One of the best ways to explore career interests is through on-the-job experience. Internships are a great way to see a career first hand, make contacts, create network opportunities, and gain valuable workforce skills for now and further down the road. While some internships are paid, the main focus is real-world experience and connecting with a mentor to help you along your career path.
Finding the internship takes a little bit of work on your part, but the Internet is an amazing resource. Tons of lists and links to individual internships are only a Google search away. Rochester Institute of Technology maintains an extensive list of co-op/internship opportunities for high school students (surprisingly, RIT itself is not on the list). Many students find internships through their parents’ friends, colleagues, and neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask these people if they have an internship program at their workplace. Your guidance counselor may also have a list of local internship opportunities.
Internships are competitive; apply to more than one program to increase your chances of being accepted. Take the application process seriously, and thoroughly read all of the criteria to make sure you have included all the items required. You may be asked for a phone or in-person interview. A March 2010 article from CBS news has a quick list of six tips to land a summer internship. (Once you get past the first paragraph’s gloom and doom job outlook, you’ll find pretty good advice.) The office website of the Governor of Massachusetts also has a terrific list of internship advice and assistance. Along with links to resume and application help, the site reminds students to be flexible, manage expectations, and remember to dress and act professionally.
Go out and find the perfect internship to explore your career choices – and let us know how it goes!