The Best Internships for High School Students and How to Find Them

Student in white sweater working on a science project during her highschool internship
September 5, 2023


Reviewed by:

Former Admissions Committee Member, Columbia University

Reviewed: 03/08/23

High School Internships give students a taste of what they can expect from a job. An internship looks good to college admissions and could help secure opportunities for your future. Read on if you want to learn more about the best high school internships and how to find them!

High school internships help students determine what they want to do after high school and college. If you have a hole in your schedule, an internship could be a beneficial personal and professional experience. For students looking to put some experience in a specific field, an internship may work better than a part-time job.

The responsibility of having a high school internship comes down to the student. Compared to co-op programs, high schools typically do not provide in-house resources to support most internships, like the interview process, transportation, and overall funding. 

This lack of support potentially limits participation in high school internships to older students, typically juniors and seniors. Depending on the internship's schedule, you may also need permission from your school.

If you’re considering taking on a high school internship, this article will cover the most notable internships you can attain. Let’s get started!

8 Top Internships for High School Students

The internships available to you can vary depending on your location and the field you're hoping to enter. For instance, students in more rural communities may encounter more challenges finding internship opportunities than someone living in a big city. 

Knowing the difference between an internship and a part-time job is essential. An internship will teach you about a career and provide the necessary work experience to help you find an entry-level job in that industry; however, it may not always provide payment. A part-time job will earn money but may not work in favor of your career goals.

An internship also differs from high school co-ops, which function similarly but are attached to school requirements. Co-ops are often a part of a school’s curriculum, designed to earn the student work experience while earning credits. Internships take a more part-time focus, earning work experience on the side while attending school. 

Below you'll find some picks for the top eight high school internships. Most, if not all, of these internships are available to students across the United States. Internships for high school students can go a long way toward college acceptance, academic success, work experience, and getting your foot in the door for future career opportunities.

NOAA Geosciences Bridge Program

The NOAA-sponsored UMES Geoscience Bridge Program is a great bridge program internship. While interning for the NOAA, students participate in lectures and hands-on field trips. When the on-campus bridge program ends, students will jump directly into college and the Geosciences major at the University of Maryland.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration focuses on researching ocean and atmospheric sustainability. If you're interested in careers based on the ocean and saving the environment, consider this great opportunity! 

NASA Internships Programs

Taking part in one of NASA’s internship programs can lead to great opportunities and experiences for students looking for a career in STEM fields. NASA is undoubtedly an outstanding choice for students wishing to break into careers in aerospace engineering, research, aviation, and many others.

Some exciting high school internships NASA offers include their Mars Climate studies, Optics for Space, AR/VR technology, Mission Science, Aircraft Mobility design, and Knowledge Management. 

Their Intern Employment Program enables students from various backgrounds to learn, contribute and provide their perspectives on NASA’s projects. If you’re interested in learning or contributing to the process of science, sign up for the following summer’s high school programs.

Smithsonian Internships

The Smithsonian also offers great opportunities for high school students. The Smithsonian institute seeks to spread scientific knowledge, understanding, and respect for history and culture. They offer exciting internships for students looking towards careers based in sciences.

Some more promising opportunities are from the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center, the Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. These institutions work to honor and preserve the diversity in US history and seek diverse students for their internships. 

Applications requirements and deadlines vary by opportunity. 

Pathways Program  

The Pathways Program provides internships through their contacts with United States Federal agencies. The program updates regular internship opportunities searchable here through its database. Pathways internships work with government agencies, from the Internal Revenue Service to the Departments of Agriculture and Transportation. 

As a student intern, you’ll explore out-of-the-classroom experiences while learning about the careers and work done by the different agencies. Most Pathways interns work as student trainees tasked with research, analysis, and meeting participation while learning about the agency's duties and functions. You’ll be where decisions happen.

A college will likely see a Pathways internship as an intriguing academic experience on your college application or essays. Students participating in these programs sometimes go on to full careers with the agencies they interned for. The opportunities to network and earn distinction could jump-start your future career path.

Working for an agency via the Pathways Program may be a dream come true for a high schooler. With this experience, you'll know if this future career path is what you want. Each Pathways opportunity will have separate deadlines, requirements, and locations, so you must search for an internship that meets your availability.

Google Computer Science Summer Institute

High school Internships may make a significant step towards a well-built future– especially with Google. The tech giant offers a general summer program that teaches computer science from experts and innovators that can prepare to graduate high school students for their first year of CSI college.

Students from Canada, America, and Mexico have the opportunity to participate in a remote summer program so long as they have a stable internet connection. The program requires a time commitment of about 35 hours per week, with application deadlines throughout the year.

If you want to start a path that leads to a lasting and fruitful computer science career, this internship will give you a head start!

Bank of America Student Leaders Program

Interested in careers in finance? Consider the Bank of America Student Leaders Program if you're looking for internships for high school students that provide leadership experience. This internship allows students to define their leadership skills for college and future careers. 

Applications close in January for the following summer, so you'll have time to decide if you want to apply. If accepted, you'll work for non-profit organizations like the Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity while participating in the D.C. Student Leaders Summit.

As a junior or senior in high school with good grades, you'll be able to qualify for this eight-week internship based in Washington, D.C. This experience can give you diverse perspectives and an understanding of different people, politics, and leadership–something you could discuss in your college personal statement!

Kaiser Permanente Launch Program

If you’re interested in gaining experience in healthcare careers, consider KP! The Kaiser Permanente Healthcare company offers summer internships to high school students in Northern California as part of their KP Launch Program. 

