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20 STEM Internships for High Schoolers

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Why wait until college to start doing internships? Now more than ever, organizations are actively searching for high school talent to help them with important research and project development initiatives. Heads up: many of these are even paid opportunities, which means your summer job could be the first step in your future career!


Why Do Internships in High School?


There are so many reasons that starting internships in high school can give you a competitive edge for both college and future careers. Here are just a few of the top reasons to look for an internship:


Gain relevant industry experience. Although other experiences, such as volunteering and traditional part-time jobs, help you develop important soft skills that you can take to any job, internships show you what it takes to succeed in the industry you’re interested in. STEM internships in particular will often allow you to focus on developing your logical and analytical thinking skills, solve problems, and acquire skills such as research, data analysis, or coding.


Connect with professionals in your field. Many of the internships below pair you with a mentor, who not only guide you through some of the tasks you may be unfamiliar with, but they can share their educational and professional journey with you. You can ask them about what to do in your high school years to prepare for success in college and in your anticipated career.


Strengthen your resume or portfolio. Internships count as a form of work experience, and they might catch the eye of future employers or college admissions counselors. Not only that, but the life experiences you have during an internship could provide you with rich material for an engaging admissions essay.


As you can see, there are plenty of reasons to get an internship, and the best news is that many of the internships listed below are paid opportunities, so you can even earn money while you pursue your passion.


20 STEM Internships for High Schoolers


This list should get you started, not only by helping you identify the right types of internship for your interests, but also what to expect from STEM internships in general.


1. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)


Becoming a NASA Intern is a highly competitive process, where you’ll have the chance to work on cutting-edge research and receive mentorship from current NASA employees. Internships can be completed during the Fall, Spring, or Summer, and spaces for high school students are limited to select centers.


To qualify, you need to be at least 16 years old and have a 3.0 GPA on a 4.0 scale (or an unweighted 3.0 GPA). You can apply here, and you’ll need to make sure you have a strong letter of recommendation.


2. National Institute of Health


This internship will allow you to work side-by-side with NIH biomedical researchers for eight weeks over the summer. You can also choose to complete one of their subprograms: the first is called HiSTEP, and it’s geared towards economically disadvantaged students in Virginia, Maryland, and D.C. to provide an introduction to STEM and leadership development. HiSTEP 2.0 is an option for HiSTEP graduates and general high school students in the Bethesda area.


For the general NIH internship, you’ll need to be at least 17 years old by June 15 of the year of your internship, and you’ll need to live close to one of the NIH campuses:


  • Bethesda, MD
  • Baltimore, MD
  • Frederick, MD
  • Research Triangle Park, NC
  • Hamilton, MT
  • Framingham, MA
  • Phoenix, AZ
  • Detroit, MI


Interns receive a stipend for their work, and you can apply here. The application opens in mid-December each year and closes on March 1.



3. NSA High School Work Study


This program allows high school students to earn a salary over the summer and into the school year by fulfilling office roles at the National Security Agency. If you have experience in computer programming, you may be assigned the role of a Computer Aide, where you’ll have the chance to learn how to work with the NSA’s state-of-the-art data processing equipment.


To be eligible, you’ll need to be a junior in high school, have an unweighted GPA of 2.5 or higher, and have a background or interest in business, engineering, or computer science. You also need to live near one of the following sites:

  • Ft. Meade, MD (Headquarters)
  • Aurora, CO
  • Augusta, GA
  • San Antonio, TX
  • Oahu, HI

Applications are open from September 1 through October 31 and can be found here (when applications are available). Students will need to apply online and submit their supplementary materials by mail.


4. Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP)


This paid engineering internship targets high school students interested in conducting research over the summer. You’ll be working for eight weeks at a participating Department of Navy laboratory. There are opportunities available in the following states:


  • Arizona
  • California
  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Hawaii
  • Indiana
  • Maryland
  • Mississippi
  • New Jersey
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Carolina
  • Virginia
  • Washington
  • Washington, D.C.


To be eligible, you need to be at least a sophomore and 16 years old at the time of application. You can apply online here starting August 19.


5. Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory


For high school seniors living in the Princeton area, you may be able to participate in a project-based internship at the Plasma Physics Laboratory! This internship requires you to collaborate with your high school to create a schedule that allows the internship to count for credit and accommodates your internship project needs.


This is a semester-long internship You’ll need to be at least 16 years old and be a senior during the semester you’re applying for. The deadline for Fall internships is April 30 and the deadline for Spring internships is November 30. Apply online here.


6. Idaho National Laboratory


Get paid to work directly with a mentor at the Idaho National Laboratory! This laboratory is the Department of Energy’s national leader in nuclear energy, although they also contribute to other research areas such as national security and and environmental science.


You’ll need to be at least 16 years old to apply and be prepared to commit to a full-time schedule over eight weeks in the summer. The application closes on June 3, and you can apply here.


7. Spark Summer Internship Program


Spark is an organization that provides STEM enrichment opportunities to students in Seattle, Washington, and among those programs are internships with several partner companies. Their partner companies focus on computer science, with opportunities to work on software, mobile app development, and web programming.


The exact requirements vary depending on the partner organization, but there is one common application. The application deadline is April 14, and you can apply online for up to three organizations.


8. Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program


If you’re more about science rather than engineering, then this paid internship and mentoring experience is perfect for you. This program is available anywhere that the American Fisheries Society has active members who can serve as mentors. You’ll work side-by-side with professionals to see firsthand what science is like in the field.


To be eligible to apply, you must be a junior or senior in high school and complete the application during the open period. The application opens on December 17 and closes on February 15. Internships take place over the summer, and you are generally placed at a site within commuting distance.


9. National Cancer Institute


Get an inside look at healthcare research with an internship at the National Cancer Institute. As a scientific intern, you’ll develop the foundational skills needed to complete biomedical research and have a designated mentor who can share their educational and professional experiences with you.


To be eligible, you need to be a junior in high school at the time of application and be at least 17 years old by the start of the program in June. You also need to have an unweighted GPA of 3.0 and the Hepatitis B vaccines. Start your application by creating an NCI account and then filling out the internship application when it becomes available in October.


10. Introductory College Level Experience in Microbiology (iCLEM)


While not as traditional of an internship, this is an 8-week paid summer intensive that is designed for economically disadvantaged high school juniors and seniors. It is held at the Joint BioEnergy Institute, and in it students will gain skills in advanced scientific topics like microbiology, biochemistry, and biofuels as they work on a research project alongside JBEI researchers and undergrads.


This opportunity is open to sophomores and juniors living in Alameda, Contra Costa, or San Francisco counties in California, have a 2.5 GPA or higher, and passed Algebra 1 and Biology.


The application will be open starting January 24 and is due by March 21. To receive notifications about the next cycle, fill out this form here.


11. Maine Space Grant Consortium


If you are a junior who lives in the state of Maine, you’re eligible for this six-week STEM internship. The internship varies depending on the host organizations, which are located across the state of Maine. You can find the full list of organizations here.


Applications open in the fall and are due on January 31. You’ll need to have a high GPA to qualify, such as a weighted GPA of 4.0 or higher, and you can find a sample application on the website above.


12. Careers in Science Intern Program


If you live in San Francisco and are from an underrepresented group in STEM, then you might want to become a paid CIS intern! CIS Interns work at the California Academy of Sciences facility in Golden Gate Park and not only help scientists conduct field studies, but they also teach the public about science and receive professional development through workshops and conferences.


To be eligible, you must be in 9th or 10th grade and enrolled in a SFUSD school, have and maintain a 2.5 GPA and earn Cs or higher in your math and science classes. Applications are open at the link above from February through April, and you’ll need to complete an interview. It is a significant time commitment as well, so make sure that you are comfortable dedicating two or three years to this experience!


13. Aspiring Scientists Summer Internship Program


Housed at George Mason University, students work on research projects alongside university faculty in virtually every scientific discipline. You’ll receive 7 to 9 weeks of full-time training and mentorship (depending on when your school year ends or on mentor and student agreement). While this is an unpaid opportunity, it is one of the few that allows you to experience both work and the college environment


To be eligible, you need to be at least 16 years old and demonstrate an interest in STEM. You should have a strong GPA and participate in extracurriculars at your high school. Opportunities are available at the following campuses:


  • Science and Technology (formerly Prince William): Manassas, VA
  • Fairfax Campus: Fairfax, VA
  • Potomac Science Center: Woodbridge, VA


You can learn more about the application process on their website. Next year’s applications will open in November or December.


