn how to educate others about animal and conservation sciences while crafting digital messages to engage audiences. The program culminates in a final project. Throughout the internship, students meet with researchers and the Animal Care staff to explore careers in the animal science and conservation fields.


Applicants must be 15–18-year-old Chicago residents and must be entering grades 10–12 or their freshman year of college by the start of the internship.


10. Museum of Science + Industry Farrell Fellows Summer Internship


Application deadline: TBA

Duration: around 6 weeks (late June to mid-August)


Through MSI’s Farrell Fellows Summer Internship, Chicago-area teenagers learn about science and develop important skills like public speaking and leadership. In the past, interns have created and performed original shows, led hands-on experiments with visitors, and conducted activities with younger kids. The six-week paid experience encourages students to serve as role models for children and to teach them that science is fun!


11. QuarkNet Summer Research Program


Application deadline: January 31, 2023

Duration: 7 weeks (June 20 – August 4, 2023)


High school sophomores, juniors, and seniors with a strong interest in STEM have a unique opportunity to work with scientists on research projects during this paid seven-week program at Fermilab (located near Batavia, IL, just outside of Chicago). Interns are assigned to projects based on their own interests as well as project availability.


Required application materials include a questionnaire, a letter of recommendation, and an essay.


12. Kendall Smith Healthcare Exploration Scholarship


Application deadline: TBA in February 2023

Duration: 6 weeks


Are you a high school junior or senior who is interested in a career in healthcare? If so, you may be eligible for the Kendall Smith Healthcare Exploration Scholarship. This scholarship provides selected students with a stipend to spend six weeks during the summer exploring one chosen area of healthcare in a hospital setting. Students participate in the program by preparing and delivering a summary of their hospital experience to visitors and staff.


13. Fermilab’s TARGET Science and Engineering Program


Application deadline: usually early February annually

Duration: 6 weeks


The TARGET program is a six-week summer internship opportunity for high school sophomores and juniors in Illinois who are interested in and have shown an aptitude for physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering. The program’s design combines both work and experiential learning.


TARGET aims to increase the representation of groups that are underrepresented in STEM, including African Americans, Latinos/as, Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, American indigenous people, and women. The program’s objective is to encourage students, especially students in these groups, to pursue higher education and jobs in STEM fields.


14. UChicago Medicine – Chicago EYES on Cancer


Application deadline: January 23, 2023

Duration: 2 years (two 8-week summer research intensives plus monthly activities during the academic year)


Chicago EYES (Educators and Youth Enjoy Science) on Cancer is a cancer research training program for high school and college students interested in careers in biomedicine. For two consecutive summers, participants receive a stipend and work full time in the laboratories of established cancer researchers at the university.


Besides being trained in research, participants will partake in a cancer-based summer lecture series, year-round career development and skill-building workshops, and meetings with a network of faculty and peer mentors dedicated to participants’ success. The program ends with a final research symposium.


15. UChicago Medicine – ResearcHStart


Application deadline: January 23, 2023

Duration: 8 weeks (generally from the second full week of June to first week of August)


ResearcHStart participants receive a stipend and work full time in the laboratories of established cancer researchers, gaining hands-on experience in areas at the forefront of the field—cancer immunology, bioengineering, experimental cancer therapeutics, cancer disparities, and more.


The program introduces students to cutting-edge cancer research and promotes career opportunities in the field, while granting students knowledge in biophysics, biochemistry, immunology, and pharmacology.


16. UChicago Data Science Institute Summer Lab Program


Application deadline: February 12, 2023

Duration: 10 weeks (June 12 – August 18, 2023)


The Data Science Institute Summer Lab Program is an immersive ten-week paid summer research program at the University of Chicago. In the program, high school and undergraduate students are paired with a data science mentor, drawn from one of various scientific domains.


Participants will hone their research methodology, research practice, and teamwork skills. No prior research experience is required to apply. All participants will receive access to applied data science research, which they will use to craft a research project. The project findings will be presented in a video that will be shown at an end-of-summer symposium.


