Polygence blog / Research Opportunities and Ideas

Top 20 Summer 2024 Internship Opportunities for High School Students

11 minute read

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Many college counselors agree: it takes more than great grades to get into a great college. Extracurricular activities are also important in the college admissions process. Why? They can demonstrate the kind of “citizen” one is or is capable of being. In particular, the more responsibility and leadership a student demonstrates in an internship position, the more likely they are to catch the eye of an admissions office. As you look for an internship, bear in mind that some will offer a stipend while others will not, and still others may require an application fee.

Here are our top 20 internships for High School students scored on their:

  • Compensation

  • Name recognition or prestige

  • Academic rigor

  • Social opportunities

  • Time commitment (longer programs score higher)

That said, it’s not an apples-to-apples assessment since some of these internships vary so widely from each other in subject matter—from museums to laboratories to tech companies. Also keep in mind that the more prestigious the internship, the sooner it will fill up!

If you are searching for a virtual summer opportunity, you can also consider doing a project through Polygence, where you can create a research project that's tailored to your interests and schedule.

Alternatively, you could consider doing a research program for high school students. To help you understand your options, we've created a handy guide to decide whether an internship or research program is the right way to spend your summer.

You call the shots

Polygence matches you with an expert mentor in your field of interest. Together, you work around your schedule to create a one of a kind research project that you can call your own

Student exploring their passion

1. Student Historian Internship Program

Hosting institution: New-York Historical

Compensation: Unpaid volunteer

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: Mid-Feb

High school students participating in the Student Historian internship utilize New-York Historical resources to conduct research and create digital projects. They learn about careers in museums, libraries, and history fields, collaborate with peers to improve public speaking and leadership skills, and engage in hands-on work to enhance their knowledge of American history. The internship's focus is on Our Composite Nation: Frederick Douglass’ America. Although this internship is unfortunately unpaid, there is an option to receive community service hours or school credit.

2. Cincinnati Museum Center

Hosting institution: Cincinnati Museum

Compensation: Unpaid volunteer

Format: In-person (Cincinnati, OH)

Application deadline: Ongoing

This 10-week volunteer internship is a great way to learn about professional opportunities in museums and non-profits. Available internships vary yearly and may include archeology, zoology, community-building, and more. You must have graduated from high school and be at least 18.  

3. Library of Congress

Hosting institution: Office of the Librarian

Compensation: Paid volunteer

Format: Online and in-person (Washington, DC)

Application deadline: November 27, 2023

If you're interested in public programming, research and writing, exhibition development, and outreach, this four-week internship offers a unique experience. Your research will help develop content to support the new participatory learning space for youth and families in the Library of Congress.

4. U.S. Secret Service Student Volunteer Program

Hosting institution: US Secret Service

Compensation: Unpaid volunteer

Format: In-person (Washington, DC)

Application deadline: Ongoing

Through participation in the USSS Student Volunteer Program, students gain insight into the nature and structure of the Secret Service while gaining valuable personal and professional skills. Students must be at least 16 years old and volunteer at least 12 hours per week. While this position is unpaid, there's an opportunity to receive academic credit and a rare hands on experience with a reputable organization.

5. Washington Performing Arts Internship

Hosting institution: Washington Performing Arts

Compensation: Unpaid volunteer

Format: In-person (Washington, DC)

Application deadline: Ongoing

You can tailor this performing arts internship to suit your schedule and interests. Although the position is unpaid, you will be given the opportunity to attend many Washington Performing Arts performances for free. You must have previous office experience, strong organizational skills, effective writing and communication skills, computer literacy, and the ability to learn quickly and to take initiative. Hours are flexible, but note that this is a spring program, not summer, and you must be a newly graduated high school student.

