Apr 05, 2018
While traditionally viewed as opportunities for college students, internships can provide high schoolers with a boost of experience before they’ve even received their diploma. Knowing what employers are looking for will empower parents to help their kids seek out, prepare for, and land an internship.
In the past, companies scanned through mainly undergrad and graduate student internship applications. Today, resumes sent in by those under 18 have become much more frequent and widely considered. In a recent study, 50% of employers surveyed said that they would accept a high school intern. Whether a paid position over the summer, a few days per week throughout the year, or a two-week glimpse into the working world, internships can provide students with great resources and experiences early on.
Why High School Students?
At first glance, it may seem counterintuitive for companies to hire high school students as their age, experience, and education level seemingly put them behind college applicants. Interestingly, age, experience, and education level can sometimes make high school students more appealing to employers. Many companies find that high school students tend to be more up-to-date on trends and more open to learning than older students, and it gives companies an opportunity to build brand awareness for younger audiences. Companies may also be interested in hiring students that have completed successful internships, meaning they can minimize recruitment later.
An Abundance of Opportunities
Nearly every aspect of the internship process provides great benefits. Students who have been focused on a specific career will have a better understanding of whether it’s the right path for them before ever enrolling in a college course, and they’ll gain insight into what specialty courses to take after graduating if they want to pursue the field further. They will also have access to experienced employees, which are not only great sources of insight, but can also lead to beneficial networking opportunities. Plus, regardless of whether the position ends up being right for them, an internship will teach students responsibility, work ethic, and accountability.
Students will continue to benefit from their internship even after it has been completed. Listing an internship on college applications will guarantee a student stands out among their peers, and having solid work experience so early can be a positive signal to future employers. Internships can also lead to a position within that company - 70% of those surveyed said that successful high school internships would very likely lead to a college internship, while 45% said that it would very likely lead to a full time position.
How Can Parents Help?
In order to secure an internship, high school students need to be prepared for the hiring process. Parents can guide students in the right direction in several ways.
1. Support while job searching
Parents can help students look for current opportunities online, but should also encourage their children to be creative in the search process. Explore what it is your child truly enjoys doing and think of roles that they could apply for related to their skill sets. Co-workers, teachers, and community members may have connections that could help your child find an internship as well. Finally, don’t shy away from having your child pitch themselves to a company – excitement, ambition, and determination can lead to a foot in the door.
2. Help create a stand-out resume and cover letter
A good resume doesn’t hurt either. Parents and tutors can help students write and edit a shining resume by highlighting extracurricular activities, past work experience (camp counseling, lifeguarding, etc.), skills, and GPA. Additionally, writing a cover letter that expresses what they hope to accomplish through the internship and how they plan on doing so will show recruiters that they have specific goals in mind that they’ll be motivated to achieve.
3. Understand your child’s goals
Help your child understand what they want to accomplish through this internship. Is it just an addition to their college application? A way to network and make connections for a job later on? Do they hope to gain skills that are applicable to their daily lives, or do they want to make a noticeable difference in the company? Thinking through these questions will help give your child guidance throughout their internship.
4. Ace the interview
Going through the interview process is the last and most vital step in the application process. Parents should work with students to think through any possible interview questions and practice answering clearly, concisely, and confidently. Employers often ask about past accomplishments, strengths and weaknesses, and why the applicant wants to work for their company. Thinking through and practicing these questions ahead of time will prepare your child for a wide range of topics they might discuss during the interview.
5. Be a source for their questions
As this may be your child’s first step into the working world, be prepared to answer any questions or concerns they may have. Whether it’s about how the day to day will work, any uncertainties, or how to achieve their career goals, be open, honest, and use your own experiences to help your child feel ready and confident for their first day.
Remind your high school student that getting an internship early can lead to amazing opportunities down the road. Encourage them to think about what they would love to do when they’re older and work together to get a head start on making their dreams a reality.