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Internships can help teens become job ready by developing workforce readiness skills and making connections that could lead to future employment.

Importance of an Internship: Resources & How to Get Started

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:  

  • Should I get an internship or a part-time job? (Or both?)
  • Would an internship be a good way to get my foot in the door at a company?
  • What skills do I need to get a job?
  • How do I get experience to qualify for an entry-level job?
  • What career would be a good fit for my skills and interests?

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.

What does an intern do?

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. 

Why should you get an internship? 

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You’ll gain what every employer is looking for – experience. When you scroll through jobs on sites like LinkedIn and Indeed, you will see that almost all jobs require some kind of prior experience – an internship is a great way to get a head start on building those skills and your resume. 

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You will have the opportunity to network and build work-world connections. Not only are these great skills to develop but with professional connections, an internship can lead to long-term mentorship opportunities and can often help connect you with future job opportunities. 

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An internship is a great way to explore a career interest before committing to more permanent work. Internships allow you some flexibility to learn about your area of interest, often with a more finite schedule (a semester, a summer, several months, etc.). If it’s not a good fit, you’ll have that knowledge, your new skills and an end date to explore other opportunities. 


What are the benefits of an internship?

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Internships can help build a path for permanent employment. Many internships have programs that will lead you to getting a job once completed. In fact, according to an article in Forbes, if you are a college graduate and you are working at a paid internship, almost 60% of the time that internship will turn into a job offer. Even if this isn’t the case right away, having experience on your résumé working at that company will make you stand out among other applicants. 

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You will learn new systems and processes. Familiarizing yourself with different technology, programs and processes makes you a stronger candidate when applying for a job – you’ll be easier to onboard and more prepared to hit the ground running. Those new systems might include commonplace office technology such as Excel, Outlook and the office intranet, or more skill-based digital platforms like Canva and Adobe.  

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You will learn what skills you need to practice more and what you already are good at. At your internship, you’ll be able to learn areas you can improve upon – whether it’s customer service, writing a professional email or contributing to existing processes. And since almost all interviewers will ask you about your skillset, after an experience at an internship, you’ll be able to discuss your strengths. 

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Most importantly, you will learn what kind of work environment is right for you. What is the work culture you are looking for? What are the “musts” on your checklist that you would want from an employer? This might be learning if you prefer in-person, remote or hybrid work, or a deeply collaborative office versus a more individual contributor atmosphere. What are the values of the organization and what matters to you? All these questions can be answered while gaining real world experiences and talking to peers, mentors and colleagues at internships. 


Do interns make money?

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!). 

How to get an internship

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: 

  • Have your résumé ready. This should include your education and any work experience you have. If you’re just out of school, work experience can also include your community involvement, job-shadowing you’ve done, and clubs and afterschool activities you’re engaged in.

  • If requested by the employer, have a portfolio of samples of work ready to share. You can create an easy portfolio as a Word document or even a PowerPoint, with a few examples of your work, writing, process, etc. that showcase how you work.

  • Identify trusted references! Be sure to have a list of people you’d feel comfortable asking to vouch for you to a potential future employer (and give them a heads-up that they may get a call following your interview!). Examples might include teachers, guidance counselors or coaches.

  • Know how the internship will fit into your current routine or be ready to adjust your schedule to make time for your internship. Many internships are part-time and you may have to work to fit them into your school schedule, extracurriculars and other activities.

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. 

How to use LinkedIn to get an 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.    

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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. 




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