Did you know that 70% of colleges consider internships during application review? As the parent of a high schooler navigating the college application maze, you know every step counts. Summer internships offer a powerful edge, fostering career exploration, building valuable skills, and strengthening college applications.

Internships aren’t just about reading job descriptions. They propel your teen into the heart of a chosen field. Imagine them assisting a marketing team with social media campaigns or shadowing a veterinarian during animal exams. These firsthand experiences provide invaluable insights, shaping their career aspirations.

Moreover, internships equip students with practical skills that can’t be learned in a classroom. Whether it’s coding, writing, or even basic workplace etiquette, these skills will embellish their college applications and prepare them for future job markets.

At My Ideal College, we believe in experiential learning. Internships align perfectly with our philosophy, allowing students to develop critical thinking, communication, and problem-solving skills – all highly sought after by employers and emphasized in our curriculum.

Discovering Career Passions and Practical Experience

Internships are an excellent way for students to explore potential career paths. Unlike reading about a job or watching related videos, internships provide hands-on experience in a real-world setting. This exposure can be pivotal in helping your teen decide if a particular field is right for them before they commit to a college major.

Moreover, internships equip students with practical skills that can’t be learned in a classroom. Whether it’s coding, writing, or even basic workplace etiquette, these skills will embellish their college applications and prepare them for future job markets.

Finding the Right Internship

Finding an internship that aligns with your teen’s interests requires research and strategy. Here are some steps to guide you:

1.  Identify Interests: Discuss with your teen what they are passionate about. This could be anything from graphic design to environmental science.

2.  Use Available Resources: Leverage resources such as your teen’s high school career counselor, local community boards, and online platforms like LinkedIn and Indeed. Don’t overlook local businesses and non-profits that often seek eager high school interns.

3.  Network: Encourage your teen to talk to teachers, family friends, or connections you have in industries of interest. Networking can often lead to discovering opportunities that aren’t advertised.

Using Networking to Find Internships

Networking is vital in the professional world, and starting early can set your teen up for success. Teach them how to reach out to professionals in their field of interest, whether through social media platforms or local community events. Being proactive can lead to internships and other valuable opportunities like shadowing professionals, which add value to college applications.

Leverage Social Media

Twitter and Instagram: Follow companies and professionals, engage with their posts, and watch for announcements about internships.

Attend Job Fairs and Career Events

Many schools and community centers host job fairs where companies come specifically to meet potential interns. Prepare a resume and practice a brief pitch about your skills and interests.

Engage in Clubs and Extracurricular Activities

Participating in clubs related to your field of interest can lead to networking opportunities. Leaders or guest speakers in these clubs often have industry connections and can provide internship leads.

Reach Out to Local Businesses

Don’t hesitate to walk into local businesses or send emails introducing yourself and asking about internship opportunities. Small businesses especially can offer hands-on experiences where you might gain a lot of responsibility quickly.

Network Through Family and Friends

Ask your relatives and family friends if they know anyone working in your areas of interest. They might be able to introduce you to potential mentors or employers.

Volunteer

Volunteering for organizations or events related to your interests builds your resume and introduces you to people who work in the field.

Join Professional Associations

Some professional groups allow student memberships at a reduced fee or even free. These associations often hold conferences and workshops where you can meet professionals and learn about internship opportunities.

Maximizing the Internship Experience

Securing the internship is just the first step. Here’s how your teen can make the most out of this opportunity:

  • Be Proactive: Don’t wait for instructions. Ask insightful questions, volunteer for tasks, and express a willingness to learn new things. Go beyond assigned tasks. Ask their supervisor if there are additional projects they can contribute to. Shadow colleagues in different departments to gain a broader understanding of the organization.
  • Set SMART Goals: Encourage your teen to set Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound goals for the internship. For example, a goal could be “Learn and become proficient in using XYZ software by the end of the internship.”
  • Reflect and Record: Advise your teen to keep a journal of their internship experiences. Documenting what they learn daily can be helpful when updating their resume or writing college application essays. This will also help them identify areas where they excelled.

Using Internships for Growth Beyond the Resume

While internships do enhance a resume, their value extends much further. They allow your teen to grow in confidence, maturity, and professional acumen. Discuss with your teen how to approach every task with a learning mindset, not just as a step toward college acceptance.

By helping your teen seek out and maximize internship opportunities, you’re not just aiding in their college admissions process but also supporting their development into curious, driven, and skilled young adults.  My Ideal College’s career center offers valuable resources to help students find internships and develop strong applications. They can also connect with alumni mentors who can provide guidance and industry insights. Start the conversation today, and watch them grow into their potential tomorrow.