School is out and summer is here! These two months are traditionally a time for family vacations, backyard barbecues, and adventures with friends. While these are valuable experiences, it’s also important to be intentional about your summer — think of it as an opportunity to prepare for the college admissions process that will happen during the fall of your senior year. The better you plan your summers, the more eye-catching your college applications will be. There are many summer activities to consider, including standardized test preparation, summer classes online or at a local community college, academic and leadership-oriented summer programs, internships, independent projects, and the continuation of existing extracurriculars, community service, and sports.
One of the best ways to make your summer activities meaningful is to secure an internship. Not only is it a way to explore your interest in a possible career by gaining direct exposure to that field, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to demonstrate experiential learning beyond the classroom — something that’s in growing demand in the realm of college admissions. Today, we cover the two main categories of internships, when to start looking, and how to express your interest in obtaining a position as a high school student.
What kinds of internships are available to me as a high school student?
In general, there are two categories of internships you may want to consider, based on your interests — research internships and clinical or applied internships.
Research internships are primarily conducted in a laboratory setting, often at a university and under the guidance of a professor. In a research internship, you might provide support for the professor with an ongoing project (in which case you’ll likely have the chance to interact with graduate students from whom you can learn a great deal about the college experience and the educational trajectory of someone in that field). You may also be able to work with a professor to develop and carry out a research project of your own.
Clinical or applied internships focus on translating knowledge from theory to practice in real-world settings. These internships cover a variety of settings and roles, including hospitals, doctors’ and dentists’ offices, law firms, accounting firms, and more. In these settings, you may spend more time observing the daily roles and responsibilities of an employee. You might also be assigned to complete basic tasks depending on the nature of the organization for which you are interning, and to report to a supervisor.
Which internship is the best fit for me?
Students who are more interested in working behind-the-scenes tend to gravitate towards research internships, as do students who enjoy detail-oriented tasks and want to learn about the production of knowledge. Research internships can also be a great way to show academic preparedness. If you’re an aspiring pre-med student, for instance, working in a lab signifies to admissions officers that you’ve gained exposure to a critical aspect of medical education and are aware of the intensity involved — something that most students discover for the first time only when they are knee-deep into their first semester of college. If you’ve contributed to any published work, or published findings of your own, you’ll stand out in the applicant pool as well.
Students who prefer to interact with many people on a day to day basis, are energized by immersion in new social situations, and/or who wish to gain professional experience and related workplace skills often seek out clinical or applied internships.
While these two categories of internships may seem rather different from each other, the type of career you are considering does not limit the internships you can consider. A prospective pre-med student may choose to intern as a research assistant (RA) in a lab OR to shadow a physician in a clinic or a hospital. Likewise, an aspiring economics major would benefit from exposure to a professional setting such as an accountant’s office, or from assisting on economics research at a university. Both types of internships provide excellent networking opportunities that will be valuable in the college admissions process and beyond.
When selecting the best internship for you, consider your current strengths and the skills you wish to develop. At the Admission Masters, we’ve connected hundreds of students with internship opportunities at universities including UCLA and USC, in addition to a variety of clinical settings ranging from hospitals to clinics, law firms, and business offices. Obtaining an internship isn’t always intuitive, but we’re here to help you identify your personal and professional goals, and to walk you through every step of the process to landing an internship that will make your summer activities shine!
College Admission Consulting Group, ‘Admission Masters’
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