Internships are a great way to develop skills, learn about industries you're interested in, and get some real-life experience while still in high school. But it doesn't end there: Internships also help strengthen a college application. They communicate a strong fit for major, show colleges that you have a solid sense of initiative, and offer an opportunity for impact that can make you stand out from the crowd.
Of course, internships vary in style. Some take place during the school year, in which case they're usually about 5-7 hours/week. Others might be over the summer, in which case they could be anywhere from 15-40 hours/week. The type of internship you select will also depend on your interests. If you know that you want to major in the sciences, you might try searching for openings with a scientific research department at a local start-up or a state environmental agency. If you're focused on marketing, you could look for a social media internship at a local small business.
But knowing what internship you want is just the beginning. You'll need to start the process several months before you hope to begin working because it will take time to do research, follow leads, and arrange interviews. Here are four steps to finding and landing a great internship:
4 Steps To Finding and Landing A Great Internship
Look for opportunities that match your skills, aptitudes, and motivations. You'll be less likely to be hired for internships that don't match your profile. And even if you are hired, you probably won't enjoy the work very much if it doesn't match your skills and interests. Look at tools like YouScience to figure out where you shine, and be sure to build on areas of success you've had in the past.
Ask family and friends for connections. The overwhelming majority of opportunities will come from a family or family friend's network. That doesn't mean you shouldn't also be cold emailing to put yourself out there, but networking is the easiest way to find an internship. Follow any lead you can get because you never know where it will take you.
Know what your pitch is. You want to be sure you have a quick, 10-second elevator pitch about yourself, but you also need to be ready to talk for 10 minutes about what you want and what you have to offer. You never know what someone will ask you, so the more you have stored up, the better. And be sure to practice—sometimes what's in your head won't make as much sense when it comes out for the first time.
Evaluate your options. Just because you're offered an internship, it doesn't mean you have to accept it. Ideally, you'll have multiple options. Have a family member help you determine whether a specific internship is a good fit for your skills, interests, and future plans before committing to it.