Interns of this program have the opportunity to help their community by supporting healthcare careers. Students will take on a full-time paid internship during their seven-week summer program.

As an intern, you must meet the minimum requirements as a high schooler at least 16 years old with work authorization. Students applying for the program should be ready to meet the year’s application deadline by the end of December. 

One of Kaiser Permanente’s missions is to prioritize the participation of minority students in the program. KP acknowledges that the healthcare industry lacks diversity and seeks to change that through the Launch Program.

Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program

Do you dream about a career in biology or environmental science? The Hutton Junior, Fisheries Biology Program, seeks students for their eight-week annual summer internship. If accepted, the student will receive an awarded $3000 stipend and an expense-free trip to the annual summit, on top of the internship opportunity!

If you’re ready to apply, you’ll have to submit two essays, a letter of recommendation, a statement of interest, and your school transcript. If accepted, the Hutton Scholars Network will pair you with a local mentor to oversee your internship. Their network reaches all fifty states and even Canada and Mexico.

Hutton’s program application deadline ends in February, so apply now!

How to Find High School Internships

Like scholarships, students can find internships on online databases, some of which compile both. If you're wondering how to find internships for high school students, start by searching in your local area based on your interests. Your interests as a student should incorporate into your dreams and what you want for your future career path. 

Internships can show up on both regular job sites and company job boards. Many job websites allow you to search separately for internships. If you need help searching online, Indeed, Glassdoor, Google, and can be great places to start.

Internships can also run through bridge programs. These summer internships provide work experience and credit while on your future college campuses. Students intern for college credit with the program's sponsor group and immediately jump into fall classes after.

Another way for students to find internship opportunities is through word of mouth and networking. A simple word can go a long way if you've worked to attain a strong network from past work experiences, volunteer work, and extracurricular activities. Even asking a local company in person could be a great lead for an internship.

Like applying for a job, getting an internship depends on how well you can market yourself, so ensure your resume highlights your achievements and relevant experience. What you do every day, from extracurriculars to academics, may look good to a hiring company or college admissions.

How Important is a High School Internship for College Admissions?

Having experience as an intern can show admissions teams that you're committed to exploring your field and are eager to learn and apply your skills, making you stand out! It's crucial to catch the admissions' eye with your application; an internship could help!

Anything you've done that you think is important you should talk about on a college application. If you’ve taken on an internship, talk about what you experienced! An internship could make an excellent essay topic if you can relate to or even center the topic on your experience. 

Keep in mind a high school internship should not take priority over your grades or test scores. Participating in an internship isn’t essential to your success. What matters more for college should come down to your academics and other high school activities. Only take on an internship if you can stay on top of your grades.

FAQs: High School Internships

1. Is an Internship Good for High School Students?

An internship can be good for high school students depending on their goals, commitments, and fields of interest. While high school internships can add to your work experience and benefit your college application, it is not the only pathway available to do so. 

As a high school student, it's essential to focus on academics, extracurriculars, and work experience, so take time to decide whether an internship is the best path for you. An internship should not be a priority for high school students.

2. What are the Best Internships for High Schoolers?

The best high school internships for you will focus on your interests. Hutton Junior might be your best option if you're interested in biology or science, and The Bank of America Student Leaders program might be best if you’re interested in leadership roles. 

Only go for an internship if the opportunity works with your interests. A good internship will make it clear to the student if their interests work as an appropriate career direction.

While internships with reputable institutions such as NASA, the Smithsonian, and Google provide you with an impressive resume that stands out, don’t take them on if you have no interest in them. The best high school internships challenge students to start thinking about their future over what will help them look good to a college.

3. How Do High Schoolers Land an Internship?

There are a variety of websites and databases for high school students looking for internships. Additionally, you can find them by networking and asking the right people. Talking to your school counselors, employer, or teachers about internships can be a great place to start. 

You must also work on your resume, overall experience, and academic and non-academic portfolio. Doing so will make you a stronger candidate for high school internships, which can be quite competitive and hard to come by. 

4. How Old Do You Have to Be for an Internship?

Generally, students must be the minimum working age in their state to take on an internship, as the position will still count as a job and complies with labor laws. Make sure that you qualify to work before you apply for an internship. 

Additionally, most students in the United States can only obtain a driver's license after turning sixteen, and you may need one to get to the job site during school hours or even work the internship.

5. Do Internships Look Good for College?

Internships help you stand out as you go through the college application process. However, other activities and experiences, such as volunteering, extracurriculars, and employment, add similar value to your application. While positive, internships for high schoolers aren’t necessary for college.

An internship will help you stand out if it is related to your field of study, so keep that in mind. You may earn college credit or some distinction by taking on the internship. At the least, you can always put it on your resume.

6. When Do Most People Apply for Internships During High School?

Most high school internships have eligibility requirements and are typically open to students who are 16 years or older. While you can start looking for internships earlier in high school, your age and grade might limit your choices. Most high school students start participating in internships during their junior and senior years.

Final Thoughts

High school internships can be beneficial to getting into college and for your future career. If you can include it on your resume, it's worth extra! If you want to participate, do so during your junior or senior years. That way, you can include these experiences in your college application. 

Don’t take on an internship unless you know you can handle it during high school, as it should not affect your grades. Other tasks should take priority, like applying for college and standardized testing. Only participate in an internship if it will help your unique education pathway.

Good luck!

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