Developing a college application packet may seem like a daunting task, but it can be fun and exciting. As you think about what will differentiate you as a candidate, consider pursuing an internship to showcase your drive and determination for success. You can apply for an internship during high school to help you develop new skills and learn more about a potential career path. Internships may be paid or unpaid, and you can even spend your summer in a practical experience to maximize your time.

Write a Resume

An application for an internship typically requires a resume. Begin by making a list of all of the activities and jobs that you’ve held. You can also list academic honors, awards and unique talents. Limit your high school resume to one page. The categories on your resume should include:

  • Extra-Curricular Activities
  • Awards and Honors
  • Employment

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Draft a Cover Letter

In addition to a resume, you’ll need a cover letter. You can write a simple letter that describes your background, and why you’re interested in an internship. Briefly highlight your experiences and share how you feel that you could make a difference as an intern. As you apply, you can insert the name of the internship and something in your background that specifically applies to the experience.

Ask Teachers or Mentors to Be a Reference

It’s important to have credible references that can advocate on your behalf. When you apply for an internship, you can expect that the decision-maker will want to be convinced about why you’re the candidate of choice. Ask a teacher, advisor, coach or mentor to write you a letter of reference. If you know where you’re going to apply, be sure to give them the specifics of the internship. Otherwise, just ask for a general letter of reference that you can use for each application.

Consider Your Future Career Interests

Before applying for an internship, reflect upon your career interests and academic strengths. Make a list of all of your classes and rank them from most favorite to least favorite. Do the same thing with your extra-curricular activities. Next, look for commonalities. For example, if you love English and volunteering at an after-school program, an internship focused on education or tutoring may be an ideal choice.

Pursue a Summer Internship in 2019

It’s common for colleges to provide internships for high school students during the summer. If you’re interested in an internship position that focuses on a specific academic discipline, research relevant opportunities at area colleges and universities. You can use a summer internship experience to engage in research and scholarly work in a particular discipline. For example, if you’re interested in science or math, you may be able to work alongside a scientific researcher as a research assistant.

Approach a Community Agency

You can still apply for an internship, even if you don’t see a formal posting online or in a newspaper. Local community agencies are likely to welcome a high school student that’s interested in volunteering and lending their talents. For example, if you’re interested in working with youth, approach your local YMCA or community education office about an internship position. If they’ve never had a high school intern, urge them to give you the opportunity to be the first.

Shadow a Local Professional

If you can’t find a formal internship, try shadowing a local professional. You may be able to get your foot in the door as a student that wants to learn more about the profession. Once you show your interest and commitment, it’s possible that your experience could turn into an internship. Developing connections with organizational leaders is one of the most effective ways to open the door to future opportunities.

About the Author

Dr. Kelly Meier earned her doctorate from Minnesota State Mankato in Educational Leadership. She is the author and co-author of 12 books and serves as a consultant in K-12 and higher education. Dr. Meier is is a regular contributor for The Equity Network and has worked in education for more than 30 years.