The word “internship” evokes a couple of associations, and one of them is “college.” College students often intern in fields related to their major to have a competitive advantage in the work force. Internship experiences vary, of course, from administrative busywork to concrete collaboration and projects. Now, high schools are catching on to the advantages of internships at an even earlier age, some even making high school internships a requirement.
In the past, high school internships were rarely even considered, college internships being the norm. In college, students are expected to be more mature and therefore more capable of thriving in a professional context. However, times are changing.
If we consider the context, today’s high schoolers are much more “entrepreneurial” than previous generations, thanks to the rise of YouTube, Instagram and startup culture. So they are well-positioned to be even more receptive to practical work experiences, especially in companies or organizations with a cause. In a world where jobs are being eliminated, changed or completely re-imagined, internship experience can be critical to foster professional skills that will serve students in the ever-changing future.
Even if your high school doesn’t yet offer internships, extracurricular activities can and should also include professional experiences. When planning for college, it’s just as important to have experiences that will boost your resume as to have those that will help you find your path. Internships work two-fold, and students should be thoughtful about choosing companies where they know they’ll be doing useful work and having interesting conversations.
For parents that didn’t grow up with internships as a high school, or even college possibility, there maybe some old school thought involved. Specifically, what is the difference between a part-time job and an internship? I can hear my Dad telling me that it would be good to “get a job---work someplace!”. There is certainly a lot of value to working in a supermarket, a restaurant, or at a florist. In fact, I know of a current Harvard student who impressed me with her dishwashing experience on her resume. But, it’s helpful to distinguish internships from work. An internship should include a specific learning objective.
It’s also important to keep an open mind. You might not find your dream internship from day one, but it could be a doorway or an even better learning experience. For example, future film makers might be seeking internships at top production studios, but where interns are undervalued. In reality, interning at a small, local music venue might give you more insight into the industry and about the potential role you’d like to pursue.
When it comes to high school internships, ask questions to your co-workers and try to challenge yourself beyond simple administrative tasks. Ask questions about what your co-workers actually do on a daily basis, and what they like and dislike about their jobs. Curious interns will always make a better impression and be better positioned in the professional world.
For more information on extracurriculars and activities to boost your resume, give us a call to schedule a free consultation today!
Neal Schwartz, Owner
College Planning of Westchester
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