Internships - They're Not Just for College Students Anymore

By Cooper, Mary Ann | The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education, July 16, 2012 | Go to article overview

Internships - They're Not Just for College Students Anymore


Cooper, Mary Ann, The Hispanic Outlook in Higher Education


College students have long realized the importance of an internship in a career field they are about to enter. Many students find employment after graduation in companies and organizations where they interned or network their way into employment through connections made during their internships. Now more and more high school students, particularly Hispanic and minority students, are being given the opportunity to intern as a way of focusing their interest in higher education and placing themselves firmly on a career path to success. They either can intern as a high school student, or apply as a high school senior to intern as soon as they enter college.

Just how specific and career targeted can these high school internships be? In many cases, high school internships are surprisingly narrowfocused. For instance, if you are a high school senior planning to enroll in a four- or five-year college program, or a college freshman or sophomore already enrolled in one, you can apply to the Central Intelligence Agency's Undergraduate Scholar Program. Developed in part to help minority and disabled students, application is open to all students who meet the requirements. The program offers work sessions during each summer break, increasing the student's knowledge and job responsibilities at each phase while assisting intelligence professionals and applying acquired academic skills.

The CIA says it believes in "challenging our scholars with meaningful work that relates to their college major. An IT major, for example, might be given increasingly complex projects involving sophisticated computer systems. An engineering major might help produce a piece of state-of-the-art equipment. A finance major could be involved in developing and analyzing budgets for a worldwide operation. A foreign language major might be instrumental in translating documents for U.S. policymakers. As a final example, a human resource major could have the opportunity to develop and implement personnel policies and procedures."

The CIA's Scholar Program is extremely competitive. All applicants must have 1500 SAT (1000 Math & Critical Reading, 500 Writing) or 21 ACT scores or higher, as well as a 3.0/4.0 scale high school or college GPA or higher. But once a student is selected, the benefits are considerable. Students receive an annual salary; an optional benefits package that includes health, dental and vision insurance, life insurance and retirement; and up to $18,000 per calendar year for tuition, mandatory fees, books and supplies. They are required to work at an agency facility in the Washington, D.C., metropolitan area during summer breaks and to maintain full-time college status during the school year with a minimum cumulative 3.0/4.0 GPA.

The National Security Agency (NSA) also has an internship program for college-bound high school students. The High School Work Study Program is designed for high school students who are enrolled in either business computing or office technology classes, and who plan to participate in a school-sponsored work experience program during their senior year. The VoTech Program is designed for students enrolled in printing/graphic arts or manufacturing classes, and who plan to participate in a school-sponsored work experience program during their senior year. Open to all students, particularly to minorities, only a select few of the nation's finest high school students are chosen. Applicants must have a minimum SAT score of 1100 or a minimum composite ACT score of 25, possess a high school GPA of 3.0 or higher, must demonstrate leadership abilities, and be U.S. citizens.

If you are an aspiring scientist, Sabin Research Institute Children's Hospital in Los Angeles has a program that offers real-life experience. Its Latino & African-American High School Internship Program (LA-HIP) is a biomedical summer research and college-preparatory program for Latino and African-American senior high school students who live or attend school in South or East Los Angeles. …

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