10 High School Internships in Chicago

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

 

These are all benefits of undertaking an internship. Many college students and graduates participate in these opportunities to ramp up their skill sets 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 10 top internships open to high school students in the Chicago area.

 

10 High School Internships in Chicago

 

1. Adler Planetarium Summer High School Internship

 

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

 

The Planetarium has additional programs for youth, such as Team Stratonauts, Youth Leadership Council, and Astro-science Workshop.

 

2. After School Matters

 

After School Matters provides more than 26,000 program opportunities to more than 18,000 teens in Chicago each 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, toward the goal of helping them develop job skills and learn about different careers.

 

3. Art Institute of Chicago Summer Internship

 

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 artists in the area, and building critical skills.

 

Students must be at least 16 years old by the start of the internship. Applications open in March of each year.

 

4. Brookfield Zoo King Conservation Science Scholars

 

Interactive workshops, fun activities, research, and community-based projects are the core of this exciting internship. It’s an excellent opportunity for students who love animals and want to gain leadership and career skills. In order to participate in the internship, you must be willing to complete 100 volunteer hours.

 

You’ll also 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.

 

5. Chicago Academy of Sciences/Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum

 

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

 

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

 

6. Chicago Philharmonic

 

The Chicago Philharmonic is the perfect place to learn about and engage with the arts world. Each summer, four talented students are selected to participate in this internship, where they receive mentorship and training in areas like marketing, development, and community engagement. Interns will also work with professional musicians and even have the opportunity to perform along with 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.

 

7. Chicago Summer Business Institute

 

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, students spend four days at work sites, participating in projects. They also participate in seminars once a week to combine theory with practice. The opportunities are paid. 

 

8. Lincoln Park Zoo Malott Family Zoo Intern Program

 

Here’s another internship for animal lovers! Through this paid, four-week program, high school students learn how to educate others and craft digital messaging 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 animal science and conservation.

 

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9. Museum of Science + Industry Farrell Fellows Summer Internship

 

Through MSI’s Farrell Fellows summer internships, 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 five-week paid experience encourages students to serve as role models for and teach children that science is fun!

 

10. QuarkNet Summer Research Program

 

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 six-week program at Fermilab (located in Batavia, IL, just outside of Chicago). Interns are placed on projects based on their own interests and the project availability.

 

Application materials include a questionnaire, letter of recommendation, and essay. The application period is February 15–March 12 (2021), and the program takes place during the summer.

 

How to Find an Internship

 

Network

 

As you head into the career world, you’ll discover that many opportunities are not advertised but 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 so they 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, too. You’re more likely to find them by looking online, searching for particular niches like STEM, education, journalism, or particular demographics. Just bear in mind that these programs are probably more competitive.

 

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 could 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, along with, perhaps, 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 Much Do Internships Impact Your College Chances?

 

Depending on their rarity and prestige, extracurricular activities are divided into four tiers. Tier 1 encompasses the most impressive and unique extracurriculars, while tier 4 encompasses the most common extracurriculars seen by admissions committees.

 

Having a few tier 1 or 2 extracurricular activities can help you stand out during the admissions process, especially if you’re applying to highly-selective schools. While internship rankings vary per program, highly selective and well-regarded internship programs can certainly fall into tiers 1 or 2. 

 

If you’re wondering how your internship can impact your admissions odds, use CollegeVine’s free chancing engine. This tool will factor in your extracurricular activities, such as internships, along with your GPA, test scores, and other factors in order to determine your chances of acceptance at hundreds of schools across the U.S. You will even receive tips on how you can improve your profile.

 

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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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