High school is supposed to prepare students for college and the workforce. As such, during these critical years, students should be exposed to various curriculum and teacher-directed instruction in an effort to allow them to explore their unique interests and skill sets. But what else can be done to ensure students graduate understanding what careers they may be interested in pursuing before committing to a particular college program or a job that they may dread? An internship may be the answer.

A recent survey found that 77 percent of high school students are either extremely or very interested in volunteering to gain work experience.

High school internships

Internships for high school students are great options for those looking to explore different career opportunities and network with professionals in the field. Internships provide work experience that is hands-on and relatable to the careers students may be interested in pursuing. While many internships are paid, generally those in high school are voluntary. The tasks that a high school intern may be exposed to can seem menial, from stapling paperwork to putting away the dishes to making coffee to entering data in spreadsheets. But if done correctly, the experiences gained from networking with and observing colleagues can prove invaluable. Ultimately, this type of real-world exposure should help students in the discovery process and even help them answer the age-old question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“Having clear goals in mind makes it more likely that you’ll find an internship you can get excited about.”

Setting clear goals

The first step in beginning to explore internships is to determine one’s interests. Try this: have students create a list of what they are passionate about and their favorite school subjects. Through this self-reflection, they may begin to draw connections between what they like to do and what careers might interest them. For example, if Julie really enjoys playing sports and math class at school, she might want to consider an internship in sports management.

How to find an internship

Once students have completed their self-discovery and have honed in on a particular field that they’d like to explore, they can now begin researching internships online. Some popular resources include:

  • Indeed.com, which allows you to save searches and set up email alerts when new internships are posted;
  • Idealist.org, which lists numerous internship and volunteer opportunities from over 57,000 nonprofits in 180 countries;
  • Internshipprograms.com, which allows you to search by employer, field of interest, or location; and 
  • GoAbroad.com, which lists quality international internships.

Students can also reach out to their guidance department for resources and suggestions as well as their own personal connections, such as family and friends, to learn about potential opportunities. Local community centers which also have internship postings.

Using EVERFI to teach these skills

Finding an internship takes effort and a willingness to try something new. One way to teach the important concept of college and career exploration is through digital programs that teach students how to begin exploring college degrees, internships, and jobs. Keys to Your Future, created in partnership with UBS and EVERFIm does just that. In Lesson 5: Starting a Career, students identify resources for assistance in choosing and preparing for college and/or a career and are exposed to the job and internship search process.