As a high schooler, you might feel a lot of pressure to get an internship in order to be better qualified for university or any other path you might want to take once you graduate. However, it seems pretty daunting to actually find an internship because most businesses won’t allow for students to come help. This is especially true in the sciences (eg research labs, banks, engineering firms…) as they require lots of prior knowledge.
So what’s the first step:
Your first goal is to figure out ALL the possible internships you would be okay with getting. Don’t limit yourself to a particular company, project or subject -- instead, try to search within all the realms. If you’re interested in becoming an English major, you could intern not only in a publication firm but also at a newspaper, radio company, television company, comedy club, and so much more… Likewise, within the STEM subjects you should also be okay with several routes: research in a lab, start up company, coding assistant within any company… If you want to follow a career in business or within the arts, any company is perfect -- the role that you ask for, however, should be a bit different. You can ask to help with the marketing of a business, with its online presence, designing logos and pictures, etc. Once you have a list of the possible subject areas you want to explore, it’s time to move on to step 2.
Research! Once you find the areas you like, you need to look with particular companies or brands that are a good fit for you. A “good fit” entails several things: close to you (location), willing to hire highschool students (although you can attempt being persuasive), has a good reputation (be safe and don’t trust any company right away) and serves your purpose (will this company get you the internship you actually want/need?). Now researching is not only scouring through the internet and hoping to find a match for you, there are many other ways this can be done.
Talk to your guidance counselors → ask her what past students have done and if she knows anyone
Talk to your teachers → the teachers within the general area that you want to study may have connections that you can use
Ask your friends and their parents → this is often overlooked but it is so useful! Having your friend vouch for you is a perfect way to land an internship
Get in touch with alumni → everyone in your year is probably trying to find an internship of their own, and might not be able to give you good advice. Most alumni, however, will have gotten at least 1 internship that they can point to you too + you share a connection through your school (don’t be shy, get in touch with them!)
Your activities → this one seems weird, but trust me, it’s useful. Now, you probably have at least one activity in your life where you are in touch with an adult: playing a competitive sport, volunteering, working a job… You can also ask this person to help you get an internship, and hope that they will mention you to their friends! Any exposure is useful.
Okay, I’ve found the company / person I want to work for. What next?
It’s time to send a cold email. This might seem daunting, but it’s actually very easy. All you have to do is:
Introduce yourself: including your school, age, relevant subjects
Mention how you discovered the company: internet, recommendation from someone you know -- mention them by name
Talk about your passion for the company: use flattery, explain why it's the right fit for you, highlight some of their work / achievements
Show them what they gain: explain why they should hire you as an intern, that you are working for free, you are passionate, curious, motivated, determined…
Optional: mention your flexibility / the dates you can work on (sometimes you want to do this straight from the start but I usually recommend waiting for an email back)
End the email: be very polite, use a formal sign-off and thank them for their consideration
They might love you and perfect, you’ve got yourself an internship! If, however, they don’t, don’t lose hope. Simply try again and again (repeating steps 2 & 3) until you find someone willing to help you out.
Good luck, and make sure to post any questions under the forum -- we’re here to help!