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Employers, Students Benefit from High School Internships

Career development activities, such as internships and volunteering, are becoming increasingly important for high school students who want to get into better colleges and find future employment, according to a study released Feb. 3, 2014, by and the research and consulting firm Millennial Branding. And companies are finding that they, too, can benefit from such arrangements.

“In today's economy, students have to start building their careers in high school in order to better compete in the college admissions process, for college internships and eventually full-time jobs,” said Dan Schawbel, founder of Millennial Branding and author of Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success (St. Martin’s Press, 2013). “Employers who offer high school internships [also] build brand awareness early, fill up their talent pipelines and [are] able to remain competitive in their marketplace.”

A total of 4,769 college and high school students and more than 300 employers from across the U.S. were surveyed in January 2014. Students were asked about what professional activities they are participating in, their ambitions, and how they search for internships. Companies also were asked about the criteria they are using when recruiting and the importance of high school internships when it comes to college admissions and employment.

Half of responding employers reported they are either currently accepting applications from high school students for internships or plan to this year, according to the survey results. Sixty percent agreed that students will need to begin to focus on their careers in high school to compete for internships and future jobs, and 90 percent agreed that high school internship programs can help students get into better colleges.

Eighty-nine percent of employers said students will have a competitive advantage when looking for a college internship or full-time job, and 83 percent said those internships will yield better paying jobs.

The top reasons businesses cited for offering high school internships were to:

  • Support local high schools (46 percent).

  • Gain new ideas (23 percent).

  • Find future college interns (18 percent).

Participating employers said 73 percent of their high school internships focus around social media marketing projects, followed by data entry (41 percent) and admin work (36 percent).

“High school internships are a win-win for both employers and students,” said Robin D. Richards, chairman and CEO of “For students, work experience is the key to ensure they make a good career decision and build their professional network. By employing students, companies get exposure to talent early in their career journey and help support the well- being of the local community.”

In fact, 70% of companies say that high school students who complete their programs are either “very likely” or “completely likely” to eventually land a college internship with their company. And 45 percent said that high school internships will “very likely” or “completely likely” turn into a full-time job at their company.

The top three things that college students said they are looking to get out of internships are work experience (89 percent), new skills (85 percent) and job offers (72 percent).The top three things that high school students are looking to get out of internships are new skills (92 percent), work experience (81 percent) and mentorship/networking (72 percent).

The top qualities companies are looking for when recruiting high school students are:

  • Interview performance (50 percent).

  • High academic performance (41 percent).

  • References (36 percent).

Half of employers say that the reputation of the high school also matters when recruiting students for their programs.


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