Internships can help teens become job ready by developing workforce readiness skills and making connections that could lead to future employment.
The transition from high school or college to “what’s next” can be intimidating for many teens, especially as you’re taking on more adult responsibilities that will shape your future.
When you’re just out of school, you may have questions like:
An internship or a part time job is a great way to explore career interests to see if they’re a good fit for you. You’ll also make connections and build skills to be job ready.
So what’s the difference between an internship and a part time job? Part-time jobs are paid work experiences across a set number of hours, less than a full-time, traditional 40-hour work week. Part-time jobs can also range across experience levels and skill sets based on the work.
An internship is usually work experience (unpaid or paid) toward the beginning of someone’s career where you are learning the ropes of that industry – and it’s a great way to network, add experience to your resume and see if this type of work is the right fit for you.
Tasks at an internship will depend on the company, but regardless of your age or the field you’re interning in, you’ll learn what the company is like, what type of work employees do and how everyone’s efforts ladder up to the organization’s goals.
Some teens start as early as high school with summer internships. Getting an internship early is a great way to explore a potential major or field that you are interested in pursuing but don’t know much about, in addition to keeping engaged and learning during the summer months between school years.
As an added bonus to learning workplace readiness skills, sometimes internships can lead to teens finding a great mentor to help steer them in the right career direction.
After all, in an internship, you’ll meet all kinds of people, potentially even the owners or different leaders at the organization, and as well as potentially get experience working with customers and clients.
For college students, an internship can also be a game changer for securing a full-time job once you graduate. Working an internship during your college years may open the door to full-time employment with that company or help connect you to other job openings so that you have something lined up after graduation day.
In an effort to achieve greater equity, many companies now offer paid internships. This will usually be clear in the job description but be sure to confirm during your interview (just make sure it’s not the only question you ask!).
When applying for an internship, it’s important to know what fields interest you. Nonprofit vs. for-profit, desk jobs or more active jobs, what skills you want to learn, etc. should all factor into your internship search.
Workforce readiness programs at Boys & Girls Clubs help today’s teens explore career options and build skills to support their success – including helping connect youth to first job and internship opportunities. Through tools like Roadmap to Careers, supported by Navient, youth can explore careers and industries of interest, which can be helpful when starting to research internship opportunities.
Before applying for an internship, consider taking these steps:
When searching for potential internships, check out websites like LinkedIn, Indeed and Monster to help you secure your next internship. Be sure to check out the career pages on company websites of companies you’re interested in. Ask around at your school, church, sports teams or clubs – you never know who might be aware of a company open to hiring teens.
Pro Tip: While not usually required in a job application, a cover letter written to a potential employer can go a long way in sharing your personality, why you’re passionate about this opportunity and what skills you’ll bring to the internship. You can also go into the details of your resume in a more personal way – highlighting your volunteering, job shadowing experiences or involvement in large school projects that you're proud of.
Lastly, make sure you’re well prepared for your interview – check out these interview tips to know what to expect, what to do and how to follow up afterward to ensure you get the internship.
What is LinkedIn?
LinkedIn is a social networking platform designed specifically for the professional community. This resource can be helpful for all kinds of people, whether you’re a student looking for an internship opportunity, a professional seeking a job, or anyone looking for a place to meet like-minded people who can help you identify your career interests.
Tips for using LinkedIn to find an internship or job opportunity:
Step 1: Have a professional photo ready.
The first step in setting up a LinkedIn profile is to take a professional headshot. Smart phone photography using Portrait mode can be your best friend these days, but this shouldn’t be a selfie (no angles or funny facial expressions needed!).
This is the first thing that employers see, so you want to make sure that you look your best and are dressed professionally, but also showcasing your authentic self.
Step 2: Visit the website and sign up.
On LinkedIn.com, you’ll create a log in to gain access to the platform, so that you can make your profile and search for companies and opportunities.
Step 3: Build your profile.
Once you upload your photo, you will be guided to a subpage where you can input what exactly you are looking to use LinkedIn for, and what your skill set/interests are.
The “headline” part of LinkedIn will appear directly under your name and people usually use it to display their current job title or what they’re looking for. If you are looking for an internship, you might put that into your headline so that recruiters can reach out to you directly – for example, you could enter “Motivated High Schooler Seeking Part-Time Internship.”
Be sure to fill out your academic and career experience. You can include experiences at school or in your community that share your strengths. For example, it’s ok to list involvement in clubs, sports or service organizations.
Pro Tip: Utilize your resume as a cheat sheet, you can then easily copy and paste descriptions directly into your “Experience” section!
Step 4: Make connections.
Once your profile is ready, start adding people to your network. It can feel intimidating at first wondering “who exactly is my network?” If you’re a student, start by adding teachers, professors, coaches, counselors and mentors who have worked with you in the past. Neighbors and members of your community can also be helpful LinkedIn connections.
Feel free to send them a message and let them know you’re seeking an internship or employment. They might know someone in their network who might be a good fit for an area that you’re interested in.
Step 5: Search for (and apply for) internships.
You can also search directly for internships on the LinkedIn platform and see job descriptions. Many companies post their internship and job applications directly on LinkedIn so you can apply quickly through the platform itself.
Internships are not only great preparation for jobs, they’re also a strong stepping stone for navigating college and shaping what you want to do next. Whether you’re applying and interviewing for colleges, deciding which majors might interest you, or landing a job to help pay for expenses – an internship can help you with it all!
Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Navient partner to support today’s youth in being ready for life after school. Navient provides technology-enabled education finance and business processing solutions that simplify complex programs and help millions of people achieve success. As a supporter of Boys & Girls Clubs of America since 2021, Navient provides access to post-secondary education and financial readiness tools to young people nationwide, ensuring teens have the skills and experiences to thrive in their studies, in the workforce and in life.
Boys & Girls Clubs provide mentorship, programs and meaningful life experiences that build youth confidence and prepare the leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers of tomorrow. Sign up for our newsletter to receive the latest resources and stories.