Experiencing Success at Work: High School Internships

Every student should graduate from high school having experienced success in several work settings (one of 10 vital experiences). There’s no better way to earn job skills than on the job. Work-based learning experiences are a great way to narrow interests and focus future learning. As we noted in a paper on college and career guidance, most high school students would benefit from more Internships and job shadows.

A recent survey indicated that 90% of surveyed companies agreed that high school internship programs can help students get into better colleges, and 70% say students who complete their programs are either very or completely likely to eventually land a college internship within their company.

Following is a summary of notable high school internship programs, and given growing interest in high paying manufacturing jobs, a sample of pathway and internship programs in manufacturing.

High School Internship Programs. Kenton County School District (metro Cincinnati) high schools feature an academy structure where students have the opportunity to attend a half-day program, potentially off their school campus. Superintendent Terri Cox-Cruey is a champion of a senior year driven by a personalized learning plan and featuring college credit options, job shadows, project-based learning and internships.

Noblesville High School (metro Indianapolis) principal Jeff Bryant said one-third of last year’s senior class earned school credit by serving in an internship during the school day with a local business. Bill Stanczykiewicz, CEO of the Indiana Youth Institute, reports that:

Students served their internship either 90 minutes each day or for three hours every other day. While serving an internship, students took an online course teaching them about workplace skills and the labor market while earning elective credit toward any of Indiana’s high school diploma types.

The Canton Connecticut Chamber of Commerce (metro Hartford) proposed an internship program for the high school and school officials working closely with chamber members. Canton High School Assistant Principal Eric Verner said a senior capstone project will be required of all students starting with the Class of 2019. He said the hope is to incorporate internships into the senior project. Students from Avon High School will have to work 72 hours as part of their internship, keep a journal of their activities and be ready to give a presentation on their job, said Liz Brisco, Internship Coordinator.

Darien High School (metro Stamford Connecticut) internships are five weeks of work experience starting in May and running through the last day of classes. “I interned at Facebook in New York City during my senior spring and it was without a doubt one of the most amazing experiences that I have ever had,” DHS grad and Tulane freshman Isabelle Perticone said of her internship. “To be a part of a real life operation and to see where the future could lead me was an eye-opening and exciting experience…I think every senior should join the internship program, it is a choice they will not regret.”

Intern Livingston, created by the Livingston Business and Education Alliance (central Michigan) is geared toward preparing students to become career-ready and was relaunched in December. Tim Jackson, Livingston Educational Service Agency, hopes the initiative will help students make career choices earlier.

The Iowa Student Internship Program provides financial support to manufacturing and IT companies with a goal of transitioning the interns to full-time employment. Companies pay the high school graduate interns at least twice the minimum wage.

Ohio Career Exploration Internship Program offers at least 20 weeks and 200 hours of career exploration to students 16 to 18 years old or enrolled in Ohio high school grades 11 or 12. Businesses are reimbursed for 50 percent of the intern’s wages.

The Education Cooperative Internship Program (metro Boston) is a selective career exploration placement program supporting junior and senior high school students after school or during the summer. Students pay $550 and may earn credit.

Northrop Grumman began hiring high school interns in 2011. There were about 800 students in paid internships last summer but more unpaid than paid interns at the high school level.

Tech Prep is a summer internship with Boeing for high school juniors with a GPA of 2.5 or better who have their eye on a future in aerospace manufacturing.

NASA has a paid intern program. The Smithsonian Institution offers a variety of intern opportunities too.

Microsoft has a paid summer internship program. Silicon Valley tech companies like Google hire interns but more frequently after they graduate from high school.

Alex Murray, a high school intern at Stanford, reports that a few high school students land summer internships in Stanford science labs. Johns Hopkins University labs takes on more high school interns every year including any junior or senior with good grades who can travel to the Laurel Maryland laboratory.

High school internships are becoming more common in Anne Arundel County Maryland in part because of magnet programs where they are required.

Manufacturing Career Pathways. Wheeling High School (metro Chicago) offers an Advanced Manufacturing career pathway which enables students to explore the field of manufacturing and learn skills they can apply to a college degree or go directly into the workforce upon graduation. Interns who complete this program can earn a metalworking and safety certification as well as a National Career Readiness Certificate.

Garland Independent School District (metro Dallas) has six high schools that offer a coherent manufacturing course sequence. They encourage students to join a Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO).

Manufacturing Production Technology Academy, Laguna Creek High Schools (metro Sacramento), offers a college preparatory curriculum with a manufacturing theme. Students gain access to intensive internships, virtual apprenticeships, and school–based enterprises. MPTA is part of ConnectEd Network sponsored by the Irvine Foundation.

Platt Technical High School is part of a Connecticut network of technical high schools that prepare students for postsecondary education, including apprenticeships, and immediate productive employment. Students are assessed on National Institute for Metalworking Skills.

Eleva-Strum Central High School in Western Wisconsin has a student run manufacturing shop, Cardinal Manufacturing with equipment donated from MRS Machining. (See feature)

Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES offers an Early College High School Program in Advanced Manufacturing. Students spend half a day at SUNY Adirondack’s Queensbury campus and the other half at their high school.

For more on career pathways, see a Joyce and Irvine sponsored report for a useful framework and success metrics.

Manufacturing Internships. GPS Education Partners, Getting Smart Advocacy Partner, operates 16 learning centers in eastern Wisconsin in partnership with school districts and manufacturers. Juniors and seniors take high school classes in the morning and participate in manufacturing apprenticeships in the afternoon. Most students graduate with a job certificate and a job offer.

BAE Systems is partnering with secondary schools in southern New Hampshire and northern Massachusetts to offer paid manufacturing internships to local high school seniors and juniors for 8 to 12 hours per week. Students explore various manufacturing career paths, gain marketable work skills, and earn academic credit.

Impact Northwest coordinates Pathways to Manufacturing partnership with Franklin and Centennial high schools in Portland.

The Rotational Internship Program from the Manufacturing Institute (eastern Pennsylvania) is a partnership aimed at exposing high school and college STEM students to manufacturing careers.

Dayton Region Manufacturers Association developed a kit to assist members in establishing and implementing an internship program that integrates industry and education.

Washington State offers advice on manufacturing apprenticeships and lists opening by county.

For more, see:

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Daniel Pousset


Do you have any list of high school internships in Austin, Texas for mechanical engineering?

Daniel Pousset


Tom Vander Ark

Hi Daniel, probably worth checking with Austin ISD CTE office

Eugene L

Do you have a list of any internships in the LA area?



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