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Navigating AI Internships for High School Students

7 minute read

Artificial intelligence, or AI, is becoming an increasingly mentioned buzzword in today’s world and for good reason. AI and its applications have suddenly flooded everything we do, with tools like ChatGPT and Perplexity coming into the mainstream. If you’re excited to jump on this movement and learn more about AI, an internship can be a great way to gain exposure to the field and develop valuable skills. In this article, we’ll dive into what to expect for an AI internship, share our list for top AI internships, and help you prepare your internship applications.

Why is AI Important in Today’s World?

Becoming familiar with AI and developing a skill set can be immensely beneficial, because nowadays businesses are realizing just how important AI can be to them. Artificial intelligence provides advantages such as automating repetitive tasks and processes, reducing human error, and can also help perform perilous or risky tasks. However, it’s not as though AI will completely replace all human workers. In fact, humans are still needed to help understand how to effectively augment AI and also make sense of the outcomes of the tasks that AI is performing. Therefore, we live in a world where knowledge of AI is more important than ever.

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What to Expect from a AI Internship

In an AI internship you can expect to learn / use coding skills to solve problems, which also means that you’ll likely have to use math frequently as well. You can also expect to learn from professionals or faculty who are well versed in developments with AI, so don’t hesitate to ask them questions and dive further into whatever it is that you’re learning!

Whether you’re interested in a career as a software engineer, AI researcher, data scientist, or robotics engineer, you’ll find an exciting internship opportunity below.

Top AI Internships for High School Students

#1 Stanford Center for Artificial Intelligence in Medicine and Imaging (AIMI) Summer Internship

Stanford’s AIMI Summer Internship hopes to inspire the next generation of AI pioneers in the field of medicine. The internship will consist of introductory and technical lectures on AI in healthcare fundamentals as well as Virtual Career Lunch and Learns with guest speakers representing academia, industry, non-profit, government. etc. There’s also a mentorship component to the program, with activities involving Stanford Student Leads and researchers. According to the website, an extended independent research internship opportunity may also be available for interested program participants. The criteria isn’t specified for who gets to participate in that, but that may just be extra incentive for you to put your best effort into the internship! Keep in mind for this specific internship AIMI does have a strong preference towards those with a strong computer science, math, or biology background. 

Location: Virtual

Pay: Unpaid

Program Dates: June 17 - 28 

Eligibility: All high school students, strong preference towards students with a strong computer science, math, and/or biology background

Application Deadline: March 31

#2 EDIT ML Summer Internship Program

The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center (Emerging Diagnostic and Investigative Technologies; EDIT) Machine Learning program has been developing, validating, and scaling artificial intelligence technologies that aim to improve clinical efficiency and patient outcomes. If you’re interested in how AI impacts healthcare then this is the right internship for you. Interns can develop skills in R, Python, and high-performance computing, communicate their findings to a clinical research audience, and gain experience in scientific writing. 

Moreover, through a series of lectures/seminars, guided projects, and IRB supported basic research, interns develop algorithms to explore topics such as cancer detection, gigapixel image manipulation, text prediction, amongst many others. If you’re interested in learning more about the kinds of projects that interns have pursued in the past, check out the link here.

Location: Virtual

Pay: Not specified

Program Dates: Not specified

Eligibility: All high school students with a background in computer science

Application Deadline: April 15

#3 Harvard Computer Society AI Summer Bootcamp

This 5-day intensive program is organized by Harvard Computer Society, a student-run organization at Harvard. The program collects 20+ years of AI research experience from instructors and will cover the topics at the cutting edge of AI/ML research at Harvard. The curriculum stays up to date with the latest developments in generative AI, computer vision, and reinforcement learning. You can learn more about the detailed 5-day schedule and topics covered here.

The AI Bootcamp Summer Program offers two tracks: Intro and Advanced. The Introductory Summer Program is designed for high school students comfortable with Python and rigorous mathematical reasoning, though no AI/ML experience is required. The Advanced Summer Program requires comfort with AI/ML or some familiarity with PyTorch, as this track will dedicate more time toward independent research projects.

Location: Virtual

Cost: Regular price is $495, Final Priority price is $695. Limited financial aid available

Program Dates: June 3 - 7

Eligibility: All high school students with some programming skills in Python

Application Deadline: Rolling basis until all seats are filled

#4 UT Dallas Intensive Research Internship in CS

Hosted by UT Dallas, this internship will typically meet in-person for multiple days per week, and it's expected that each intern work 20-40 hours per week but this can vary greatly depending on the project or lab. Actual work can vary a lot too: reading research papers, conducting simulations, developing apps for specific functionality, etc. Specific lab topics include things like computer vision and multimodal computing, AI safety, NLP, and many others. Capacity is often very limited for each lab so be sure to read the descriptions carefully and figure out which lab is best for your interests.

Location: Dallas, Texas

Cost: $500 registration fee. Discounts provided to low-income families

Program Dates: June 3 - August 2

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors with background knowledge in CS

Application Deadline: Closed now, check here for full list of labs

#5 UCLA Computer Science Summer Institute - Generative AI

This UCLA program is structured more as a course than an internship, but we still wanted to include this program on our list since its curriculum targets the latest developments in AI. In this hands-on institute, students will focus on generative AI for texts, which is basically what ChatGPT does. You’ll begin to understand core concepts of Generative AI, including neural networks, deep learning, and natural language processing, through interactive lectures, workshops, and collaborative projects. 

The program is led by Prof. Nanyun Peng, who’s research focuses on generalizability of NLP technologies, with applications to creative language generation, low-resource information extraction, and zero-shot cross-lingual transfer. If all of that sounds exciting to you then this could be a great learning experience!

