Why Are Internships Important?

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High school student internships are available to students as early as their freshman year, but many parents are unaware of these opportunities. NSHSS is working with high schools nationwide to improve internship programs and build relationships with area businesses. One of the benefits of NSHSS membership is access to and networking for high school internship opportunities. 

Even though 70% of students surveyed by American Student Assistance said they were interested in internship opportunities, only 34% of students were aware of such opportunities in their community. Even more rare are high school students choosing internships over traditional employment, which stands at around 2% of all students. 

One of the biggest reasons high school internships have not become more common is that students and parents are unaware of the benefits of high school student internships for college admissions. Here are the three main benefits of interning at the high school level.

Meet the 8 career readiness competencies required by both employers and college admissions officers.

The National Association for Colleges and Employers believe eight key competencies make high school students likely to succeed in academia and beyond. The 8 key career readiness competencies are:

  • Self-development
  • Communication skills
  • Critical thinking
  • Equity and inclusion
  • Leadership skills
  • Professionalism
  • Teamwork
  • Technology

The most important of these which many students are lacking is communication skills. So much coursework is done electronically, even when students are attending school in person. High school students may have very good writing skills but completely lack interpersonal communication and oration skills. High school internships strengthen these competencies, which clearly show through during college admissions interviews.

The Intern Group is an NSHSS partner working to increase the availability and awareness of high school internships across the United States. This is just one of the programs available to high school interns and the companies that employ them. NSHSS membership also leads to networking that improves chances of landing a paid internship.

Show commitment to your field of study.

According to data from the US Department of Education, 30% of college students change their major at least once during their academic career. Because of this, many high schools are pushing career-oriented course selection starting as soon as the 8th or 9th grade. The resulting enhanced courses give students a more real-world approach to learning, but they are no substitute for high school student internships.

Real-world experience as an intern in high school followed by a declared major in the same field shows admissions officers that you are committed to your career path and the education that will get you there. This increases the likelihood that you will successfully complete your degree program. 

Build a network of references for college admission applications.

All colleges require references on admissions applications, and most expect to see one or two letters of recommendation. These references and recommendations are more important with more prestigious schools in which the competition is great. 

High school internships allow opportunities to get letters of recommendation relating to your abilities and competencies in the specific degree program you are seeking. A student that holds a summer internship throughout each year of high school could have at least 4 quality letters of recommendation before applying to colleges. 

These internships will also help you build a network far beyond high school. The Society of Human Resource Management found that 70% of employers offer college internships to their high school interns, with 40% of high school internships eventually leading to full-time jobs. This has benefits for the college as well because it fosters relationships with companies likely to improve the hiring rates of graduates. This is a big selling point for many institutions, and they are always looking for ways to expand their reach.

Be ready with the beginnings of a financial plan.

This is the most overlooked of the benefits of internships for college admissions. The cost of college is decreasing, but the ability to pay for school is an important factor in college admissions. High school internships lead to funds for the school in several ways. Contrary to popular belief, about 60% of all internships in the US are paid jobs. According to Zip Recruiter, the average hourly pay for a summer high school internship is $18 per hour. This money can be saved toward college to reduce financial need.

High school internships also give you hands-on experience that other college freshmen lack. This allows you to command a better position and better rate for work-study arrangements. The more you can benefit the college through your work-study efforts the more attractive your application will be. 

Finally, most of the companies that hire high school and college interns offer scholarships and tuition reimbursement for the most promising of their interns. Earning these scholarships increases your financial aid package and shows admissions officers that you are prepared to excel in your field.