Why Are Internships Important, and Where to Find Them?



In a recent article we provided a guide to finding and pursuing passion in high school. Once you have some general idea of where your passions lie, internships are the best way to deepen and narrow down that interest. Not only are internships impressive on a college application, but they are also the most effective way to gain first-hand insights into your potential career paths.

Good internships are not easy to find. So, act early and be proactive. Start with an online search. If you have a specific company or organization in mind, you can look for internship information directly on their websites. Many companies and organizations, including both local and large, international corporations, offer internship opportunities for students as young as freshmen in high school. These internships are often offered in the summer to fit your schedule. Typically, there is a screening process, and depending on the organization, it can be quite competitive.

Not all high school internships are paid. In fact, most pay less than busing tables at a local restaurant. However, with an internship, you will gain valuable experience that is aligned with your passion, you will have a preview of what the potential future career would look like, and you will make your college application stronger, all of which in the long run will be much more important than earning a lot of money in a summer during high school. As long as the internship aligns with your interest, we strongly encourage you to apply, even if it pays nothing.

In this article, we share a list of some highly sought-after internships for high school students. No matter where your passions lie, be it arts, humanities, STEM, medicine, politics, journalism, or community engagement, you will find our list helpful. Some of these internships are prestigious, long-running national programs that are not easy to get into, so make sure you apply early and have someone such as a college counselor look over your application. Applications typically require transcripts, essays, and letters of recommendation. For the less-competitive internships offered by the businesses and nonprofits in your area, you can find them on job sites such as LinkedIn and Indeed; you can also try reaching out to them directly.

Bank of America Student Leaders Program

Each year since 2004, Bank of America offers a paid eight-week internship to over 300 community-minded high school students to work with nonprofits of your choice. Not only do students get first-hand experience serving their communities, they will also get to see how nonprofits, governments and businesses collaborate to meet local needs by participating in the national Student Leaders Summit in Washington, D.C. Many of the students use their new-found skills to make a greater impact and improve more lives.

  • Eligibility: Grades 11-12

  • Length of Internship: 8 Weeks

  • Location: Your Chosen Nonprofits

  • Compensation: Paid

New York Times Summer Internship Program

As a summer intern, high school students will have the opportunity to help readers of New York Times better understand the world. During the 10-week program in New York City, students will work closely with the teams and attend sessions with leaders from across the organization. Interns will be placed into a variety of teams and projects depending on interests and skills, including technology, advertising, marketing, product and design and data analytics.

  • Eligibility: Grades 11-12

  • Length of Internship: 10 Weeks

  • Location: New York City, New York

  • Compensation: Paid

The National Aeronautics & Space Administration (NASA) Internships

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) offers amazing internships to students from high school to graduate level. Interns will have the opportunity to participate in either research or other experiential learning, under the guidance of a mentor at NASA. They will gain valuable research experience by participating in authentic projects that are dedicated to space exploration and will eventually take flight in space!

  • Eligibility: Ages 16 or Above

  • Length of Internship: 10 Weeks in Summer or 16 Weeks in Fall/Spring

  • Location: All NASA Locations

  • Compensation: Paid

Microsoft High School Internship Program

Geared toward STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) students, Microsoft’s high school internship program provides aspiring students the opportunity to work on authentic technology projects that make a difference in people's lives around the world. Interns will gain valuable hands-on experience while learning on the job.

  • Eligibility: Ages 16 or above

  • Length of Internship: 10 Weeks

  • Location: Redmond, Washington

  • Compensation: Paid

Air Force Research Lab Summer Internship

The Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) Scholars Program offers paid summer internship opportunities to students from upper-level high school to university graduate students pursuing STEM degrees. Interns will gain valuable hands-on research experiences working with full-time AFRL scientists and engineers on cutting-edge research and technology.

  • Eligibility: Grades 11-12

  • Length of Internship: Summer

  • Location: Multiple Air Force Research Lab Locations

  • Compensation: Paid

Facebook Summer Academy

Students will work closely with Facebook Mentors and other Facebook employees in their respective capacities to gain real-world work experience and on-the-job skills that will help propel them into successful careers in the tech industry. Depending on availability and interests, students will be placed in various tracks, such as Finance Operations, Human Resources, Public Policy, IT Service Desk, Media Partnerships, Information Security, Facilities Operations, and Communications.

  • Eligibility: Grades 11, Northern California Residents (Details on Website)

  • Length of Internship: 6 Weeks

  • Location: Menlo Park, California

  • Compensation: Paid

Smithsonian Internships

The Smithsonian offers a wide variety of internship opportunities where students can find their roles in art and history, cultural heritage, information technology, business and management, international relations, and much more! Most of these internships are offered locally at the Smithsonian’s various museums, research centers, and other business units, while a few can be done virtually.

  • Eligibility: Varies by Internship

  • Length of Internship: Varies by Internship

  • Location: Washington, DC or Virtually

  • Compensation: Paid and Unpaid, Varies by Internship

Internship at McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences

McLaughlin Research Institute for Biomedical Sciences is a leader known for neurogenetics research in degenerative nerve diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. Since 1954, talented high school students have participated in cutting edge research at the Institute by working in the lab of one of the Institute’s faculty and immersing themselves in investigational science, with supplemental workshops and seminars. Many interns have gone on to successful careers in research or medicine.

