Updated: Feb 27, 2020
If you're a high school student, someone has probably told you, "go apply for an internship!". While it seems like something simple, there is a lot more to an internship than one would think.
In that case, what is an internship?
An internship is a professional learning opportunity that gives students exposure to the working field. They can last for varying periods depending on the area of work and kind of internship. Many summer internships for high schoolers last around eight weeks, but some internships can continue throughout the school year, either during or after school hours.
There are multiple benefits to an internship, with the two most important ones being application and experience. Through an internship, students can apply what they learn in the classroom to work in the field. Students also get to experience subjects that they are interested in in the work setting and prepare themselves for what they might see and need to know should they choose to delve further into the field.
Internships allow for networking. Students can make connections with professionals in the fields that they are interested in and meet other like-minded individuals. These connections can be useful for later internships and learning opportunities. They also aid in the development of soft skills. While soft skills, such as communication, teamwork, problem-solving, and creativity, are developed in school, students develop them alongside peers who are the same age and have learned through the same curriculum. Internships bring people of different ages and education together. Moreover, the goals set for most interns are professional ones that have a significant impact on a large, diverse group of people, which differs from the effect of a minor school project.
There are so many different ways to get an internship, and the most effective way is to connect. You might have run into many internship opportunities through in-school programs, extracurricular events, and family connections. Sources such as Linkedin and internship fairs are also great places to reach out, talk to companies about what they are looking for, and learn about the company's projects. However, you have to be the one to reach out. It is necessary to follow up on these connections, talk to the people who run the companies you may be interested in and forge strong relations.
Researching companies that you are interested in is also a great way to find internships. If you can find companies near you that you are interested in, definitely reach out to them and show your interest. Even if the companies may not be looking for someone, don't get discouraged! They could always potentially open up positions or allow people to shadow if they appreciate your interest.
Kashmir World Foundation, for instance, offers a wide variety of internships to a diverse group of students from all over the world.
Shreya, a high school intern who has been working on KwF's Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning projects since June 2019, has an interesting story behind her work with KwF.
"I landed my internship with KwF through the Technovation App Challenge Competition," she says. The Technovation App Challenge brings teams of students together and challenges them to solve real-world problems with technology. "For this app challenge, I presented my ideas and talked about my application's development. My team won first place, and for the prize, we flew drones with KwF. Talking to Ms.Pandolfi and other interns from KwF, I found their projects regarding snow leopards and sea turtles really interesting. I was able to contact Ms.Pandolfi further and had the honor of acquiring an internship with KwF. It has been an enriching experience."
"With my internship, I have learned how to train a neural network, and currently, I am working on a forest fire detection project. In this project, my team and I are training our neural network to detect forest fires for early prevention of spread. I've interviewed various professionals on this topic and gathered lots of intel on how to approach my problem. As we continue to develop this project, I am excited to see where it goes!"
A computer science enthusiast, Shreya has been thrilled to apply her CS knowledge in a real-world application. "It is really exciting to work on a project that could be making a significant impact on the world. I really like how my internship is not a set curriculum but rather a learning experience through trial, error, and correcting my mistakes. Overcoming each obstacle is rewarding, and I don't think that I would be able to learn such complex skills in a typical classroom setting."
"I have learned how to train neural networks, more Python coding, Linux commands, and the implementation of machine learning. I worked with a specific neural network called the YOLO(You Only Look Once) Object Detection network. I have been using this network to train my images. To label my images to train them, I had to learn Linux commands and to train my images, I had to learn Python."
What makes Kashmir World Foundation unique is its multifaceted approach to drone technology and wildlife protection as it has divisions for education, science, and art. I'm currently working as one of KwF's Communications and Marketing interns. Though I've only been with KwF for a few weeks, I've already been able to strengthen my writing and research skills as well as develop strategies to expand KwF's education base. While it is difficult to explore your interests in school, internships provide an opportunity for everyone and can even open unexpected doors of opportunity.
To conclude, Shreya offers advice that every student should hear.
"Don't be afraid to reach out! Companies are always ready to see interested students and help them out. The worst that can happen is that the companies may not be in a position to offer an internship, in which case you can always ask other companies. Make sure to keep exploring!"