The word “internships” is synonymous with the college experience. Believe it or not, high school internships are a thing! If your high school student is set on continuing their STEM education after graduation, there are valuable STEM internships for high school students that can boost their college application, future employment resume, and their confidence in the workplace.
Some of these STEM internships are paid. (So their summer job may not have them coming home smelling like French fries after all!) These internships are offered by companies, universities, and laboratories that understand the value of a highly skilled workforce in the science and technology sectors. Oftentimes this internship serves as a paid position that eventually becomes a full-time post-college job.
The paid internship for inexperienced high school students seems like a waste to an outsider. But the truth is – these labs, universities, and companies are offering highly specialized STEM learning and occupational training geared directly toward their sector. This sets them up to bring on a “new employee” with excellent leadership skills, who is now over-qualified to contribute to their company. While there’s no guarantee that volunteer or paid internships always end up in employment, the probability is high and benefits both the intern and the organization running the program.
What are STEM internships for high school students?
If you have never participated in an internship, you might not even know exactly what an internship is. A high school internship program agrees to take students, usually high school juniors and seniors, and take them into the company for a predetermined amount of time as an intern. An intern is like an employee, but not quite. They probably still get cake in the breakroom, but they’re ineligible for dental benefits – hey, braces are expensive.
Sometimes participants are paid an actual income. Sometimes the interns agree to participate in the STEM internships on a volunteer basis (where they are essentially paid in experience and resume padding).
Webster’s definition of an intern is: an advanced student or graduate usually in a professional field (such as medicine or teaching) gaining supervise d practical experience (as in a hospital or classroom).
STEM internships for high school students are more difficult to find than internships for undergrads. This is sometimes because of legal age loopholes, but also because it’s more likely that an intern will choose to apply to work for the STEM company they’ve interned with after college if they’re almost ready to begin their career. High school seniors are just a few steps further away from starting their careers, and this leads many companies to only offer their fellowships and internship opportunities to graduate and post-graduate students.
6 Benefits of Taking on a STEM internship
The benefits of STEM internships for high school students go far beyond a summer job at the local ice cream stand (but sadly you will have to pay full retail price for the chunky monkey in the waffle cone – take the good with the bad people.) Even an unpaid high school internship can be more beneficial than you realize. Let’s look at some of the obvious, and maybe not so obvious reasons why a summer internship might be the best decision your high school STEM student could make:
Learn New Skills
Even a STEM proficient high school student only knows what’s been handed to them in high school. Their internship might teach them new skills they haven’t been exposed to, or polish skills and knowledge they already have. The best part? Those new skills are going to be career-specific, and they will have real-world application!
Realistic Job Interview Experience
Depending on the internship, many interns are required to go through some kind of interview during the application and vetting process. This interview prepares them for dressing, arriving, and handling themselves professionally in a realistic job interview experience.
Network With Industry Professionals
Every professional knows how important networking is. High school internships connect high school students with industry professionals. High school students build and strengthen relationships with the people they see each day. These professionals often become mentors, teachers, and even friends. Your high school student can enter the job force with a network of industry professionals that they can collaborate with on future projects, and seek out career guidance.
A recent survey by BestColleges indicates that around 61% of college graduates would change their major if they could go back and do it over again. That’s a pretty surprising statistic, and could probably be cut back dramatically if every college freshman had experienced a high school internship in the career they planned on majoring in. Most students don’t even realize that they don’t like their career choice until they’re knee-deep in advanced training with two to three years of pre-requisite classes under their belt.
A high school internship could give your graduate an idea of whether or not they are truly interested in their prospective STEM field.
Pad Your Portfolio, and Ramp Up Your Resume
Ok, follow along here for a second – Colleges love statistics that make them look good. One of these statistics is their graduation rate. But college is hard, right? Not everyone makes it to the end. So one of the qualities colleges look for in an applicant is the likelihood that they will see this education thing through to the end. It’s why completing an experience like an internship (which isn’t always a walk in the park) looks so good on a college application. It shows your dream school that you’re willing to put in the work to see it through until the end.
