What Are Internships And Mentorships?

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What Are Internships And Mentorships?

Internships vs mentorships are unique, even though they offer similar benefits. Both are often overlooked by students preparing for college. NSHSS raises awareness of both internships and mentorships and provides access to both through NSHSS membership.

Here is what you need to know to get started with internships and mentorships.

What are internships?

High school student internships are a form of employment in which a high school student can work in their desired field to gain experience and core competencies. Although traditional internships were unpaid, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that about 60% of internships are paid positions. A student’s immediate supervisors may be mentors as well, but not all. 

Although 70% of high school students are interested in internships, only 12% of students find and enter internship programs while in high school. However, the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) found that half of employers offer internships to students at varying academic levels, including high school students.

The study also found that the most common activities assigned to interns are those that provide the foundations required for the field while fulfilling the need for less skilled tasks. These generally include:

  • Social media with 73% of employers
  • Data entry with 41% of employers
  • Administrative work with 36% of employers

These may seem like busy work on the surface, but when one handles these tasks with the mindfulness of study it is possible to glean much about their desired career field. NSHSS members benefit from internship readiness activities.

What are mentorships?

Mentorships are relationships in which an older or more experienced individual provides support and wisdom to high school students. Most mentors do so informally and include teachers, coaches, elective and club leadership, faculty, and leadership for extracurricular activities in the community. 

Formal mentorships are often more beneficial for college admissions. Formal mentorship programs are offered by high schools, colleges, trade schools, industry associations, and other nonprofit organizations. The most common activities of mentors and mentees include:

  • Completing college applications for admission
  • Preparing for college entrance exams
  • Collaborating on admissions application essays
  • Emotional support, including unrelated recreational activities

NSHSS offers mentorship-style opportunities with our leadership programs. NSHSS leadership programs include the NSHSS Ambassadors, NSHSS Collegiate, and NSHSS Fellows. Another way NSHSS can help is with our Intern Readiness Certificate Program (IRCP) which will get you ready for the next big step!

Mentorship vs internship – unique benefits

Internships and mentorships both offer benefits unique unto themselves. High school students should consider their needs before making a decision. There are three main benefits unique to high school internships. 

  1. Prepare for college work-study. Internships give matriculating freshmen a competitive edge in academia. Internships also open the doors to better college work-study opportunities. Students may also command a higher rate in work-study than less prepared freshmen.
  2. Solidify your major. Internships give students a trial run in their career or industry of choice. According to the US Department of Education, 30% of college students change their major at least once. High school student internships make these shifts less likely, which in turn makes it more likely that college students will complete their degree within four to six years.
  3. Save for college. The rate of tuition inflation is declining, but the costs of college are still high. High school students tend to work jobs rather than apply for internships because they want to save for college. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that about 60% of high school internships are paid positions. According to Zip Recruiter, paid high school interns earn an average of $18 per hour, making them higher earning positions than the typical high school job.

The benefits of mentorships for students also prepare you for college and career, but in a different way. Mentors can help you explore career options and academic interests. The biggest benefit of mentorship programs is preparation for the admissions process and campus life. Mentorships also offer an important benefit not found with internships. Studies by the University of Cambridge and others show that mentorships reduce anxiety and increase confidence for better academic and career outcomes.

Mentors may crop up during extracurricular activities or through high school internships, but mentorship itself doesn’t give you experience. While both internships and mentorships are beneficial, many teens do not have time to maintain both relationships. 

Benefits of internships and mentorships

An internship mentorship program that combines these benefits is best and is offered by NSHSS and partnering organizations. Although they are very different programs, internships and mentorships share some benefits. These include:

  • Building a network of academics and professionals to support you throughout your education and career
  • Improving interpersonal communication skills and reducing social anxiety
  • Gaining confidence in the ability to successfully complete a college degree program

NSHSS recommends both internships and mentorships when possible. NSHSS and our partners provide resources for high school student internships and mentorships. The best way to take advantage of both internships and mentorships is through NSHSS membership.