How to Find the Right Internship to Jumpstart Your Career

What is an Internship? 

An internship is a short-term program where a student or a recent graduate works for a company or organization for a period of time to gain practical experience in a specific field or industry. Internships can be either paid or unpaid and are designed to help the intern gain work experience, develop professional skills, and network with professionals in the field. Internships can vary in duration, but typically last from a few weeks to a few months.  

How Is an Internship Different from an Apprenticeship? 

An internship and an apprenticeship are both types of work-based learning programs, but there are some key differences between the two.  

An apprenticeship is a longer-term program that combines on-the-job training with classroom instruction. Apprenticeships are typically offered in skilled trades, such as construction, plumbing, or electrician work, and involve working under the guidance of a skilled professional to learn a trade. Apprenticeships are paid positions, and apprentices earn a wage while they learn. Apprenticeships can last for several years, depending on the trade and the level of training required.  

Finding the Right Internship

Whether you're interested in the trades, healthcare, technology, or any other field, finding the right internship can provide valuable hands-on experience, build your resume, and help you discover your passions and strengths. Here are some tips to help you uncover the right internship for you: 

  • Start with your interests: Think about what you're passionate about and what kind of career you want to pursue. Research companies, organizations, and industries that align with your interests and explore internship opportunities within those fields. ACT’s interest inventory is a great place to start if you’re looking for help connecting your interests with a career!  
  • Network and ask for referrals: Talk to family members, friends, teachers, and guidance counselors (aka, networking!) to see if they know of any internship opportunities or can refer you to someone in the field you're interested in. 
  • Check online job boards: Websites such as Indeed, Glassdoor, and LinkedIn can be great resources for finding internships in your area or in specific industries. Be sure to read the job descriptions carefully and tailor your application materials to each opportunity. 
  • Attend career fairs and events: Career fairs and events are a great way to meet potential employers and learn more about different career paths. Bring copies of your resume and be prepared to ask questions and make connections. 
  • Look for programs and initiatives aimed at high school students: Many companies, organizations, and government agencies offer internship programs specifically for high school students. Research these opportunities and apply early to increase your chances of being accepted. 

Benefits of Completing an Internship

There are many compelling reasons to pursue an internship — from building your skills and learning new information, to exploring your career interests and discovering if a field is a good fit. One of the biggest benefits of an internship is real-world experience. Classroom-learning about what a job entails is a good start, but it is different than solving challenges in a real-world setting and that’s exactly what an internship is designed to give you! You’ll also get experience that will help you build your resume and introduce you to mentors who can help guide your career with advice and support.

Developing the professional skills you’ll use during an internship, like communication, teamwork, time management, and problem-solving, are all necessary for success in any career. Even if your internship turns out to be different than you were hoping, you’ll still come away with deeper knowledge of the field and clearer expectations about the working environment. 

When looking for internships, it's important to keep in mind a few key considerations: 

  • Make sure the internship aligns with your interests and career goals. 
  • Look for opportunities to gain hands-on experience and build new skills. 
  • Research the company or organization to ensure it has a positive reputation and aligns with your values. 
  • Make sure the internship is a good fit for your schedule and other commitments. 
  • Be prepared to work hard and make the most of the opportunity. 

By taking the time to explore internship opportunities and being intentional in your search, you can discover a path that aligns with your passions and sets you on a journey towards a successful career. 

Undecided on Your Career Path? Try Job Shadowing. 

Job shadowing offers a valuable opportunity for students, especially those who are undecided about their career path. By shadowing someone at work, you can gain firsthand experience of what a day in the life of a professional in a specific field looks like.