High school internships give students the valuable opportunity to explore what it’s like to work in different companies and certain fields before graduating high school. Work experience in fields such as technology, marketing, politics, and more can give students a chance to build their own understanding of what they want to do in their future.
Most high schools don’t offer students these opportunities, leading students to seek their own internship opportunities and their interests alone. After working for a mental health company over the summer as a paid intern for social media and marketing communications, I want to share my personal experiences and advice on navigating the world of high school internship opportunities.
To set things straight, it’s important to acknowledge the often toxic competition and comparison that comes with internships. In no way does an internship make one student better than another, and it’s important to acknowledge underlying factors of socioeconomic status that can prevent students from getting internships in high school. Internships are not the only way to obtain a better understanding of your personal and professional direction in life.
Having an understanding of my interests and passions was an important part of landing my first internship. During my freshman and sophomore years, I developed a strong passion for mental health justice, getting involved in multiple mental health organizations. This first step is often the hardest for many students, as it’s difficult to find the time to develop these passions in high school.
Starting to talk with different adults in different careers may help build this better understanding of what a student’s passions are. Asking parents, teachers, or even classmates about adults in fields of interest and having a conversation with them can help students deepen interest in different career options. While conversing with them, students should take a leap in asking questions about potential internships offered that they know of. Although it may not seem like it, these adults have also been in similar shoes and want to help young people they see.
Students should also be mindful of presenting themselves in a responsible way in front of the connections they make. Dressing well for Zoom conversations, being knowledgeable about people’s backgrounds, and demonstrating interest can go a long way in connecting with further opportunities in the future. Taking the time to form these meaningful connections with people goes beyond career impact, but also finding friends and mentors to mutually support each other’s journeys.
Sometimes opportunities can be found within the work students are already involved in. Students who are already volunteering at local hospitals or doing volunteer community service for charities should ask the leaders of those organizations for internship opportunities in their workplaces or similar areas.
In a similar way, I found my internship opportunity at Wellness Together, which ran a student mental health ambassador program that I was a part of. By showing my skills and interest as a student ambassador and connecting with the director of the program, I was able to spend my summer as a paid intern to help market their future mental health events on social media. I am forever grateful for my experience and hope other students can find similar fulfillment and success in their career paths.