Internships are a great way to get introduced to a field you may be interested in. What is so great about them is the fact that they can approach the same subject from so many different angles. This gives you a concrete opportunity to get hands-on experience without requiring you to necessarily become a full time employee. In addition to this, many employers are currently looking for students to come into a full-time job with some sort of experience, and experience in a specialized and related field will make you more appealing.
One of the most challenging parts of the process is getting the actual internship. From investing in business professional clothes to interviewing and, if you’re under age, getting your working papers, it can be a lot of work. At many universities there are faculty who manage research programs and possibly own their own companies. By building a close relationship with said faculty you will shine more brightly when applying for a position. Another key factor is to make sure that you maintain your grades in school because your GPA does matter in regards to getting an internship. Another great way to find out about internship opportunities would be to join a student organization that is geared towards your field of interest. For example, one such organization is NSBE, the National Society of Black Engineers. Every year they hold a conference in a different locations to which engineering students can go, speak with corporate companies of various disciplines, and interview for an internship on the spot.
Over the summer I had an opportunity to participate in an internship (outside of the wonderful world that is The Prospect, that is). The internship was in a research laboratory studying the capabilities of microcontrollers. I attended a summer program at the university the previous year, and my group’s advisor is a professor at the same university. Since we were working in such a small group, we were all able to build a close relationship with the professor and he told us to reach out to him if we ever needed anything. So, since I was local and I had nothing to do besides summer work (a.k.a. nothing) I got in contact with him to see if he could use any help. Afterwards, he told me about his research company, and I interviewed with him later to become an employee.
Through my experiences there I definitely learned a lot about my future major, which is Computer Engineering. One of the first things I learned is that even at a basic level some things are going to be classified. I never expected that I would have been working on projects I couldn’t discuss with anyone, not even my own parents, but I did and have kept them secret even now that I’m not currently working. Secondly, I learned that though I do want to specialize in hardware, learning to program will definitely be a key part of my curriculum, and that I need to ensure that I properly learn how to code before graduating.
Through a small chip no bigger than the palm of my hand, I was able to control a series of lights, fans, and even create a device that could automatically water plants without my input. This was really amazing because it showed me the possibilities that I had in my future career. Another thing that I learned is that it is very important to get along with your coworkers, especially those with more experience. They will aide you in your tasks because the closer you are, the more likely they will want to help you succeed.
Lastly, a word of advice is to never slack off, because if you do your boss will likely not feel inclined to rehire you in the future should you decide to apply to intern at the company again.
Though you may only be in high school, it is never too early to start connecting with future employers in order to be a step ahead of the game. If an opportunity comes to the table I urge you to take it. I guarantee that you will have the time of your life, and if you don’t, well then you know what not to pursue for your future. Don’t be afraid to take a risk; I definitely recommend having an internship.