How to Find an Internship That Matters

Find the right college for you.

Why Are Internships Worth the Time?

Many college students and recent graduates work as interns. That means they take a temporary job to get hands-on experience, usually in a field they're interested in. College graduates sometimes use internships to start a career. But did you know that you can get an after-school or summer internship while you're still in high school?

How Is Working Unpaid Worth It?

Some internships involve pay, and others are unpaid. But internships offer many benefits besides money. For example, taking an internship can:

Internships offer many benefits besides money. For example, participating in an internship can:

  • Show you what the working world is like.
  • Teach you important skills, such as time management and computer skills.
  • Help you choose a major.
  • Inspire a career choice.
  • Connect you with experienced people who can mentor you.
group of students studying

How to Get Started With an Internship

To begin the process of finding the right internship, think about the fields you want to explore and the skills you want to learn. Do you love photography? Do you want to know what scientific research is like or what a lawyer does all day? Do you want to learn how to build a website?

Having clear goals in mind makes it more likely that you'll find an internship that will excite you.

Where to Look for Internships

Using personal contacts and local resources are two great ways to find an internship. Try these methods for finding opportunities:

  • Ask your high school counselor and teachers for help.
  • Check with your coaches and club advisers.
  • Find out if family and friends know someone in a field that interests you.
  • If there's a specific company or organization you'd like to work for, feel free to contact someone there. Look at the company's website to get the name of a person working in the human resources department.
  • Many high schools have work-based learning programs in which students can work an internship during the school year. Ask caring adults if they know of any internships or if their place of employment hires interns.

Use the Internet

Once you have goals in mind, you can begin looking for an internship online. Start by searching for local businesses and organizations in your areas of interest and see if they offer internship programs. You can also check out these resources:

Once you have goals in mind, you can begin looking for an internship online. Start by searching for local businesses and organizations in your areas of interest to see if they offer internship programs. You can also check out these resources:

How to Approach Your Internship Interview

Whether you decide to pursue a paid or unpaid internship, you'll have to complete an interview. Remember that getting an internship may be the first step on your career path. So you'll want to do everything you can to make a favorable impression on the interviewer. Who knows? That company may offer you a full-time paid position after college graduation. Some helpful tips to keep in mind during the internship interview:

  • Do some research about the company or organization ahead of time to show that you have prepared for the meeting.
  • Show your willingness to learn as much as possible.
  • Be enthusiastic about the business or organization.
  • Ask thoughtful questions about the work you'll be doing.
  • Listen carefully to the interviewer's explanations about the position so you can respond appropriately.

Internship Stories from Real Students

Sufiyan and Kristen each gained a lot from their internship experiences in high school.

Sufiyan Learned New Skills

Sufiyan wanted to earn a little money during the summer after his sophomore year. His school counselor suggested trying a paid internship doing office work at a local environmental organization.

What Sufiyan values most about the experience was learning new skills that he feels will help in college classes and job interviews. He says, "My supervisors taught me how to behave in an office, how to be organized, and how to speak in a professional manner."

Kristen Found Her Major

Kristen liked writing for the school newspaper when she was a high school student, so she took a summer internship at the local newspaper to learn more about journalism.

Her job was to help out in the office, but she convinced the editor to let her do some reporting. Kristen found herself covering everything from rodeos to a local burglary. The experience led her to become a journalism major in college.


What skills can you gain from an internship?

Being an intern can improve your communication and organizational skills. You'll learn how to get along with different types of people in a company or organization. Furthermore, you can observe professionals in their work environment and see how they navigate various projects. What you learn from watching coworkers will help as you start your career journey.

Read more

Do colleges care about internships?

Yes, internships will help you stand out from other college applicants. Working as an intern shows you're interested in taking on responsibility and learning new things. Also, becoming an intern can show admissions officers you're getting a head start on the subject you plan to major in.

Read more

How do I find an internship?

Talk with family members and friends who work at different companies to find an internship opportunity. Or your high school guidance counselor may have some leads on internships and who to contact about them. If you're wondering how to get internships while in college, check out the next career fair. Introduce yourself to several visiting company representatives and speak with them about internship opportunities.

Read more