This is the season when high school students like you are starting to think about what you want to do this summer. Chances are when people ask you "What are you doing this summer?" you will say "I want a job." If you're lucky, you live in a community where camps, retail stores, swim clubs or small businesses will hire you. In a city like Boston, which is full of college students, high school students have fewer options.
So what is a high school student to do? It's impossible to just sit around the house and attending a summer program may not be afforable. My advice? Put all of your energies into landing a high school internship, paid or not. An internship, which is a hands-on learning experience that you will pay dividends today and way into the future.
Internships in High School
Studies have shown that internships in high school help students in the college admissions process and makes them more attractive to employers. I can't think of too many negatives other than that they may be unpaid.
Just to manage your expectations: You only need to be involved in an internship for about 60 hours, as little as 15 hours per week, to benefit from it. This leaves plenty of time for jobs and other pursuits.
Here are my top 10 suggestions for how to land a high school internship:
1. Make sure you have a good high school resume and cover letter (without typos) that describe who you are and your skills. Ask a parent or counselor to give you feedback before you send them. You will need them when following up on leads and for sending thank-you notes after discussions or interviews.
2. Ask friends of your parents if they can give you an internship or introduce you to someone who can.
3. Ask your teachers or coaches if they have any connections to local businesses.
4. Check with local nonprofits to see if they use high school volunteers or interns.
5. Enroll in a high school summer program that places you in an internship experience. They may charge a fee for the time it takes to meet with you and place you in an internship. These placements are vetted and you have someone to call if you need advice.
[Check out the Guide to Overnight Summer Programs to find a program that matches your interests.]
6. Contact local libraries, hospitals, museums and senior centers and ask if they offer internships for high school students. They may refer to them as volunteer opportunities. Tell them about your career interests so that they can place you in a more relevant volunteer position.
7. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club in your area—members are small business owners and are often overlooked by college students who are seeking jobs or internships.
8. Solve a business problem for your school. Think about services that your school needs or organizational issues that you can fix, ask a teacher to sponsor your efforts, and work with the administration to execute the solution.
9. Approach the office of a local camp, Y, or religious organization. Don't just think of working as a counselor.
10. Search on sites like craigslist.com for entry level positions that you could qualify for.
Once you land an internship, take it seriously and do your absolute best, no matter what you are asked to do! And thank your employer for hiring you. A satisfied internship provider could be your best advocate for years to come!