In addition to being a shining beacon of responsibility on your college application, an internship in a relevant career field can set you apart when applying for jobs after college.
Get Paid For Your STEM Learning
One of the most obvious STEM internship benefits is the paycheck that some of these programs carry. Getting a summer job is a right of passage for high school students – but bagging groceries and flipping burgers are more common than a stint in a research lab, space flight center, or a hospital. How amazing an opportunity to save for college while you train for college. Now not all internships tout rewards in the form of a paycheck, but the experience is sometimes payment enough.
What are the best ways to find the perfect STEM internship for you?
High school students have a lot on their plate. Students have the epic college hunt, social requirements, and academics as well as sports. They’re learning how to drive, how to prepare for adulthood, and at the same time making future plans. Students who are serious about their STEM education put a significant amount of time into their studies. Where will they find the time to find and apply to a high school internship program? Is it hard to find an internship?
Most students and parents don’t even know where to start to find a high school internship opportunity. (Don’t worry – Thimble is your time-saving, STEM learning headquarters – and we’ve got your back.)
Our team here at Thimble thinks STEM learning excellence should be a priority way before college. We decided that if we can use our research experience to help your high schooler land an amazing opportunity under the guidance of a mentor, then we’re going to make it happen. Here are some good places to start in your search for a great program for your high school student.
Personal Network of Contacts
The very first (and most obvious) source of information on your STEM internship hunt should be your child’s school. Their faculty (specifically biology, physics, mathematics, and/or chemistry teachers) may have connections with local companies or research facilities that would offer an internship to a high school student, or at the very least unpaid volunteer opportunities. Guidance counselors are also a great place to start. They may have an entire swipe file of summer programs and STEM internships for high school students – and hopefully all of the application deadline information as well.
After all, their teachers are currently the people who have the most time and interest vested in your child’s STEM education. If they can help your student – we trust that they will!
Local Online Search
You can use a simple Google search to broaden your horizons for STEM internship possibilities. Search for programs through Google using the name of your city. You can even search for companies that work specifically in your child’s area of interest and reach out to them directly to inquire about whether they have a high school internship program or a student mentorship program. If you’re from Pittsburgh, just type in “STEM internships for high school students in Pittsburgh.” (FYI – I just Googled this, and it looks like Allegheny Health Network offers a great STEM internship for high school students called the “Health Discovery Program”. It’s a paid internship that provides experience and research opportunities in healthcare for all you Yinzers!)
Maybe they don’t have any specific STEM internships for high school students, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t willing to create an opportunity that’s tailored for your student.
If your high school internship search is still at a standstill after searching locally and talking with your close contacts, consider some of the websites out there that are dedicated to organizing and publishing all the necessary information for the best STEM internships for high school students. These sites typically compile all times of fellowships, internships, and summer programs (not just STEM internships). Be sure when searching that you ask yourself the right questions to make sure you qualify. Some internships are only available to undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in college coursework.
Thimble has explored the web and found these 8 sites that are excellent places to find STEM internships and opportunities.
Internships.com allows you to search by city and matches high school students with internships they may be eligible for. Quickly register and get started searching!
ZipRecruiter.com isn’t just for job hunters. There are internships for high school students and college undergrads both on this site. The aforementioned internship with Allegheny Health Network in Pittsburgh was laid out on Zip recruiter and came up right away in our quick Google search.
Talent.com allows you to quickly type in “high school internships” and your city of choice and get started with your search.
LinkedIn is a treasure trove of internship opportunities. It’s also the social media platform preferred by most professionals, and it would be beneficial to learn the ins and outs of the program before entering the professional arena.
Wayup was the website formerly known as InternMatch.com and has internship and job listings as well.
Idealist allows you to search for jobs and internships for high school students by applying filters to results, narrowing down the options to fit what you’re looking for.
GlassDoor isn’t all about revealing workplace culture. It is a place to harvest internship opportunities and jobs as well.
Tallo matches students with fulfilling apprenticeship programs and internships with great companies.
