Over the weekend, I spoke at the #Surefire Conference in Los Angeles. Prior to this event, I knew young girls (High School Girls) were interested in internships but this event was the icing on the cake. I met so many brilliant young girls who are thinking about what they can do now to help them achieve their career dreams in the future. It was a life changing moment to see these young minds at work and to watch these young girls talk about not only what they want to be when they grow up but also the steps they need to take to get there. I understand that not all employers are going to be open to taking on high school interns but here are some things that young high school students can do before the actual internship.
1. Keep Thinking About Your Future.
This might sound cheesy, but just thinking about your future and the different things you might want to do with your career is a great exercise. And don't be afraid to think big. If you could do anything in the world, what would you do? Where would you work? What industry would you be a part of? How would you spend your time? Think about these questions, write down your answers, and add to them frequently.
2. Start a "Career Notebook".
I always say that one notebook can change your life. Get a new notebook (at the grocery store - or anywhere). Start writing down the answers to the questions above in your notebook. Anytime you really enjoy something you are learning about in school and catch yourself wanting to learn more, write about in your career notebook. Anytime you come across a website or blog that you really enjoy, write it down. Writing down all of your thoughts will help you narrow down what you might want to do with your future.
3. Ask Questions.
At the #Surefire conference everyone really emphasized the importance of maintaining a positive curiosity about life and the power of asking questions. I want to re-emphasize that here. Always ask questions. In fact, let's say you think you might want to be a lawyer when you grow up. Is your dad's friend a lawyer? Ask your father if you can sit down with his friend for 15 minutes and ask him some questions about his job. This is called an informational interview. Go to the meeting with a notebook (your career notebook) and a pen and have some questions written out ahead of time. Show your dad's friend that you take the meeting very seriously.
4. Think About Job Shadowing.
Although it might be a little early to do an internship, job shadowing is a great idea. If you meet anyone in an industry that you find interesting (maybe a speaker in your class, or a family friend) ask if you could come to their office one day after school and job shadow them. Perhaps you could attend meetings with them, sit at their desk with them, and just observe how they spend their time. This will give you some insight into how they spend their time and if that job is something you might be interested in.
5. Talk to Your Guidance Counselor About Internships.
Today, more and more high schools are establishing internship programs for their students. At some schools you can get college credit for doing an internship. Have a conversation with your guidance counselor and ask what your options are. Information is power :)