17. Future Founders “Be Your Own Boss” Internship


Application deadline: varies by cohort—February 7 for the first cohort, April 7 for the second cohort, May 19 for the third cohort

Duration: approximately 3 weeks (February 20 – March 15, 2023 for the first cohort; April 18 – May 11, 2023 for the second cohort; May 30 – June 22, 2023 for the third cohort)


Be Your Own Boss is a three-week paid internship that gives students the opportunity to explore the world of startups, network with professional entrepreneurs, and build community with peers from different backgrounds—all while working to create and pitch their own startups.


18. The Rotary Club of Chicago’s JOB1 Summer Internship Program


Application deadline: TBA in January 2023

Duration: 8 weeks


The JOB1 Summer Internship Program prepares 11th- and 12th-grade students in Chicago for the workplace by providing job readiness training as well as substantive paid summer internship opportunities with local businesses and not-for-profits in the Chicago area.


Students must be at least 16 years of age and must attend three job training programs sponsored by the Rotary Club of Chicago. 12th-grade students have the opportunity to secure up to a $2500 college award!


How to Find an Internship




As you head into the career world, you’ll discover that many opportunities are not advertised, but are rather found through word of mouth. To set yourself up for success, you’ll need to start building your network now. Connections can come from practically any facet of your life—family, teachers, guidance counselors, friends, coaches, mentors, and so on.


Start asking around early, and remember that even if someone doesn’t have a concrete opportunity at a given time, they might know of something later on. That’s why it’s also a good idea to stay in contact with people. They might think of you when opportunities do arise.


Think local…


Look into local businesses, which might have unadvertised opportunities. Moreover, a small local organization that isn’t in the market for an intern might be willing to give a student at a nearby high school a chance, perhaps because of a mutual contact or another connection. Consider actually going into these brick-and-mortar locations—it’s harder to turn people down in person.


…But also look at national programs


There are also national programs and organizations to consider. You’re more likely to find them by looking online, searching for particular niches like STEM, education, journalism, or certain demographics. Just bear in mind that these programs are probably more competitive than local ones.


Create a LinkedIn account


If you don’t have a LinkedIn account already, now is the time to create one. This is a critical networking tool that can potentially land you career opportunities without any effort on your part, other than building and maintaining your profile. Right now, you probably only have your education and extracurricular activities, and possibly some jobs and other internships, but as you grow in your career, you can expand your profile further.


Looking for internships beyond Chicago? Check out CollegeVine’s resources for finding and landing internships, plus lists of opportunities across niches.


How Do Internships Affect College Admissions?


Participating in internships can influence your chances at college admission, but this depends on many factors, including the scope of the internship, its prestige, your individual role and performance, the institution’s connections to or sponsorships by certain colleges, and even how much weight a college places on extracurricular activities in general.


There are four tiers of extracurricular activities that colleges think about when reviewing applicants’ activities. Selective, competitive, and prestigious activities are often found in the top tiers, Tier 1 and Tier 2. Tier 1 includes things such as being a highly recruited basketball player or an award-winning national science fair competitor. Tier 2 is similar, but is usually reserved for activities that are more common than those in Tier 1. Tiers 3 and 4 are reserved for more common extracurricular achievements, such as holding school leadership positions or being a member of a debate team.


A prestigious, selective program such as the Chicago EYES on Cancer offered by the University of Chicago, for example, may be considered a Tier 1 program by many other colleges.


Do you want to get a sense of how the internship you participated in might change your admissions chances at your dream college? CollegeVine has created a free chancing calculator to estimate your odds of getting into hundreds of different colleges and universities! It uses a multitude of factors such as your high school grades, standardized test scores, and extracurricular activities, while also providing feedback on how you can improve your odds.

Nick Vidal
Blog Writer

Short Bio
A graduate of NYU, Nick majored in psychology and minored in data science. He lives in New York, where he enjoys writing essays and music.