High School Age Interns

At NBC News, Nona Willis Aronowitz writes about the rise of the high school age intern. High school students are taking on both unpaid and paid internships to gain experience in a field they are interested in or to make themselves stand out during the college application process.

Aaron Haney, an 18-year-old senior at Loveless, interned two years in row at a local orthopedic practice in Montgomery, and feels “fortunate” to already know that he wants to be a surgeon.

“I didn’t want to waste my time in college,” he said. “Especially the money.”

Katherine Lothrop, 18, interned one summer with Food for Good at PepsiCo through the Dallas mayor’s program and discovered her love of industrial engineering and food management. She helped design educational programs for low-income families on how to eat healthfully on a budget and assisted with experiments on new packaging material for milk, to make sure the milk remained cold and safe to drink for several hours.

But there’s a major difference between the Dallas mayor’s program and the field study class in Montgomery: the former pays the kids $9 an hour, while the latter pays nothing. Ross Perlin, author of “Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Earn Little in the Brave New Economy,” said all workers, whether they’re teens or not, deserve to be paid for their services.

When I was in high school, I never considered an internship, but I did a lot of regular unpaid volunteer work through various clubs and organizations (though that is a different beast).

On the flip side, I’ve had to manage a high school intern exactly once. I was working at a startup and he just appeared one day in the office. He came in a few days a week for four hours at a time, and I always felt weird about giving him work to do. Instead, we talked about some of the things he was interested in doing (he wasn’t sure), and when I did give him something to do, it was data entry and cropping images in Photoshop. I’m not sure if he got a ton out of it, but we paid him a stipend for the semester and bought him a laptop for college.

Did any of you have internships in high school?

Photo: Harris Walker

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