Internships: everyone hears about them, but few take advantage of the opportunities they possess. In recent years, the emphasis on doing an internship has increased dramatically, whether young or old. The idea of completing an internship can be daunting, especially when you don’t know where to start. I was one of the lucky ones in that I found one while still in high school.
This summer, I was approached with the opportunity of being an intern at Wirestream, a digital agency in Kansas City. Initially, I did not think that interns did much at all in their respective companies, but I soon learned I was waaayyyy wrong and my perceptions on how interns actually participated in real projects for actual clients was incorrect. As a pretty new developer, I thought that it would be an educational and all-around interesting experience (and just really flipping cool to tell your friends). This prediction was correct. I grew in leaps as a developer and had loads of fun while doing it. I am in the minority, though. Many students my age would probably love the chance to participate in an internship like this, but there just aren’t that many out there. So, in the spirit of community, I hope to share my experience and some tips on how to find internships.
You might find yourself asking:
- Why should a high-schooler even look for an internship in the first place if there aren’t enough to go around?
- How would they go about finding one?
- Why should a company even offer internships to high schoolers?
New Skills, New Relationships, And A Network
Gaining new skills and making new relationships are two of the top three things interns look for when applying for internships. A survey done by Millennial Branding and Internships.com reported that 91% of all high schoolers look to gain new skills within an internship. This is especially true in the tech industry due to the fact that acquiring new skills is a must in order to stay relevant within the market. At an internship, a young developer has the opportunity to learn and sharpen their knowledge of code while contributing to the company through working on projects. Coming third on the aforementioned survey, 79% of high school interns desired to build a network while interning. Building a network early enables developers to make contacts which later in life could lead to more internships, a mentor, or possibly a job offer.
Internships offer the very unique experience for the young developer in the form of real world experience. It allows the intern to figuratively “get their fingers wet” before entering into a real world career. Internships teach the developer the innate workings of an office environment such as: culture, communication, planning, and self-actuation. In addition, the developer will be given an environment in which it is safe to fail and learn from their mistakes, which is very helpful in any position in life.
In recent years, internships have become increasingly important in the application process (whether it be a job, future internship, or even some college programs), even to the point of it being a deciding factor between whether a person is chosen or not. This proves the importance of having an internship as a developer. As the technology space becomes more and more competitive, an internship will give you a clear edge against your peers in the eyes of the recruiter, in addition to getting oneself an early start in the technology industry. Additionally, a successful and fruitful internship will give a developer highly valuable references which turn into credibility.
All of this should inspire any student to pursue internships, despite any deterrent. The opportunity of an internship is truly an eye opening experience. It opens doors to new possible career paths while giving the intern a glimpse into professional life. My own internship has been a very eye opening experience because at the beginning of this internship, I did not believe my potential career path would be changed that much. I originally wanted to go into engineering or chemistry but this internship has most definitely changed my opinion. I now want to learn more about technology and see where it takes me, whether that be the USAFA or other colleges.
Do your research. A simple Google search would yield internships.com and other sites and networks that help interns and future employers find each other.
Reach Out To Your Current Network
Currently, internships for high schoolers are very few in number, yet they are out there. It might take a bit of digging and networking to find one. I personally found my internship through my parents and their contacts within the technology world. However, not everyone has the luxury of having a recruiter as a parent. One of the simplest ways to find an internship is simply asking around, whether that be family, friends, mentors, or people you meet who enjoy coding. Do your research. A simple Google search would yield internships.com and other sites and networks that help interns and future employers find each other.
There are multiple ways in which you could contact the places who are offering internships. Possible ways include reaching out directly or possibly consulting a school counselor. Your school, whether it be high school or college, will offer resources, as well. Whether it be in reaching out to the school’s contacts, or getting you in touch with agencies that help, your school is there to train you for life outside of it and is fully equipped to help you look for work and experience. Use it!
Twenty-three percent of companies who offered internships said they offered them to gain new ideas.
Companies Could Use Some Young Developer Blood
As mentioned before, there are currently not many high school developer internships out there. Out of the nearly 4,600 students surveyed by Millennial Branding and Internships.com, only 172 were high school students (3.7%). This shows how small of a number of high school internships there are in general. This is frustrating because companies, especially those in competitive job markets, could benefit greatly from building their talent pool at a young age.
Why should companies offer internships to high schoolers?
The younger the intern, the greater the possibility for these attributes: energy, talent, new ideas, and teaching opportunities (which are important for professionally developing talent from within). As you know, I am sure, us youngsters have a lot of energy. A high schooler will bring energy and liveliness into the workplace since we love to work on anything we can. Give us some actual work and we’ll complete it quite happily. With our energy also comes new ideas in the perspective of a teen which could in turn help the company. Twenty-three percent of companies who offered internships said they offered them to gain new ideas. An internship also gives the employer a recruiting tool for future full-time jobs within their company. 45% of companies surveyed said that the high school internships they offered could later turn into full-time jobs for those who participated. Finally, an internship gives a teaching opportunity for those within the company. If you assign the new dev to a mentor, it teaches the mentor how to properly instruct the intern, especially since we tend to ask a lot of questions.
Daniel participated in Blue Rivet’s 2016 Class of Kansas City Digital Youth