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The High School Internship Program- Room for improvement

At the high school that I attend senior students have the opportunity to spend their last six weeks of school interning. This is a popular program with upwards of 90% participating. However, many students don't push themselves to seek an enriching internship, and the school is partly to blame for this.

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High schools should make connections with businesses to set up senior internships, summer internships, and other summer programs for students. This would make it easier for students to obtain worthwhile internships, and it would assure the school that they are sending their students to work somewhere that will benefit them. 

Many students spend their time interning with a teacher at another school in the district, while others work for local businesses. Some students create their own internship opportunities. One senior I know decided to work as an intern at the Museum of Natural History in New York City. She was interested in astronomy, so she was able to learn a lot with her internship there. Still, there are many students who blow off their internship. This has become a progressively worsening problem at my high school, and there is some debate over whether my class should be the first to have their internships taken away. I hope that this isn’t the case because the senior internship program gives students the chance to do something exciting with the end of their high school career. After all, a school should aim to give its students as many opportunities to shine as possible. It would be a shame if my school ended the program instead of trying to make something more of it.

A good internship can be invaluable to a student. It allows them to gain work experience, identify their interests, and use knowledge that they have acquired from high school. Simply applying for internships is an experience that can be beneficial for students. Creating a resume and cover letter are important career skills, and it helps to practice them early and often. This will come as an advantage when it is time for that student to navigate the job market or apply for other internships. Also, internships provide an opportunity for students to network, which can lead to job opportunities. Some intern positions may even require the student to interview for the job, another important skill that is best to learn early in life.

The end of high school is also a time of uncertainty for a lot of seniors. Many only have a slight idea of what career they might want to start or what classes they want to take in college. Exploring that vague idea while still in high school can give students more direction. Consequently, they will be less likely to become lost in college, studying a topic that they are not interested in. Internships even have the potential to shape careers. My friend’s older brother got a job after college because of his high school internship. As a senior he knew that he was interested in mechanical engineering. He interned at a company that creates large, industrial air conditioning systems and recently got a job in Washington D.C. doing the same type of work.

Because of all of the benefits that internships can bring to students in high school, it is not surprising to see that they are becoming more popular across the country. A study by the consulting firm, Millennial Branding, and the largest marketplace of internships, Internships.com, showed that half of all companies are making internship positions for high school students. Likewise, half of all high school students surveyed said that they will be participating in an internship in order to gain professional experience. The survey also supported the previously stated advantages for high school students that have internships. Of the companies surveyed, “90% of companies agree that high school internship programs can help students get into better colleges, 89% say they’ll have a competitive advantage when looking for a college internship or full-time job, and 83% said those internships will yield better paying jobs.”
 

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Photo of Meena Kadri

Great human centred insights, John. We hope you'll be joining us for our Ideas phase (launches tomorrow) to be part of rethinking how internships might work. Exciting opportunities!