An Internship in High School? What's the Point?

Wednesday, March 20, 2019 - Bridget DiPhilippo

Standardized test scores are inching up, acceptance rates are dropping, and more and more students are applying each year for college admission. There is no denying that test scores and academic success are important in the college admissions process. However, career-centered development activities such as internships and volunteering have become increasingly important for high school students. Said activities help applicants stand apart from the competition during the admissions process. Dan Schwabel, author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules for Career Success states that “… students have to start building their careers in high school in order to better compete in the college admissions process, college internships and eventually full-time jobs.” Completing an internship in high school is not as common as completing one in college, which is why a high school internship is highly respected and valued. An internship can set you apart from your peers and demonstrates your drive for academic, personal, and professional success. 

High school internships provide students with valuable information about the professional world and personal insights. Internship opportunities expose high school students to the work force. As an intern, students gain insight into job fields and career paths, allowing them to test drive their career interests early. This early knowledge gives interns an advantage when selecting their college major and career. An estimated 20 to 50 percent of students enter college as “undecided” while 75 percent of students change their major at least once before graduation. (Liz Freedman, Butler University) An internship could help your student validate or eliminate certain fields and majors, ultimately saving both time and money.

In addition to an academic advantage, an early internship will develop students work ethics, communication skills, and the ability to work as a team. Interns gain knowledge through hands-on experience while building a personal and professional network that could open doors in the future. Through a high school internship, students will develop an understanding of professionalism, communication, networking, work ethic, and independence. Professional experience is key to ensure that students have an advantage in the college application process and in the increasingly competitive job market.

Internships can be set up in a variety of ways. Some are offered in the summer, some on evenings or weekends, and some during the school day. Regardless of the structure, internship experience in high school can validate or rule out a career interest, strengthen professional skill sets, and adequately prepare students to achieve future success.

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