Location: Los Angeles, California

Cost: Total estimated fees ~$3,000, need and merit-based scholarship offered

Program Dates: July 1 - 19

Eligibility: High schoolers above the age of 15

Application Deadline: June 1

#6 NYU Arise Program 

More than 400 high school students have gone through  NYU Tandon School of Engineering’s Applied Research Innovations in Science and Engineering (ARISE) program. The seven-week program includes a high level, 5-week authentic research experience in participating NYU faculty labs, mentoring in that placement by a graduate or postdoctoral student, as well as two weeks of workshops, college advising and other activities designed to prepare students for the college application process. Students will also be able to present their research at the program’s concluding colloquium. If you’re interested in seeing what students presented in the past, check out the colloquium archives.

Two specific labs within ARISE that are specific to AI are the Machine Learning for Good Laboratory and the Immersive Computing Lab. Both provide the opportunity to learn more about how AI and Machine Learning can help improve society in areas such as criminal justice, public health interventions, and urban life.

Location: New York City, New York

Pay: $750 stipend

Program Dates: June 3 - August 9

Eligibility: Rising juniors and seniors living in New York City as their permanent residence

Application Deadline: March 1

#7 Berkeley Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (BAIR) High School Summer Program

At the BAIR Lab, students in this program participate in daily guest lectures and activities guided by BAIR Lab researchers. The opportunity is designed for and offered to students who have had limited access to STEM mentors and experiences outside of school who may be the first generation in their family to attend college, and who demonstrate financial need.

The BAIR Lab is where UC Berkeley researchers explore areas of computer vision, machine learning, natural language processing, and robotics, and this program is a great opportunity to learn from experienced researchers who are on the cutting-edge of AI. Mornings in the program are designed for lectures and afternoons are spent building technical skills such as learning Python and developing machine learning skills. Later in the week, students apply these skills to solve real world AI problems.

Location: UC Berkeley campus, California

Cost: Free

Program Dates: July 8 - 12

Eligibility: Rising 10-12th graders in the Bay Area

Application Deadline: April 30

#8 NYU Tandon Machine Learning Program

NYU Tandon's 2 week Summer Program for Machine Learning introduces students to the computer science, data analyses, mathematical techniques, and logic that drive the fields of machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI). Lessons throughout the weeks will cover the inner workings of video and image recognition technologies; interactive voice controls for homes; autonomous vehicles; real-time monitoring and traffic control; cutting-edge diagnostic medical technologies, and other technologies that are a part of our daily lives. If you’ve always been interested in technology around you and how it works, these lessons will be very exciting for you. 

Students will also start to learn core principles in machine learning and related fields such as model development through cross validation, linear regressions, and neural networks. Moreover, a strong emphasis is put on students learning the principles of engineering problem solving and how these techniques can be used to tackle global challenges.

Location: New York City, New York

Cost: ~$3,000

Program Dates: June 17 - 28, July 8 - 19, July 29 - August 9

Eligibility: Currently enrolled in 9,10 or 11th grade and have successfully completed Algebra 2

Application Deadline: April 20 

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How to Apply for AI Internships

Preparing Your Application

In the application process, internship programs typically ask you to submit written or video essays explaining your interest in the AI or computer science field. Some internships may strongly encourage applicants to have some coding background or proficiency in Algebra, but unless it’s explicitly stated as a must-have, don’t let that stop you from applying and expressing your interest.

Writing a Stand-Out Essay

In the essay portion of the application, it’s critical that you express your curiosity for the field and your desire to learn. Applicants can stand out from the rest by having clear reasons for why they’re interested in the internship and why they’re excited by AI. Do your own research on each internship program by exploring the websites and identifying specific parts of the program that you’re especially excited about, such as projects, courses, or even specific faculty that you know will be involved. 

Letters of Recommendation and Interviews

Many internships require letters of recommendation, so if you know ahead of time that you’d like to apply for an AI internship, try to build relationships with your computer science or math teachers in school! They can be the ones to write your recommendation letters.

A smaller portion of internships conduct interviews. For these, we recommend that you review your essays and memorize your reasons for why you’re interested in the internship. Other than that, just relax and don’t be afraid to ask questions so that you can learn more about the internship and the team that you’ll be working with!

Maximizing Your Internship Experience

Networking and Professional Development

We encourage you to also learn as much as you can from your managers and fellow interns. They can be great resources for helping you navigate AI in the future and may even have insights into which colleges have the best programs! You can check out our list of the best schools for artificial intelligence in the US. Beyond just helping you find the right college to attend, the relationships you develop through your internship can also allow others to connect you with other internships/research as you progress in your college degree.

Turning Your Internship into a Career Opportunity

The value you gain from an internship doesn’t just stop after your internship ends! The mentors you meet during your internship can be lifelong mentors as you continue to navigate AI. In the final weeks of your internship tell your managers that you’d love to stay in touch and continue to learn from them. Get their contact info and follow up with them so that they can stay up to date on your progress and continue to provide you with guidance.

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Opportunities at Polygence

Interested in doing AI research on your own time? Explore Polygence’s Research Mentorship Program where you can explore an artificial intelligence, computer science, or machine learning topic of your choice and work with an expert mentor to help your research come to life. If you’re stuck on finding the right project idea you can also check out our list of 10 AI Project Ideas for High School Students.

For example, Polygence alumni Nishanth was able to work with his PhD mentor Nikhil to create a predictive model that would guess a composer of classical music based on features of the recording. Nishanathl extracted features from a dataset provided by AudioSets Erlangen, containing 2000 Western classical tracks from the Baroque to the Modern era. He then trained an algorithm using the features of the data in order to create an accurate model. To showcase his work, Nishanth wrote a research paper to explain his process and findings!