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6. Met High School Internships

Hosting institution: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Compensation: ≈ $1125

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: Early March

Rising juniors and seniors from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut can connect with professionals in the fields of art, museum, and creativity at one of the world’s finest museums—The Metropolitan Museum of Art—with this awesome paid internship. This internship isn't just for students interested in art - This opportunity enables you to connect with Museum professionals individually or in small groups, in various fields such as editorial, marketing, social media, education, scientific research, conservation, and others. 

7. Expanding Horizons

Hosting institution: Constitutional Rights Foundation

Compensation: Paid (Unspecified amount)

Format: In-person (Los Angeles, CA)

Application deadline: January 31, 2024

Calling all Los Angeles high school students: The Expanding Horizons Internship, provided by the Constitutional Rights Foundation, offers first-generation, college-bound high school students from Los Angeles an intensive experience in skill development and personal growth to prepare them for college, career, and civic life. The program involves interactive seminars in the spring, followed by a paid summer internship at a prestigious organization in law, government, or non-profit sectors. Eligibility is a bit limited, so check that you meet the requirements

8. US Department of Education Internships

Hosting institution: Department of Education

Compensation: Paid (Unspecified amount)

Format: In-person (Various locations)

Application deadline: March 31, 2024

Interested in shaping educational policy? The Department of Education (ED) provides internships for students and recent graduates, offering them valuable work experience in government and federal education, policy, and administration. Through the program, participants can contribute to the Department's mission of promoting educational excellence, equal access, and global competitiveness for student achievement. Internships can be in areas like Human Resources Management, Education Policies, Data Analytics, Project Management, Training and Development, Grants Management, Communications

9. Adler Planetarium Summer High School Internship

Hosting institution: Adler Planetarium

Compensation: ≈ $2450

Format: In-person (Chicago, IL)

Application deadline: March 3rd

For teens in Chicago: The Adler Teen Summer Internship provides you with authentic STEM learning opportunities, enabling you to gain real-world work experience and various transferable skills. Internship positions vary from year to year, but ones in the past have included Marketing positions, writing and communications positions, and data analytics. The application process is very formal and requires you to submit a cover letter and interview, but the organizers have put together a pretty comprehensive guide on how to apply so you shouldn't be intimidated

10. Geosciences Bridge Program

Hosting institution: University of Maryland Eastern Shore

Compensation: Paid $3000 and college credit

Format: In-person (Princess Anne, MD)

Application deadline: March

The Geosciences Bridge Program is a 6-week program that pays students who want to work in geosciences. You will go on field trips, learn in classes, and get hands-on experience. You will also get housing, meals, travel to and from the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (UMES), and a payment for your work. Although this program provides college credit, it is a bit exclusive as you have to be a high school senior who is committed to going to college in the upcoming Fall and already interested in a geoscience discipline.

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11. The Scripps Research Translational Institute (SRTI)

Hosting institution: Scripps Research

Compensation: Unpaid but receive college credit

Format: In-person (San Diego, CA)

Application deadline: March 30th, 2024

SRTI promotes advanced personalized healthcare through cutting-edge research, including mHealth monitoring. Their Student Research Internship Program is for highly motivated students interested in health sciences, statistics, and computational/computer science. Interns work with and learn from internationally-renowned scientists in genomics, bioinformatics, and digital medicine. The program aims to prepare future leaders in translational medical research.This program does a great job of combining lab work, research projects, and mentorship.

12. AFRL Scholars Program

Hosting institution: Universities Space Research Association

Compensation: ≈ $3750.40

Format: In-person (Various locations)

Application deadline: January 10, 2024

The AFRL Scholars Program provides paid internships for STEM students at the undergraduate, graduate, and high school levels. Interns work with AFRL scientists and engineers on innovative research projects, gaining valuable hands-on experience. We think it's great that you can get paid and work with top scientists while still in high school.

