Internships are definitely a crucial part of acquiring almost any full time position after college. No matter what your major, (business, science, education, social science, poly-sci, etc.) having an internship, or multiple, throughout your time in school could be the difference between getting that coveted position right out of college or ending up settling, or better yet, unemployed.
You may be saying "But I'm in high school, I don't know what I want to do in college let alone the rest of my life." don't fret! Even if you are in high school and you don't know what you want to major in, internships can still be extremely beneficial. I started an internship at a law office in my junior year of high school. I had no idea what I wanted to do, but I took the internship, and it helped me realize that I hate law and helped me find what I love. I also learned some valuable skills like how to write professionally and use software that I'll have to use in my future field of business.
Now that you're interested in internships (hopefully) how do you get them? Well, if you're in high school it's a lot different than if you're in college.
Most people think if you're in high school it's impossible to find internships, but it's actually the opposite; you just have to be motivated and active in your pursuit. If you're interested in politics, contact local city councilors or local political candidates about your interest in their field. Inquiring about any help they may need could actually pay off. Most people running a campaign are always looking for volunteers or interns to help them during the busy campaign months. If law is more your interest, try emailing a local, self-run, attorney's office or contact local elementary schools if you're into education. Talk to your science teachers about research opportunities they may have if you have a budding love of science. There are so many opportunities for high school students to get experience in various fields of interest and find out if it's something they actually want to do for the rest of their lives. Just get out, make calls, and send emails! Being proactive in an internship-search as a high school student can greatly improve your chances and, not to mention, add some great experience to your resumes for college.
There are an immense amount of opportunities for college students to find internships right on campus! Almost every college has a career center that has people ready and willing to help you on an internship search. Getting to know your professors can also help you score an awesome internship opportunity. Most professors conduct or are involved in outside research in their fields or know people who have become very successful in their field; these connections open up a ton of doors for internships, paid and unpaid, and having a relationship with your professors can make you a top candidate in their eyes. If you already have your dream internship in mind, getting close to your professors can also help with recommendations .
Paid v. Unpaid
Unpaid internships are obviously not the most desirable situation for, well, anyone really, but if you start interning young, and gain experience with some unpaid internships, you become a better qualified applicant for paid internships down the line. But there are benefits to both.
As an unpaid intern, you're there for experience. So although you may not be making any money, you still have to work as though you were. Giving your all in an unpaid internship shows the employers that you really are there to learn, which could lead to being entrusted with more responsibility and possibly even be considered for a paid position or a full time job after college. Unpaid internships can also give you an insight into what the field you hope to enter is really like by watching the full time employees and by being taught by them. Before you take on an unpaid intern position, consider your current position. Can you afford one? Do the benefits of the experience outweigh having to possibly get a second job? If you can do it, you definitely should! It's great experience and could land you a full time gig.