How to Find Out if a High School STEM Internship is Right For You: Asking All the Right Questions
Just like choosing a career, choosing an internship is important. It could be your last summer before college, and you want to make sure you don’t spend it wastefully. Choose a STEM internship that will further your confidence, STEM education, leadership skills, and abilities. You’ll be able to use this experience as content for scholarship essays, college application essays, and a job application bonus.
Don’t necessarily jump on the first internship you find. Compare multiple opportunities to find out which one seems like it’s the best fit, and don’t be afraid to pass on something that clearly isn’t appealing. The bottom line is: make sure it’s what you want, and worth your time. (After all, you don’t want to end your internship wishing you’d flipped burgers instead. Ketchup stains y’all.)
Questions to Make Note Of:
What is the application process?
What is the deadline for application submissions?
- Is there a cost to participate?
Is this a paid opportunity?
What reliable transportation will I have lined up for this opportunity? (Not showing up is not an option if you land a coveted spot in an internship.)
What exactly will I be doing and learning during my time?
Is this program part of a University, or a for-profit company?
Is this internship in a STEM field that I can see myself in in the future?
Top 10 STEM Internships for High School Students
What are the best internships for high school students? There is no right answer to this question. It really depends on your career goals and STEM education interests. Thimble has compiled some of the most well-rounded high school internships from an array of STEM interests. This is not a complete list of STEM internships for high school students, so if none of the following internships feels right for you or your student, follow some of our guidelines above for finding additional opportunities!
Note: Many of these internships might look different in the summer of 2021 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Expect some in-person internships to move to a more remote model.
This is one of those STEM internships for high school students from anywhere in the U.S. or Canada. Many high school internship programs are only available to students local to the organization. Even Microsoft’s internship program is only open to students who live within 50 miles of Redmond, Washington.
Google markets this internship program as “intensive, interactive, hands-on and fun.”. This internship is a 3-week summer introduction to computer science.
This internship program is 3 weeks long and takes place between early July and mid-August.
There is no cost to apply for this program. For commuting students participating, travel, housing, and meal stipends are available.
Potential Interns Must:
Be a current high school senior
Intend to enroll in a 4-year bachelors program in the US or Canada
Intend to major in CS, computer engineering, or software engineering
Be able to attend CSSI for the duration of the program. (the full 3 weeks)
The application process is currently closed for the 2021 internship. Fittingly, interested applicants can fill out a -you guessed it – Google form to be notified when applications are again being accepted.
If you’ve ever wondered, “How do I get into NASA?”, we suggest starting with a high school internship. NASA’s STEM Internships for high school students are specifically geared toward training a highly-skilled future work-force in the study of space, astronomy, and aeronautics. Participants in this high school internship will be involved in research and experimental learning under the mentorship of a NASA professional. This is an incredible internship that requires no prior experience.
There are three sessions of this internship program, each with its own application deadline. The deadline for the spring session has already passed. But fear not high school astronauts! The summer 2021 session has an application deadline of March 5, and the fall 2021 session has an application deadline of July 9th.
There is no cost to apply, and most interns receive a stipend award. Interns are responsible, however, for arranging and paying for their own housing.
Potential Interns Must:
Be a US citizen
Be a full-time student
Have a GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale
Be at least 16 years old at the time of application
To apply for this internship program, students must visit NASA’s OSSI site and register.
This is one of the most well-rounded STEM internships for high school students. It really focuses on multiple facets of STEM education from math, and biology, to research and physics. One of the purposes of SAMS is to increase the chance that participants will commit to following a path to a STEM-related discipline.
This internship seeks to prepare students and their families to transition from high school to college. It puts focus on college application prep, as well as family support sessions for financial aid and student loans.
These applications are accepted until March 10, 2021. Decisions will be made on April 14th. This internship program runs from July 3, 2021, to December of 2021 in 3 distinct sections. An academic section, a weeklong summit and symposium, and a lengthy period from August to December where participants connect with alumni, mentors, financial aid, faculty, and staff.
There is no application fee or deposit for the Summer Academy for Math and Science. No cost for housing, tuition, or dining in 2021, as the experience is likely to be remote. Students are responsible, however, for the cost of books and supplies.