13. Hutton Junior Fisheries Biology Program

Hosting institution: American Fisheries Society

Compensation: $3,000 stipend and all-expense-paid trip

Format: In-person (Various locations)

Application deadline: January 16, 2024

The Hutton Program is a 8-week paid summer internship and mentoring program for high school juniors and seniors interested in learning about fisheries and aquatic science. If this niche is of interest to you, this is a great experience and a potential springboard into learning biological sciences in college

14. JHIBS

Hosting institution: Johns Hopkins

Compensation: Paid (Unspecified amount)

Format: Online and in-person (Baltimore, MD)

Application deadline: February 

JHIBS' in person experience is extremely selective, taking only 5-6 students per year from the Baltimore area. The virtual research experience is offered to students across the US. The JHIBS program offers to high school juniors and seniors interested in science or medicine. In-person internships are held at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine Department of Neurology for 8 weeks, during which interns participate in research projects, clinical rotations, and attend educational sessions. Virtual internships run for 5 weeks, including various science-related activities, mentorship training, and a $500 scholarship for successful completion. Underrepresented students with strong academic records are preferred, and in-person interns are paid and receive transportation funds.

15. Student Leadership Program

Hosting institution: Bank of America

Compensation: Paid (Unspecified amount)

Format: In-person (Various locations)

Application deadline: January 17, 2024

This is a great opportunity if you're interested in working with non-profits and looking to change your own community. The Student Leaders program accepts hundreds of community-minded high schoolers annually. These students participate in a paid 8-week internship with nonprofits, such as Boys and Girls Clubs of America and Habitat for Humanity, and gain firsthand experience in serving their communities.

16. Microsoft Discovery Program

Hosting institution: Microsoft

Compensation: Paid (Unspecified amount)

Format: In-person (Redmond, WA)

Application deadline: Early March

For graduating seniors in the western Washington area only: This full-time, fully paid, 4-week Microsoft internship will teach you programming fundamentals alongside Microsoft employees as your mentors. 

17. High School Research Experience

Hosting institution: Boyce Thompson Institute and Cornell

Compensation: $4,000 

Format: In-person (Ithaca, NY)

Application deadline: March 31st

Boyce Thompson Institute (BTI), Cornell University, and the USDA offer high school summer research internships for students who are interested in plant science research and computational biology. These internships provide an opportunity to gain research experience and explore if a career in science or a biological major is right for you. No prior lab experience is required, and selected students have a research mentor (grad or post doc researcher) and a faculty mentor. This is incredible mentorship for a high school program

18. NASA High School Internship

Hosting institution: NASA

Compensation: Paid (Varies by position)

Format: In-person (Various locations)

Application deadline: Varies by opportunity

A great opportunity to work for a reputable organization, NASA offers a multitude of internship opportunities for high school sophomores, juniors, and seniors over 16 years of age. Internships are designed to increase the capabilities and diversity of the nation’s STEM workforce and provide participants with the opportunity to perform research under the guidance of a mentor at a NASA facility. 

19. KP Launch

Hosting institution: Kaiser Permanente 

Compensation: ≈ $4340 minimum

Format: In-person (Oakland, CA)

Application deadline: January 1st

This is a rare opportunity in high school to explore careers in healthcare. The KP LAUNCH Intern Experience provides a paid, 7-week summer work experience at the hourly minimum wage ($15.00-$17 per hour), introducing interns to administrative and support careers in healthcare environments. While interns will not participate in medical treatment or procedures, they will benefit from weekly workshops to develop personal and professional skills, mentorship from supervisors, and networking opportunities with peers and senior leaders in the field through work-based activities, community service projects, or social events.

20. BRAINYAC

Hosting institution: Columbia University

Compensation: Paid (Unspecified amount)

Format: In-person (New York, NY)

Application deadline: Fall

The BRAINYAC program by the Zuckerman Institute provides a summer research experience in a Columbia laboratory for high-schoolers. It offers a chance to connect with real scientists, learn key research skills, and become part of the Columbia University community. The program is available only for select schools and partner programs, so the opportunity is limited. But if you're affiliated with partner programs, this could be an amazing opportunity!

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