14. National Institute of Standards and Technology


Students interested in scientific research can receive an unparalleled experience with NIST. This 8-week unpaid internship allows high school students to gain the skills they need to find success in STEM careers. Since you need to provide your own transportation, it’s best if you live near either the Gaithersburg, MD facility or the Boulder, CO facility.


This opportunity is available to current juniors or seniors, or students who will be rising seniors or recent high school graduates at the start of their internship experience. Learn more about the application process by visiting the NIST website.


15. Animal Care at the San Diego Zoo


If you’ve dreamed of working at a zoo, then this is the internship for you! This paid summer internship allows you to experience what it’s really like to work at a zoo as you learn how to care for the zoo animals and even teach zoo guests about the importance of conservation.


16. National Eye Institute


The National Eye Institute has two summer internships open to high school students (age 17+) through graduate students and medical or professional school students.

The internships take place in Bethesda or Rockville, Maryland and last 8 to 12 weeks. 


17. Los Alamos National Laboratory High School Internship Program 


The High School Internship Program (HSIP) allows qualified northern New Mexico high school seniors to gain job experience while learning skills, and it exposes them to various career fields. Internships in STEM and other career areas are available (for example, administrative, business, operations support, etc.).


Students must satisfy the following conditions to enroll in the High School Internship Program: Have senior standing and be at least 16 years old when the internship begins. Have a minimum overall GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale Maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.0 or higher


18. Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility: J-Lab High School Summer Honors Program


The Summer Honors Program at Jefferson Lab, a public high school in Savannah, Georgia, recruits high school students to work in scientific or technical fields for eight weeks.

According to the site, to be eligible to participate in the JSA/Jefferson Lab High School Summer Honors Program, you must attend a local high school (within 60 miles of Jefferson Lab), be at least 16 years old by program start date, be in good academic standing, and maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average.


19. Buck Institute for Age Research Summer Scholars Program


The Buck Summer Scholars Program allows undergraduate students to investigate aging’s fundamental molecular and biological causes, as well as the translation of that knowledge into new treatments that extend lifespan. Summer Scholars will study disease-related aging research, such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, macular degeneration, heart disease, and diabetes. Each Summer Scholar will be in charge of his or her own research project under the supervision of a scientific mentor.


This scholarship is available to undergraduate students. The 2022 Buck Summer Scholars Program is open to students who are currently enrolled in an undergraduate program or those who graduated within the fall, winter, or spring terms of the 2021-22 academic year.


20. J. Craig Venter Institute Internship Program


The JCVI Program is a highly coveted opportunity that aims to mentor and inspire future generations of exceptional scientists. The typical program is held over the summer and consists of a dedicated mentor, collaboration and networking with world-class scientists, hands-on involvement in research projects suited to their academic experience, access to state-of-the-art equipment and technology, and a judged poster presentation for enthusiastic high school (18 or older), undergraduate, and graduate students.


How Do Internships Impact Your College Chances?


Once you clear the academic threshold at selective colleges, your extracurriculars can be just as important as your grades. This is because there are so many academically-qualified candidates that admissions officers turn to activities and essays to see which students stand out and may be the best fit. 


Admissions officers rate a student’s extracurriculars based on their impressiveness and uniqueness. Each activity can generally fall into one of four tiers, with Tier 1 being the most outstanding (i.e. a national award). An internship may fall into Tiers 1-3, depending on how selective it is. 


To see how your activities stack up, use our free chancing engine. It’ll help you classify your extracurriculars into tiers, and let you know which aspects of your profile need improvement. You’ll be able to go into college admissions much more prepared as a result!


For more posts on exciting extracurriculars, check out these posts below:


Short Bio
Gianna Cifredo is a graduate of the University of Central Florida, where she majored in Philosophy. She has six years of higher education and test prep experience, and now works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She currently lives in Orlando, Florida and is a proud cat mom.