Internships aren't just for college students. High-school students are pursuing them to gain experience and test-drive industries. While some internships for...

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Internships aren’t just for college students. High-school students are pursuing them to gain experience and test-drive industries.

While some internships for high-school students mainly take place during the summer, the best time is during the school year. In the summer, high-school students may have to compete with college students for jobs that could be internships.

Pam Norman, executive director of Indiana INTERNnet, recommends beginning to search for an internship four to six months in advance.

“If nothing is secured right now for the summer, students should put their search on full throttle,” she said. They should prepare a plan, network, research opportunities and pick an industry, she said.

Here are five tips for landing an internship:

• Many high schools have formal programs in place. Work with internship coordinators, career counselors or teachers to learn about opportunities in your community. If your school doesn’t offer a program, strike out on your own. Come up with a plan to submit to your guidance counselor or principal for approval.

Many schools require that students work a minimum number of hours each week and that the employer fill out a monthly evaluation of the student’s progress.

Network

Use family and friends to search for internship opportunities. Alert people in your inner circle that you are searching.

“Your internship lead could come from Uncle Bob or Aunt Susie,” Norman said.

Talk to professionals who may work in the area you wish to pursue. For example, if you wish to pursue a career in sports, talk to your coaches and owners of local sports complexes about opportunities.

Research opportunities

If you know which industry you would like to explore, research companies in that industry and contact their human-resources departments to find out if they would be willing to host you for a few weeks this summer.

For an internship to be effective, it must be related to your career area of interest.

“If a student already has a job at KFC and wants to pursue music as a career, we cannot turn that KFC job into an internship,” said Kim Dickerson, a guidance counselor at North Central High School in Indianapolis.

Attend career fairs

Employers usually are looking for permanent employees, but career fairs are a great one-stop shop where you can connect with many companies. A well-prepared résumé and face-to-face contact may help get your foot in the door.

Career-fair announcements are often found in the employment section of the newspaper. Your school guidance counselor also may know about local events. Search engines like Careerbuilder.com and Monster.com may advertise job fairs.

Search online

Register for a free student account that will allow you to create an online profile, upload a résumé, search for internships and apply for internships from the convenience of your desktop.

Companies also may post openings on job search engines.