Potential Interns Must:
Be a US citizen
Be 16 years old by the program start date
Be a current sophomore or junior
Applicants must complete an online application, submit one letter of recommendation from a teacher and one letter of recommendation from a counselor. Applicants must complete an essay and submit an unofficial transcript.
This high school internship program is open to graduate and undergraduate students, as well as upper-level high school students. If you’re interested in seeking employment in a job that deals with the science and engineering of defense, munitions, and Air Force research and technologies, this is the internship for you! You’ll be working with full-time Air Force Research Lab scientists on research projects, technology development, and day to day activities in the AFRL. **Note: You’ll have to obtain Secret Security Clearance to participate!
Internships are typically 10-12 weeks long, with the next internship cycle occurring in the summer of 2021.
High school students are receiving a stipend of $420+ per week. There may be a small fee for background checks and clearances. Students are responsible for their housing and travel expenses.
Potential Interns Must:
Be a US citizen
Be an upper-level high school student
Intend to pursue a STEM degree
Have a 3.0 GPA
Be 16 years of age with a valid driver’s license
Be available for a 40 hour/week internship
Register and complete the application process
Pass the Secret Security Clearance
Applying for this high school internship is a piece of cake with this timeline infographic that outlines the application process step-by-step. Visit AFLR’s Student Scholars Portal to begin the application process.
The United States Navy has 30+ participating labs across the country taking in around 300 internship positions nationwide. This is one of few STEM internships for high school students that is even open to sophomore students. An 8-week science and engineering program – a perfect high school internship for students who want to pursue a career in military and defense research, engineering, and technology. This realistic career experience includes 40 hours per week, five days per week of participation. (Nothing like getting used to that daily grind nice and early! Mondays will take on a whole new meaning. If nothing else, maybe an internship will make your teenager appreciate your hectic work schedule.)
This internship occurs mid-summer of 2021. Dates are set and cannot be changed. Applications opened up on September 1, 2020, and the deadline was November 30th. Though the application cycle is now closed, interested participants can be notified via email as soon as the applications are being accepted again.
New interns are paid $3500 in stipends, deposited bi-weekly with direct deposit. Returning interns are paid a stipend of $4000. Students are responsible for housing, transportation, and meal costs.
Potential Interns Must:
Be a US citizen
Be a rising 10th grader, 11th grader, or 12th grader.
Be 16 years old with a work permit (or 15 years old at some labs. This information can be found on the website.)
This application process is all online. Create a login and follow the instructions. Transcripts are an extremely important part of this application process.
Broad Institute’s “Broad Summer Scholars Program”
Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard focuses on human health, genomics, and biology. The notoriety of these two institutions of higher education makes this STEM internship for high school students a beacon of excellence among the internship options listed here. This is a great internship program for any student aiming to attend medical school or intending to major in neuroscience, genetics, biotechnology, or biochemistry.
The application deadline for this internship program is January 22, 2021. The program itself runs from June 28 – August 6th, 2021.
There is no cost to apply to this internship program. Travel expenses may be partially reimbursed, depending on the situation.
Potential Interns Must:
Be a rising high school senior.
Attend a high school in the greater Boston area of Massachusetts.
Have earned a B or better in Math and Science Class, and be excited about math and/or science.
Complete the application process by the deadline.
Eligible participants can apply online, and provide two references.
The National Aquarium’s Henry Hall Fellowship Program
This is one of the most lengthy STEM fellowship programs available within the constraints of our research. This program is offered by the National Aquarium in honor of Henry Hall, a philanthropist, engineer, and aquarist who left a lasting legacy. The program is FOUR YEARS LONG. (This is a ginormous – a very scientific word – amount of investigation, research, and enrichment. There aren’t many programs that provide such extensive experience.) It doesn’t appear to be a paid program but is an amazing opportunity for students interested in marine biology, watershed, or ocean science. This program is overseen by Symone Johnson – Check her out here, and prepare to be impressed (especially if you’re a shark week fan!).
The program is broken up into four annual sections that recycle through themselves each year, with returning students mentoring and guiding incoming fellows.
