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Top 10 Career Exploration Summer Programs for Finding Your Passion

8 minute read

Embarking on the journey of career exploration is a crucial step for high school students, and what better way to dive into the vast ocean of possibilities than through immersive and enlightening summer programs? We've rounded up the top 10 career exploration summer internships for high school students (and some college), just for you, with handy links to dive deeper into each one. Ready to explore and make this summer count?

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1. Smithsonian Institution's Summer Internships

Imagine diving into the realms of science, technology, art, and culture, all under the roof of one of the most renowned institutions globally. As an intern, you won't be fetching coffee—you'll be right in the mix, working side by side with experts. It's a chance to soak up knowledge, contribute to actual projects, and maybe even leave your mark on the world-famous Smithsonian. Ready for a summer that's anything but ordinary? This high school internship might just be your ticket!  

2. NASA High School Aerospace Scholars

Picture this: you get to team up with actual scientists and engineers at NASA diving into the world of space exploration together. Eligibility criteria for NASA's program typically include being a high school student with a keen interest in space and science. You'll likely need to showcase your enthusiasm for exploration, a knack for collaboration, and a dash of curiosity. Specific requirements may vary, so it's wise to check NASA's official program details for the nitty-gritty. But if you're ready to shoot for the stars and immerse yourself in the cosmos, you're already on the right track!

3. Telluride Association Summer Programs (TASP)

Telluride Association Summer Programs (TASP) is like a playground for high school juniors, offering an intellectual feast that goes beyond the ordinary. Picture this: a summer internship program with engaging seminars that delve into the realms of philosophy, literature, and political theory. It's not your typical summer camp—it's a space where minds collide, ideas flourish, and deep discussions become the norm.

To be part of this intellectually enriching experience, TASP typically targets high school juniors who show exceptional promise and curiosity. While specific criteria may vary, applicants generally need to demonstrate a strong academic record, a passion for intellectual exploration, and the ability to engage in thoughtful discussions. TASP is for those who hunger for knowledge and crave the challenge of exploring diverse academic interests.

So, if you're a high school junior with a thirst for intellectual adventure, TASP is the stage where you can shine, discuss, and immerse yourself in a world of ideas that goes far beyond the ordinary classroom. Ready to explore the depths of philosophy, literature, and political theory? TASP might just be your academic haven.

4. Google Computer Science Summer Institute (CSSI)

CSSI, or the Google Computer Science Summer Institute, is a tech adventure designed for students who eat, sleep, and breathe computer science. Picture three weeks of immersive exploration where coding isn't just a skill, but a language you'll become fluent in. It's not your run-of-the-mill summer camp for high schoolers; it's a deep dive into the world of algorithms, programming, and the kind of tech magic that happens behind the scenes at Google.

But it's not all about coding marathons. CSSI opens the doors to Google's work environment, giving you a backstage pass to the epicenter of innovation. Ever wondered what it's like to work at Google? This is your chance to find out while earning some work experience yourself. And here's the exciting twist—you won't just be surrounded by lines of code; you'll also have the opportunity to connect with professionals who've carved their path in the tech industry. It's a networking extravaganza where you can soak up insights, ask burning questions, get started on your professional skills, and maybe even find your future mentor.

Eligibility Criteria: While specifics may vary, CSSI typically targets high schoolers with a burning passion for computer science. You don't need to be a coding prodigy, but a genuine interest in unraveling the mysteries of algorithms and software is key. High school seniors who are ready to roll up their sleeves, dive into coding challenges, and explore the tech world are the perfect fit. So, if you're itching to turn your passion for computer science into a hands-on adventure, CSSI might just be your code-filled summer dream.

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5. MedStart Summer Program

Imagine clinical experiences that take you from observing medical professionals in action to getting hands-on with interactive workshops. It's not just about learning; it's about experiencing the real-world challenges and rewards of a career in medicine. MedStart doesn't stop at the basics—it exposes you to various medical specialties, helping you uncover where your passion truly lies. Whether you're fascinated by surgery, intrigued by pediatrics, or curious about emergency medicine, MedStart opens the door to exploration.

While specific eligibility criteria may vary, MedStart typically seeks rising seniors who are genuinely interested in pursuing a career in medicine. You don't need a medical degree (yet), but a passion for healthcare and a curiosity about the diverse world of medical specialties are essential. High school students who are ready to immerse themselves in clinical and research experiences, engage in hands-on workshops, and explore the multifaceted field of medicine are the ideal candidates.

6. Explore Microsoft Internship Program

The Explore Microsoft Internship Program is like a backstage pass to the tech and business extravaganza at Microsoft. If you're a student with a passion for all things technology and a keen interest in the business side of the digital world, this program is your golden ticket. The summer internship program opens the doors to a behind-the-scenes look at Microsoft. Gain insights into the inner workings of one of the tech industry giants, and get ready for a deep dive into the fascinating and ever-evolving world of technology.

While specific criteria may vary, the Explore Microsoft Internship Program typically seeks students who are not just tech enthusiasts but also have a business-minded perspective. You don't need to be a coding prodigy or a business guru, but a genuine interest in the intersection of technology and business is key. High school seniors and college students who are ready to bring their unique perspectives, ideas, and energy to the tech table are the ones Microsoft is looking for.

7. National Geographic Student Expeditions

National Geographic Student Expeditions generally seeks students who are passionate about exploration, conservation, and cultural immersion. Picture this: you're tracking wildlife, capturing the perfect shot in photography, and immersing yourself in a new culture. It's not just about reading about wildlife conservation; it's about actively participating in it. You don't need to be a seasoned adventurer or a wildlife expert; what matters is your genuine interest and eagerness to learn. High school and college students who are ready to step out of their comfort zones, embrace new experiences, and contribute to the world of conservation and exploration are the ideal participants.

8. Broadcom MASTERS 

(Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars)

Broadcom MASTERS, which stands for Math, Applied Science, Technology, and Engineering for Rising Stars, is a program tailored for middle school students who are budding scientists and engineers. It's not just a science fair; it's a platform where young minds can showcase their brilliance, engage with professionals, and tackle team-based challenges in the STEM fields.

Broadcom MASTERS typically targets middle school students who have a passion for STEM subjects. To be eligible, students often need to have completed a science, technology, engineering, or math project and demonstrated exceptional skills and curiosity in these areas. The program looks for students who are not just academically inclined but also eager to collaborate, present their research projects, dive into team challenges, and are interested in eventually establishing a STEM career.

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9. Bank of America Student Leaders Program

The Bank of America Student Leaders Program is a fantastic opportunity for young leaders with a passion for community service and non-profit work. The high school internship program typically targets high school students who are actively engaged in their communities and demonstrate a commitment to making a difference. To be eligible, students often need to showcase their leadership potential, community involvement, and a genuine interest in addressing social issues. Participants are selected based on their dedication to community service, as well as their academic achievements and leadership qualities.

10. College Programs for High School Students

Harvard's High School Programs are your ticket to an exciting academic adventure! With a variety of subjects to explore, you'll learn from world-class faculty, experience life on the iconic campus, and challenge yourself intellectually. It's not just about classes; it's a chance to live and learn at Harvard, surrounded by bright minds. The application process is competitive but showcases your passion for learning. Ready to dive into a summer of academic exploration at one of the top universities? Check it out at https://summer.harvard.edu/high-school-programs/