Land A High-Paying Internship As Your First Job
An internship is something highly sought-after by college students, seeing as how it provides valuable hands-on job experience. By the time I got to college, I had a leg up on my peers, as I had already worked as an intern when I was in high school.
Working as an intern during the summer after my junior year of high school at a leading global credit reporting agency was an amazing and truly enriching experience. Being a paid intern was the cherry on top of the entire experience.
Sometimes I feel like people hear the word “intern” and automatically think that it means free employee.
But students and teens have needs and responsibilities, too, which is why I love paid internships so much. The summer after my junior year of high school, I interned full-time for a company called Dun and Bradstreet at their corporate suburban office.
I received $13 per hour – more than what I earned hourly at jobs I took after my internship – and the company also paid for my monthly train pass.
While I learned more about the company history, shadowed employees, and took on responsibilities within the company, I also learned how to budget the money I was earning and start my first savings account.
I was living with my parents at the time, and I didn’t have many responsibilities, but it gave me an authentic experience of what a true job was like.
Needless to say, the summer before my senior year rocked, and I realized that I didn’t have to work a typical part-time summer job like everyone else.
By landing a paid internship while in high school, you are able to earn money, gain valuable experience, and build connections.
Here are a few ways to land your first paid internship in high school, along with a few leads to consider for opportunities:
Join a Training Program
This is how I landed my paid internship: I was sitting at a table with my friends during lunch when I saw a man walking from table to table talking to students. He finally reached my table and introduced himself as the representative of a youth leadership development organization that helped prepare teens and young adults for professional work.
The program, which was called the Developmental School of Youth, required students to meet once per week to attend lectures and presentations conducted by various different corporate professionals in order to learn more about the workplace. At the end of the program, students were placed in paid internship positions for the summer with a company within the area.
I was eager to join the free program and that’s how I was placed at Dun and Bradstreet. In this case, I’m happy the opportunity came to me, but it’s important to seek out opportunities like this on your own, as well, by contacting counselors at your school to ask them if your community offers any similar programs.
The Developmental School for Youth is run through an organization called All Stars Project, Inc., which has programs in major cities across the nation like Chicago, Newark, San Francisco, Dallas, New York, Atlanta, and more.
Many internships are advertised online. You can use popular sites like Internships.com, LookSharp.com, and InternshipPrograms.com and filter the search results to pull up paid opportunities that might interest you.
Network Within Your Community
There are probably several other programs like All Stars Project out there, but you just need to do your research and ask around in your community. Once you know what your interests are and what type of experience you are looking for, ask people at your school, former students, current and previous coaches, and leaders of community organizations if they have any leads for you.
Pitch to Companies You’d Like to Work For
This is something I might have done had I known paid internships were widely available for high school students.
If there’s a company that you admire or would love to work for, consider reaching out to someone on the team by sending a pitch inquiring about a paid internship position.
Send a resume, along with references, and explain your assets and what you hope to gain from an internship experience. Be willing to negotiate the rate and see what they say.
Money Isn’t Everything
When you have little to no work experience, an internship sounds like an awesome opportunity, whether or not it’s paid. Plus, as a high school student, money should be on the lower end of your worries, as your education should be the main priority.
However, companies are paying interns, and no matter how young you are, getting paid for the work you do feels great. If it’s a choice, always go after a paid internship opportunity. The earlier you earn and learn money lessons, the better your future will be.
Organizations and Leadership Programs for Teens: