3 answers

How can I find a summer job or internship relevant to my career path?

Asked Fremont, California

I'm a junior in high school and am interested in science but keep getting rejected from summer jobs that build leadership skills by teaching younger students science. I also have not found relevant internships, and I'm afraid of getting rejected once I do because of the competition from other students. How can I build a strong application to apply for these jobs or internships? #summer-jobs #summer-internship

3 answers

Mark’s Answer

Updated Morrisville, North Carolina

You have my sympathy. I was told once (while I was in college and in my Junior year in Computer Science) that I would need to be out in the market for 4 years before I would have good technical skills. From a guy at an Business Supply store where I was applying for a job.

He was very wrong. :)

I would not stop looking for a technology related job... but I would also look at the other jobs that are available that you might be able to do. Why? Because ANY job has a lot of similar aspects, technology or not. Are you able to get up and get to the job on time? Do you deal well with other co-workers? Can you understand direction? Are you able to learn on the job and do more for your boss? These are the same for an engineer at Apple, or an associate at Walmart!

I am currently a Software Engineer (for the last 30 years), but grew up on a ranch. I have delivered fertilizer, bailed straw, and cleaned up broken glass at a Coca-Cola bottling facility. I got to change oil on tractors, herd cattle, and mow acres of grass. All jobs have there good points and bad points... but they are all also jobs. :)

If you find a wonderful summer job in the sciences area, great! Enjoy! But if you end up mopping floors, flipping burgers, or mowing lawns.... ALSO great! Enjoy! You are learning life skills that always apply later in the job market.

I have helped hire a lot of folks in the technology area. It is (and will continue to be) a market where supply is limited, and demand is high. If you get a degree from a good school, you should be able to find a job. But if I had someone with a 4.0 GPA and no job, and someone else with 3.8 GPA, but experience flipping burgers.... I will tend to favor the 3.8 GPA (everything else being equal). :)

Hope this helps! Best of luck!

Lauren’s Answer


I hope you're not discouraged! Finding your first internship/job can be tough. You want an internship so that you gain experience, but your employer wants to see experience before they give you the job. Quite the Catch 22!

That said, there are a few ways to stand out, even if you don't have prior experience:

  • Showcase your passion. You can get creative about showing your love for science. Talk about recent articles or research papers you found interesting, highlight your favorite science coursework, and explain the one or two key moments that made you want to pursue science.

  • Know your stuff. Companies want to see that you understand their mission. Do research beforehand and show that your skills and enthusiasm would be a good match.

  • Refine your resume. Find examples online, and reach out to any friends or family members who are in a similar line of work. Oftentimes, you can get ideas about what to add and how to highlight your past work. Also, a good-looking and well-organized resume can go a long way!

If you aren't able to find the perfect internship/job, you can also consider volunteering.* This is a great way to show future employers that you are hardworking and passionate about science. Volunteer organizations are often more open to accepting volunteers who don't have prior experience. And there are really cool opportunities out there -- e.g. after school tutoring, wildlife volunteering, science centers, etc. These can be competitive as well, so I still recommend following the tips above to help your application stand out.

*For some people, volunteering full-time isn't an option due to financial circumstances. If you aren't able to volunteer full-time, you could consider taking a part-time volunteer opportunity (20hrs/week), and a part-time job in an unrelated field (e.g. restaurant, retail, etc).

Best of luck!

Sara’s Answer

Updated Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

If you haven't already done so I'd reach out to the organizations that rejected your applicantion. They may be able to provide more insight on why you weren't selected, which may help in your future endeavors.

If your not having any luck with formal internship programs you could reach out to local science companies/organizations and see if they'd take you as an intern or volunteer on an unpaid internship. You'll face less competition from other students if you seek out your own opportunities. Practice your "elevator speech" and then go for it!