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Finding an Internship

First Things First….

Before you begin looking for an internship, you need to think about what you are trying to get out of the experience. For internships, decide whether you want job experience, something fun, or an internship where you volunteer for a worthy cause. No matter what direction you choose, you will most likely be spending a minimum of 3 months working on that project, so it is important to do what is right for you. Most students looking for internships are trying to find out what a particlular career path might look like and also for possible college majors. Don’t worry, most high school students have no idea what they want to do with their lives and that is perfectly okay. That is what internships are for; to get you on the right track, and to help you explore career options.

Internships come in every possible field and it is necessary to narrow down what you want. What are your interests and what jobs look appealing to you? Make a short list of your hobbies and favorite school subjects. What jobs coincide with the list? That’s where you start your internship search. Do not feel scared to chose one over the other right now. You have plenty of opportunities to change your mind and do more internships in the future. It is better to find out now that you do not like a certain environmental field, than wait till after a college degree.

Even with your general list of internship ideas, it is still necessary to make your search even narrower. This is where you have to make judgments on what you want to get out of an internship. Can you afford to work for free? Many internships are listed as unpaid, but still require a large time commitment. Do not necessarily cut out unpaid internships, because many give you invaluable work experience and contacts. Many environmental jobs with not-for-profits are unpaid, because these organizations have smaller budgets and cannot afford to pay interns. Another narrowing criteria is where you can work. Do your parents want you traveling outside of your borough or taking trips on the train to an internship site?  Also, how much time are you willing to give to this internship? Is it going to be after school, part time or full time? Some internships may ask for your availability before they can accept you. Now that you have your specific list of internship goals and ideas, its time to start the search.

Making your Search Worthwhile

The best advice for your internship search is to start early. Many internships require applications, recommendations and essays with early deadlines. Most high school students want an internship for the summer and these applications are usually due around January. For summer internships, it is smart to start searching two three months ahead. Planning early insures that you are able to apply for every position you want and not be limited by a few choices. Additionally, it may take time for you to write the essays or get recommendations from your teachers.

Resumes are the first things people look at when they are hiring and it is important to develop a strong resume. Talk to your parents, the career center and teachers to get advice on resume format and what you should include.  High school students do not have a lot of work experience, so it is important to highlight your grades, after school activities, hobbies and career goals. Look online for common resume formats and remember, PROOF READ for grammatical or spelling errors. 

Where to Look

High school students miss many internship opportunities, because they are afraid to talk with adults or send out their information. To get your name out, first talk with teachers at your school who are familiar with your internship goals. They may know of companies or organizations that offer internship opportunities and they may have names of employees you can contact.

Networking is a key part of getting ahead and you should never be afraid to talk to people. Opportunities to network happen all the time, in local conferences, public meetings and internet forums. Remember to bring your resume with you to any networking event.

Lists of available internships can be found in most high schools. The career center and college office have information on companies that frequently hire interns in your area. Some organizations may even come to your school looking for interns. Keep your eyes open for postings around your school. The alumni and career offices also carry lists of the current whereabouts of alumni who may be willing to hire a student from their alma mater.

The internet is one of the most important and useful resources when it comes to finding an internship. Search for companies in your chosen field and look for internship postings on their website. If a company does not have internships listed, that does not mean they are not hiring. Sending an introductory email and your resume to someone in human resources shows you have initiative and a real desire for working at that organization.

Many websites on the internet are designed specifically for internship searches. Most are affiliated with job and college search websites. These websites have may opportunities, but on occasion they may not have what you are looking for. Other websites that are not commonly known may specialize in your field. For example,, specializes in non-profit internships. Make sure to search the internet for both popular and obscure internship search websites. Some common search engines are included in this document.


Relax; be confident, understanding and always persistent. The right internship is out there for you, don’t give up!!

Volunteer Opportunities

American Littoral Society

Assist in New York State Beach Cleanup

Central Park Conservancy

Green Guides & Park Greeters

Children’s Museum of Manhattan

Summer Volunteer as an assistant teacher at a day camp

Christodora, Inc.

Work with environmental education programs

Meadowlands Environment Center

Community Service Options for Students

Nature Conservancy of New York

New York Aquarium

The New York Aquarium’s Animal Husbandry Department Volunteer Program

Osborn Laboratories of Marine Sciences (OLMS) housed at the New York Aquarium affords volunteer participants with unique opportunities to work in active marine science laboratories.

New York Botanical Garden

Gardening and Horticulture

New York Hall of Science Career Ladder

Partnerships for Parks

Horticulture opportunities throughout the 5 boroughs

South Street Seaport Museum

Grades 10-12; help run activities, programs and tours for the museum