Because April is Internship Awareness Month, we’re focusing on the importance of internships and how to prepare for them as a high school student!
What is an Internship?
Edgewood College Career Development defines internships as a “form of experiential learning that integrates knowledge and theory learned in the classroom with practical application and skills development in a professional or community setting.” So, let’s break that down. Experiential learning is learning by doing. Instead of learning through lectures and assessments in a classroom setting, students can gain the skills they need to successfully enter the workforce by directly working with companies that relate to the students’ future desired careers.
Internships can vary significantly depending on employer preferences. For example, some internships are paid, while others are unpaid because employers believe that the experience gained is adequate compensation. Additionally, internships look extremely different across every field and at each company. An internship with a finance company may consist of working in an office updating Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and filing reports. An internship with an event planning company would be more likely to consist of visits to restaurants to plan catering and trips to flower shops to purchase arrangements. Some companies choose to work in person and others are completely remote. Remote internships will use alternative forms of communication like email and Zoom. Some internship roles will change often. For instance, one day, the intern may be responsible for simply observing meetings, the next day, the intern may be working on an assignment. On the other hand, some internship roles stay the same; the intern may be hired to complete a specific project and will consistently work on it throughout the duration of their employment. No internship is exactly the same, and each one has unique opportunities to learn and grow!
Why Participate in Internships?
As previously mentioned, participating in internships allows students to learn experientially. Students who participate in internship programs can also make connections to build their network, improve their resumes, and gain unique professional soft skills such as: learning how to write professional emails, being trained in correct meeting etiquette, and building a work ethic that will last them a lifetime. Students are also often offered positions at the companies they are interning for. According to Smallbiz Genius, “Approximately 70% of employers offer their interns full-time jobs.” In addition to the exciting leg-up that students gain from internships, involvement in internship programs can be a lot of fun! Often, multiple interns will work for a company at a time, which results in lasting friendships. Plus, it is exciting to actually experience what it’s like to work in your dream job. Internships can give you a taste of what your future career may look like, helping you decide if it is a path you want to continue on.
Participating in Internships as a High School Student
While most internships are geared towards college students, there are opportunities for students still in high school. This is especially true for students living in big cities such as Dallas, Houston, and Chicago. Websites such as CollegeVine and Aralia have compiled lists of popular national internships for high school students. We suggest narrowing your search by completing a profile on a job website like Handshake, Indeed, or Glassdoor. Students searching for high school or college internships can make a profile uniquely tailored to find internship positions in their desired professions near their communities, and sign up to be notified when positions become available. We also suggest attempting to create your own internship for a company you want to work with. Companies may be receptive to taking on a high school intern, even if they do not have an internship program already in place. It never hurts to ask!
While internships can be extremely useful, it is also okay to use your time in school to prepare for applying for an internship post-graduation. Whether you plan on attending college, going to trade school, or starting in the workforce, interning is a great way to begin your career! To prepare for internships while in school, begin by exploring your interests and figuring out what might be a good future career. Many high schools and colleges offer cooking classes, art classes, welding classes, and more. Try new things and discover your passions! We also suggest asking a school counselor or teacher to aid you in your search for your future career. And remember that every grade counts! If you work hard to earn good grades, employers will be impressed by your dedication to learning. It is also good to get involved in organizations and run for leadership positions. Your future employer will recognize that you can work in a team and take charge of projects when needed. Experience volunteering for nonprofits is a great addition to a resume too. Employers want to hire students that strive to take action to improve their communities. If you are interested in volunteering for E.R.E., you can apply here! School is the perfect time for exploring your interests and preparing for your future career!
E.R.E. Supports Internships
At Educate. Radiate. Elevate., we believe that participating in and preparing for internships is an important step in our students’ academic journeys! We tutor low-income BIPOC students who experience disadvantages throughout their academic careers. Often, these students do not have access to opportunities such as career exploration, so our tutors assist our students in acquiring the essential skills and taking the steps necessary to apply to internships, enroll in college, and enter the workforce. Your donation can keep our program running! E.R.E. also employs remote interns to assist with marketing, communications, and fundraising! If you are interested in joining E.R.E.’s growing intern team, apply here!