Are Internships Worth it for High School Students?
As pressure builds through high school, it often becomes difficult to imagine life beyond graduation 🎓. However, an internship offers a fantastic way to glimpse life in the workforce and build skills through essential work experience. When considering whether an internship is worth it, ask yourself the five questions below to help identify its value. Even after determining that an internship is worthwhile, it’s important to consider your circumstances, such as time ⏱ commitments, academic workload, and future plans.
Questions to Ask to Determine the “Worth” of an Internship
Does your potential internship allow you to make a difference in your community? 🏡
Internships offer an opportunity to become involved in your immediate community. Whether working in a non-profit or local government agency, internships allow students to understand community issues and work to address them. Find a cause you are passionate about so that your time spent can benefit you and the community.
Does your potential internship allow you to practice skills that help you grow? 🌟
Whether writing policy memos in a local non-profit or tutoring students in an afterschool program, internships offer the opportunity to learn and practice new skills that will help you in the future. Internships also provide the opportunity to practice work/life/school balance and to operate in a professional environment. These skills, regardless of your future career, can be invaluable when finding your first job.
Does your potential internship expand your professional network? 🤝
There are significant benefits to connecting with professionals in your field of interest. Internships allow you to work with people who may be able to help you find a job after graduation. Even while completing lower-level tasks as an intern, internships can build your reputation as a trusted and hard-working employee. If your internship is not the field you eventually pursue, internship supervisors can serve as references for future employment. As the 21st century makes networking especially important in the job market, getting a positive start boosts your career.
Here is a list of companies that hire high school interns!
Does your potential internship add to your college resume? 🔥
In the short term, an internship can serve as an added plus to your showcase to colleges. While jobs of any sort demonstrate your work ethic and direct interaction with the real world, internships show your areas of interest and passions. College admissions officers value students who demonstrate commitment to their passions, and internships may also lead you to meaningful experiences that you can discuss in college essays.
Besides internships, you can also explore a lot of other opportunities that can improve your applications! Other things you can do include research and apprenticeships.
Quality of Work 🗂
Possibly the most important consideration is your day-to-day work at your internship. Since high school students often lack the skills or experience for high-level projects, some internships rely on interns to complete menial tasks. When searching for an internship, try to find an organization with experience working with high school students or whose work would enable you to learn new skills. For example, an afterschool tutoring organization may have internships that allow you to work with younger students; this would be ideal if you want to work in education. The best way to find a fulfilling internship is to ask questions during the application process about what work you will be doing and areas for growth within the internship.
Paid vs. Unpaid 💲
Another essential factor to consider is everyone’s favorite: money 🤑. Although paid internships give you a bit of pocket money, unpaid internships are often easier to find. In addition, paid internships frequently involve a more strenuous application process. Whether paid or unpaid, try to find an internship where the organization is committed to your growth. Remember, sometimes an internship can lead to a future paid position or give you a leg up to apply for a permanent position within that company.
Are unpaid internships worth it? Check out this article to find out!
Available Time ⌛
Before jumping into an internship, consider how much time you have to commit. While you might feel pressure to take on an internship with a significant time commitment to bolster your college application, making this decision requires a careful look at your schedule. Make a timesheet of your schedule to determine what would be a realistic time commitment.
Benefit to Future Plans 📚
The most common question about high school work is “Do I need a job to get into college?”. The clear answer is no. While high school internships give an excellent chance to explore a field, they are NOT a requirement for your future life. You may want to consider whether there are areas of growth for you in your current activities rather than assuming you should find an internship.
There is no definitive answer to the question of whether a high school internship is worth it. Although there are many possible benefits to an internship—explored above—you must consider the specifics of your internship and the specifics of your personal life to determine the answer.
Next, check out these articles about getting internships and summer jobs!