  • Eligibility: Grades 11-12

  • Length of Internship: 8 Weeks

  • Location: Great Falls, Montana

  • Compensation: Paid

City of Hope Summer Internship in BioMedical Research

The Eugene and Ruth Roberts Summer Student Academy at City of Hope provides high school and university students hands-on research experience. Students will design and work on their own biomedical research projects in areas of their interests. They will be immersed in independent thought and exploration with valuable guidance and support from renowned City of Hope faculty members who serve as mentors. Students will also practice scientific writing and presentation through weekly seminars and a final report at the end of this program.

  • Eligibility: Ages 16 or above

  • Length of Internship: 10 Weeks

  • Location: Duarte, California

  • Compensation: Paid

UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program Summer Internship

The UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT Program Summer High School Internship aims to make leading discoveries through research, provide forward-thinking diagnosis and treatment, and transfer knowledge of sports related concussion and brain health to the broader community. The team of experts are at the forefront of traumatic brain injury (TBI)/concussion prevention, comprehensive care, and neurological health. Students will work directly with clinical and research staff as well as with other interns, undergraduate, and medical students who are a part of the BrainSPORT Volunteer Club. Each student will be matched with a research staff for 1:1 mentorship.

  • Eligibility: Grades 11-12

  • Length of Internship: 10 Weeks

  • Location: Westwood, California

  • Compensation: Unpaid

Getty Student Teen Programs

Teen Programs at the Getty strive to honor the value and importance of art and interpretations made by teens. Students will have opportunities to connect with artists and arts professionals who activate the museum and its collections from antiquity to contemporary. Students will also engage with neighborhoods all across Los Angeles with particular focus on those that have been identified as having little to no arts programming. Internships include Student Gallery Guides, Teen Lab, and Latin Academy.

  • Eligibility: Ages 16-18

  • Length of Internship: 6-8 Weeks, Varies by Internship

  • Location: Los Angeles, CA

  • Compensation: Paid

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Internships

CDC offers several hands-on, short-term internship programs for middle and high school students who are interested in public health. Some of these programs introduce students to the science of epidemiology, while others focus on the increasingly important role of statistics in public health.

  • Eligibility: Middle and/or High School Students, Varies by Internship

  • Length of Internship: Varies by Internship

  • Location: Atlanta, GA or Virtually

  • Compensation: Paid and Unpaid, Varies by Internship

United States Secret Service (USSS) Volunteer Program

For students interested in a career in criminal justice, law enforcement, and homeland security, the USSS Student Volunteer Program provides excellent learning opportunities. Students will learn about the nature and the structure of the U.S. Secret Service, and work on academic-related assignments. These opportunities will allow students to explore career options while developing personal and professional skills.

  • Eligibility: Ages 16 and Above U.S. Citizen

  • Length of Internship: 14-16 Weeks, Varies by Office

  • Location: Field Offices Nationwide

  • Compensation: Unpaid

Keck Graduate Institute Summer Internship

The Keck Graduate Institute (KGI) offers several unpaid internship opportunities to exceptionally motivated and academically strong high school students to gain hands-on research experience, and learn about the pursuit of a science or engineering-related college major and professional career. Matched with a KGI faculty mentor, interns will initially shadow KGI researchers and undergraduate students, and will engage in a small research project suited to their skills, knowledge, and interests.

  • Eligibility: Ages 16 and Above

  • Length of Internship: 2-6 Weeks, Varies by Internship

  • Location: Claremont, California

  • Compensation: Unpaid

Medical Assistantship at Hospitals or Clinics

If you are interested in public health or medicine, your local hospitals and clinics are the best place to look for internships. Larger hospitals usually organize volunteers and interns in a more structured way, and even have standard protocols or well-developed programs for training and promotion. For example, the Torrance Memorial Medical Center, located in the South Bay of Los Angeles, California, where our office is located, offers excellent medical internship programs for aspiring high school students. Common tasks include transporting patients, making deliveries to patients, delivering lab specimens, medical charts and supplies around the hospital. On the other hand, interning at a small clinic in your neighborhood can be just as valuable; you may be thrown into the thick of things and even work closely with a full-time medical staff right away.

  • Eligibility: Varies, Usually Grades 9-12

  • Length of Internship: Full Year or Summer, Varies by Internship

  • Location: Countless, Check Your Local Hospitals and/or Clinics

  • Compensation: Usually Unpaid

Government Office and Political Campaigns

For students interested in political science or politics, there is no better option than working in a government office or on a political campaign. Many local, state, and national government offices and political campaigns hire interns and volunteers to assist with a wide variety of tasks. High school students usually take on simple, routine tasks, such as answering phones, helping to set up events, etc. Although these tasks don’t sound glamorous, students will have the opportunity to witness the day-to-day operations of a government office or a political campaign. Students will not only be able to sharpen their political sensitivity, but also develop a better understanding of a potential career in politics.

  • Eligibility: Varies

  • Length of Internship: Varies by Internship

  • Location: Countless, Check Your Local, State, and National Offices

  • Compensation: Usually Unpaid