June-August: Program Onboarding
September – December: Topical Sessions and Skill Building
January – May: Action Projects and Public Art Installations
May-August: Project Completion and Community Engagement
This program is free to participate in. It is not a residential program, so there are no housing or meal costs.
Potential Interns Must:
Be in grades 10-12
Be able to participate in this program at the Main Aquarium Campus in Baltimore, MD.
For more information on the application for this fellowship, contact the National Aquarium in Baltimore Maryland directly.
This STEM internship seems so fitting this summer, as we’ve all spent the last year mitigating a disease that has completely rocked the entire world. Accepted high school students will receive unprecedented (sorry – that word just comes out when COVID is mentioned) immersion in one of the most prestigious biomedical research programs in the country. They will be surrounded by some of the world’s leading scientists who can pass down STEM learning through hands-on involvement in real research.
The application deadline for this high school STEM internship is February 1st. The program itself has three orientation dates: June 4th, 11th, and 14th. The program typically lasts 8 weeks.
There is no cost to apply, but there is a stipend of $2,000/month for high school students.
Potential Interns Must:
Be 17 years old by June 15, 2021
Be a junior or senior in high school at the time of application
Live within 40 miles of the NIH campus on which they will intern
Be a US citizen or permanent resident
Pass a federal background check
This high school internship program is a collaboration between the NOAA and the CSC and focuses on geoscience fields. Not only does this program include an incredible amount of experience and information, but also has a great compensation package for participants. This 6-week internship includes a college math credit, 6 weeks of hands-on learning, bi-weekly seminars, travel to and from the campus, as well as housing and meal coverage. As if that wasn’t enough, participants also receive a stipend of $500 per week.
The deadline for application is April 23rd, 2021. The program itself will run for six weeks in the summer of 2021.
The application process involves a free account on Formsite. There are really only monetary perks for this STEM internship.
Potential Interns Must:
Graduating High School Seniors
Plan to pursue a career in a geoscience field such as:
Civil, electrical, environmental, or ocean engineering
Complete the application in full and the required essay
The application materials need to be turned in by the deadline. The materials include the application as well as forms completed by parents, teachers, and counselors. See the application for this high school STEM internship program here.
We may have saved the best for last. We love this particular high school STEM internship for several reasons. Our love list (should we have made these bullet points hearts?):
This internship is for EARLY high school students. This means it’s open to students in 9th and 10th grade. This can put quality research and development enrichment in the hands of 14-year-olds. At Thimble, we know starting young is one of the best things that can happen to a STEM learner.
This internship is paid. What 14-year-old do you know that can land a fancy summer job like this?
There is a strong robotics undertone at some of MITRE’s internship locations. We know we’re biased, but We. Heart. Robotics.
This internship has six locations across the US, making this feasible for so many young people.
The application deadline for the MITRE Corporation’s STEM internships for high school students is February 15th. The internship dates vary by location, but most sessions begin in June 2021.
This internship costs nothing to apply for, and it is a paid internship. You are likely to be responsible for any travel fees. MITRE does not provide housing.
Potential Interns Must:
Be US Citizens
Be a rising 10th or 11th-grade student at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year
Be at least 14 years old before June 1st, 2021
Minimum 3.0 GPA
Interested applicants should check out MITRE’s webpage and choose which MITRE location they want to participate at. Specific application processes are outlined by following the links to each location. Students will be expected to submit a resume, and complete all parts of the application before the deadline.
Strive for Work Experience Early – With High School Internships
Alexis Herman was the 23rd U.S. Secretary of Labor Under President Bill Clinton. She was historically the first woman of color to serve in this position. Her work was all about, well – work! She is quoted as having said, “There is no substitute really for learning about the world of work and being in the world of work. You can do that through internships. You can do it through summer job experiences or even from volunteer jobs in your local community. Strive early to get some kind of practical work experience.”
STEM internships for high school students can be exactly what you need to set you apart from the crowd. Hit the ground running when it comes to chasing the STEM career of your dreams. If you can’t carve out 8 weeks of your summer to devote to 40 hours a week of STEM enrichment, consider investing in Thimble’s curriculum, and learn at your own pace on your own time. Let our experts mentor you through live classes in the comfort of your own home.