Questions and Answers: Summer Internships for Teens

| February 23, 2012 | 381 Comments

iStock 000017197889XSmall 300x201 Questions and Answers: Summer Internships for TeensNavigating and succeeding in the world of summer internships as a high school student can seem daunting at times. But, we all know the tremendous rewards teens can reap from participating in a summer internship. I often meet with students who have long lists of questions on the topic. Below, you’ll see some of my answers to the most common questions I get. Do your teens have others? Let me know! 

When should teens begin looking for internships?

Most students will begin looking for summer internships during the winter of the academic year but some firms won’t be taking applications until the spring. Students should research where they would like to intern and gain an understanding of when companies or organizations fill internship positions.

What is a good checklist for students to keep in mind when applying to internships?

  • Have references available.
  • Research organizations to prepare for interviews.
  • Keep your Facebook page and all social media professional.
  • Use a professional sounding email address.
  • Use personal networks to find organizations where a student knows someone.

As an application deadline approaches, what should my teen keep in mind?

Make sure the organization knows you are interested but don’t be a pest.

What are the benefits of doing a summer internship as a high school student? Are there any drawbacks?


  • Internships build a teens’ college application profile.
  • Internships provide valuable experience working in professional environments.
  • Internships provide opportunities to explore a fields of interest.


  • Potential of doing menial work.
  • Taking a summer internship may detract from a students’ time to participate in activities only open to teens. Internships can be done through college, and even sometimes after college graduation.

What industries typically provide the most fruitful summer internships for high school students?

The possibilities are endless and research is the key. Some fields will by their design be more limiting. If a teen is interested in medicine, for example, she should find a placement where she can observe and learn but be aware that hands on options are fewer.

For high school students with little to no work experience, what are the most important things to highlight on a resume?

Experience is greater than just work experience. Emphasize clubs, AP classes and leadership positions at school or other organizations.

If a teen has no connection to a particular field but is very interested in it, is there any way to stand out?

Take a class in the field of interest, join a related club and/or pay a visit to a potential organization to understand how to help them.

What are some ways to keep good notes and records during the summer internship to use for college applications?

Keep a journal, note successes and failures and be aware of confidential materials.

What is your advice for students who want work experience but don’t know what they would like to do?

Pick a field of interest to learn about and “try it on” for the summer.

If a teen has to work during summer–how can he make a summer job at the ice cream shop look good on a college application?

Work experience can always be used to enhance a profile. Students should identify the skills learned and brought to their work experience and state how the opportunity influenced their future.

How significantly will less than perfect grades hurt a students’ chances of gaining a coveted internship?

Some internship applications will ask for grades, others will not. Teens should not be discouraged; they should just make sure to find an organization that understands their skill set. Again, as always, research is the key.

About the Author ()

Neal Waldman is an Aristotle Circle expert on summer programs and is Vice President of Individual Academic Programs at WorldStrides. Having also co-founded Summer Discovery at UCLA, pre-college enrichment program, Neal has years of experience helping high school students make the most of their summer programs, leadership opportunities, and extracurricular activities.

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