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Summer Plans: Crafting an Internship

Summer’s nearly here, hooray! But now what? High school summers can be filled with so much, and sadly, so little. As students navigate the summer holidays throughout their high school years, it becomes important to consider two things:

  1. How can my summer activity be more meaningful to me?

  2. How can my summer activity help me build a solid resume in preparation for a future college or job application?

Initially, students may think fun is the first order of business between 9th and 10th grade, and that having summer fun is very important. The transition from middle school to high school can be tough, and during a global pandemic it can be even harder to navigate with online classes and limited clubs, sports, and activities.

But– summer could be so much more. In this article, we will explore one option for students to consider: a carefully designed summer internship.

First, understanding the importance of an internship is essential to crafting ways in which a successful summer of work, research, or community service can benefit you. The most basic benefit may be for financial rewards (although many internships are unpaid). For many students, it's deepening and widening knowledge in areas of strong academic interest. For everyone, an internship can lead to rewarding self-awareness and a journey of self-discovery that will guide the student towards universities, majors, or career paths that resonate in a deeply personal and targeted way. Getting a first-hand experience in the field you wish to study is pertinent and can demonstrate both dedication and knowledge to your application reader. An internship can show adaptability, targeted interest, and maturity. For you, it gives real insight into your chosen field and can help clarify the direction of your academic trajectory.

Once you have decided to embark upon a summer internship and have chosen the direction– work, community service, international/local travel– then researching ideas is your next step.

There are some excellent websites that have curated lists of options: Aralia, National Institutes of Health, and the National Society of High School Scholars are good resources.

It is also important to be creative in your search for the type of experience that really matters to you. Start locally, right there in your high school’s guidance office. Many schools have college or career counselors with lists of summer jobs and/or internship experiences. Teachers may have good personal contacts in their field so talk to them and ask about any summer options they may be aware of within your chosen field. Libraries, boys’ and girls’ clubs, and community centers may carry or post flyers about summer programs and in some locations, city councils will provide summer internship listings. If you have a parent or other relative in your field of interest, have a conversation with them to ask about summer opportunities.

High school students need to take the time to really think about both who they are and what they want from their futures before considering their academic major in college. A summer internship can be part of that internal dialogue. This opportunity can give you your first look at a 9-5 job in an office, a 6-2 shift in the hospital, an 8-6 day in a lab, or a long day spent outside. Keep in mind, one summer does not have to look like another! Vary your summer activities.

As students start their final year of college, finding a job becomes an imperative. If you have already experienced a range of summer internships during both high school and college, you’ll have built up a significant number of contacts within an array of contexts and/or fields. Start small, then slowly widen your search horizons. A summer in a small local start-up with no salary could become a paid summer internship at a national tech company with employment possibilities looming in the future. College Vine has published a list of paid summer internships for high school students to consider.

Finally, it is important to be practical in your search. Consider ease of commuting, cost of travel, family commitments, and summer sports. Once you start your internship, you must do everything to complete your assignments. At the end of the summer, don’t forget to request a recommendation from your immediate supervisor. Look for ways in which you can demonstrate commitment to your assigned tasks, share mature interactions with colleagues and co-workers, show responsibility and reliability vis-à-vis on time arrivals, and offer intelligent contributions at meetings. This will all appear in the letter of recommendation and will impress your colleges. So, start your search as early as possible. A summer internship can serve a very important role in your high school years and your future academic choices.

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published by The College Advisor, prepared for our clients and their families.


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