Getting an internship isn’t easy — especially as a high school student. But its definitely possible if you work for it. Here are some strategies I used to land an internship after my sophomore and junior years of high school.
Learn about what recruiters want and what they like to see in those they hire. Look through forums, discussions, or anything that may give you insight into this information. Best yet, contact someone you may know who works in the industry. Make sure you can apply yourself to appeal to the recruiter.
Also know what you want in your internship. What area do you want to go into? What would you like to get out of your internship? What would you like to put on your resume? These are all important questions to ask before applying for internships, because they’ll help narrow your options.
Develop and Maintain Connections
Personal and professional connections are probably the number one way to get an internship at this age. Developing and maintaining connections may link you to people who can get you an internship in the area you want. Remember to not disregard anyone, even if its not in your industry. Opportunities come from where you least expect it. Focus on growing your network. Keep in contact with them, even through Facebook, LinkedIn, or email.
When the time comes along, reach out to the connections you have and ask if they have any open spaces available for internships. They might even connect you with someone who does.
Create and Display a Professional Profile
The first and most important thing you should have in your professional profile is your resume. It sums up your qualifications, and why you are a perfect fit for the internship position. As a student, it may be hard to fill up a resume. Remember to add any relevant experiences, awards, or projects that you have. If you still have a lot of left over space, you can add things such as the skills you have and classes that you have taken. Don’t over-crowd your resume, though. Try to keep only the things that are relevant and specific to you and what you work with. You can even look online for different layouts and templates.
If possible, its also good to have a website. This is accessible to anyone, and it makes it easier for recruiters to find you and what you’ve accomplished. Its good to put projects, who you are, and how to contact you on your website. Its also good to add anything personal that you want people to know about you, like your hobbies.
Lastly, make a strong LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn itself will guide you on how to make a strong profile geared for recruiters. A great bonus to your profile is recommendations — reach out to any of your teachers or people you’ve worked with to see if you can get a recommendation.
Another way to land an internship is to cold call or email recruiters, which basically means contacting them out of the blue. Typically this is a lot less efficient, but if you’re willing to put the work in it may pay off. Find open internship positions that interest you (theres often a lot on LinkedIn or Glassdoor), and track the recruiter responsible for the position. Shoot them a message personally saying you’re interested in interning (add that you’d do it for no pay, if you’re willing), and send over your resume and a cover letter. If possible, try to tailor each cover letter to the person/company that you’re applying for. That does mean that you may write over 50 letters, but it really shows that you’re determined to get an internship. If you get a lead, follow it. Make sure to follow up after any interview that you have.
There are some great resources online showing you how to write an awesome cover letter.
This is a great tip that I got from one of my good friends in Canada. Make an excel sheet and keep track of the company that you applied for, the position, and a link to the open position. If you’re really on top of it, add the recruiter’s name, a link to the cover letter you sent, and whether you’ve heard a response from them. This way, you’ll be more organized and make better decisions on where to send applications.
Prepare for Interviews
Even if you’re still in the mist of applying, and haven’t heard back from anyone yet. Its always important to refine your knowledge and be able to display your skills whenever requested. Again, look online for resources that can help you perform well in the interview with tips and tricks. Learn any information that you may need to know, and make sure that you understand the position well.
In the interview, don’t be discouraged if you’re not able to get something immediately. Recruiters also look for resilience and It’s okay to work at Starbucks
This may not be the most glorified job, but it’ll give you good work experience. You’ll be collaborating in a busy environment, and catering directly to customer needs. Sure, it may not seem directly relevant to where you want to go in life, but it teaches other lessons that will be applied in your future. Most people overlook what you can learn from working here. Have Standards
Make sure you accept an internship that gives you experience and connections — don’t take one where you file and staple papers the entire time. The difference between this and working at Starbucks is that at Starbucks, you’re still essential in the flow of the workplace, and people depend on you. This is the kind of experience that you should aim to get out of your summer internship.
Chances are, you’ll end up getting an internship from a connection or from someone you know. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t get one — even if you didn’t, you grew your connections and strengthened your professional profile. Keep repeating these throughout the year, so the next summer you have an even stronger profile.
I hope this helped give a little insight as to how to get an internship as a high school level. Good luck!