Internships are a great way for teens and young adults to gain professional skills, strengthen character, and pave the way for career opportunities in the future. Internships have grown in importance tremendously over the years and the amount of experience jobs require before entering the professional workforce are more extensive than ever. However, finding the right internships or jobs for teens can pose great difficulty and stress for both concerned parents as well as devoted children. Here are some tips to help find meaningful internships while in high school.

Start By Identifying Your Interests

Before you start looking for internships for high school students, identify your interests. For example, if you have a creative mind, you may want to work at a marketing firm or product design firm. If you do not have a strong grasp of your future career focus, start your process by identifying skills that could be beneficial in the workforce. As a teen your interests may change so jobs that have a broad range of skills may be a great first opportunity. Make a shortlist of topics that you find exciting and determine the amount of time you will be able to dedicate to an internship. This will help narrow your search to find a suitable program.

Scour Job Boards in Your Area 

There are numerous job boards that give detailed job descriptions along with the required and preferred qualifications, pay range, and work hours. To narrow your search there are filters you can use to specify your interests, desired location, experience level, and so on. If you start by saving jobs to apply to you can get a sense of what the applications are like as well as the field you want to enter. It can’t hurt to apply so don’t be shy and apply to as many as you want. Try to apply to some within your range of experience, below your experience level, and also out of your reach.

Network Without Fear

Leverage as many connections as possible because a foot in the door can go a long way for an internship. Reach out to personal connections such as high school teachers, coaches, relatives, or even your friends’ parents to obtain leads. Furthermore, you can make use of networking sites such as LinkedIn to get connected and message a broader scope of people such as friends of friends. An important reminder is not to be afraid or embarrassed to reach out to people and be persistent. Send messages to people for thirty minute information calls and always follow up with a follow request and a kind personal message to leave a good first impression. Everyone was once in this position and are often willing to lend a hand in the job search process.

Be Clear About Personal Expectations

Not all internships for high school students come with paychecks. Some internship programs provide experience instead of any form of payment. If payment is essential for you, focus on programs that provide it. Otherwise, look for programs that could be rewarding in other ways. For example, some positions allow you to gain independence and/or practical work experience. Internships are an excellent opportunity to develop or refine skills as well as figure out your interests and work style. Internships are also an opportunity to network with industry professionals who may be able to help you along your career path.

Have a goal in mind

Remember that every internship is a learning experience. Therefore, look for opportunities where you can learn new skills or develop existing ones. At the end of the program, you should be able to evaluate and identify the skills and experiences you have gained. These new skills can boost your resume and appeal to future employers. If your interests do not end up aligning with the internship it is still beneficial to network and receive a possible letter of recommendation to send you on your way.

When it comes to internships for high school students, you’ll find different opportunities in various fields. Simply follow the tips mentioned above and find a program that fulfills your requirements. Get started right away as an internship can add significant value to your resume.

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