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Why You Should Consider Hiring High School Interns

By Tom Weber

September 13, 2018

width=600While some companies might not even realize it’s possible to hire teens as interns, others might be hesitant to do so due to some common misconceptions related to these types of programs. Some misconceptions are that high school students are too young, they aren’t ready for this type of experience, they aren’t capable of the work involved, or they don’t have enough to contribute to the internship experience.

Companies have noted the following benefits that interns bring to an organization:

Valuable work. Students at this age are learning things earlier and at a faster rate than many adults. They have a keen interest in and experience with different areas of technology and can pick up new things quickly.

New ways of thinking. Having input from varying ages and levels of experience can help improve the energy in your company and add to the diversity of thought and actions your company takes. These younger workers can help improve your brand awareness and appeal to a younger audience.

Management opportunities. Having high school interns on staff can be a great experience for your college interns. It can give them the opportunity to take on a management and mentorship role when it comes to working with the younger students.

Workforce development. Your high school intern could very well become a part-time employee while they work their way through a local college program, and then potentially become a full-time employee with solid work experience.

Community partnerships. When you begin an internship program for high school students within your company, you have the potential to create long-term sustainable partnerships with valuable organizations and schools within your community.

How to Create a High School Internship Program

As companies begin to consider creating a high school internship program, it’s helpful to understand how schools are preparing their students for internships. Many schools offer opportunities to focus on specific industries such as culinary arts, health care, and more, so that students can acquire hands-on skills they will need in the real world. Schools are also bringing in companies to do activities such as mock interviews, résumé writing, and job shadowing. These partnerships can be invaluable for not only the students, but also for the schools and the companies themselves. When creating a program, consider:

  • holding orientation in a more relaxed setting that appeals to and better engages younger workers;
  • conducting separate trainings for each high school intern to establish a connection and ensure they have a thorough understanding of expectations and have their specific questions answered;
  • realizing that, for paperwork purposes, younger students may not have a photo ID, a driver’s license, and other documentation that is more commonly expected from older hires;
  • understanding that transportation can be a challenge and helping ease this issue by providing bus passes, allowing remote working opportunities, or creating ride-sharing options;
  • connecting the interns with specific employees who are excited about working with high school students and who are not biased against younger age;
  • helping interns build their “soft skills,” such as the importance of being on time, how to communicate in a professional setting, how to take constructive criticism, how to dress, and other practices that usually come with experience;
  • ensuring you have clearly defined projects for the interns to work on and clearly identified time frames in which they will conduct their work; and
  • checking in with your high school interns one-on-one on a regular basis, and providing “lightweight” performance reviews periodically so that they have an understanding of that part of the job process, as well as regular feedback on their performance.

Top 10 Key Points to Know About Gen Z

They’re social, educated, digital natives—and they are just entering the workforce. Have you heard of them yet? They’re the newbies on the block. The newest generation to enter the workforce: Generation Z. Generation Z is identified as individuals born after 1995, making them 23 years old or younger today. They are just entering the workforce and are vastly different from generations that have come before them. They are described as being optimistic with high expectations. They grew up in a generation in which the internet, laptops, and everything else has been at their fingertips. New things that have come out with this generation include apps, social games, and tablets.

So, who are they, and what might define them? I think it is important to note that, like any prior generation, not every member of this generation will fit into the stereotype that is being created for it. However, I’ll share some of what the data is showing from sources such as Forbes and the Huffington Post.

  1. They are a social generation. They spend a lot of time socializing with friends and family each day.
  2. They are multitaskers. They thrive off utilizing multiple screens and devices to accomplish their work.
  3. They have an entrepreneurial spirit. Nearly 75 percent of them want to start their own businesses one day.
  4. They are educated. They want to constantly learn, and 50 percent will have a college education.
  5. They want to do good. They are philanthropists at heart.
  6. They are the first true natives of the digital era. Thus, they spend more than 15 hours per week on their smartphones.
  7. They want to interact with people. They enjoy face-to-face conversations despite being so digital.
  8. They are tech-savvy. They depend less on books and information from advisors and instead use the internet to answer any questions that might arise.
  9. They lack focus. Their attention span is eight seconds long, so they require constant stimulation. They have been connected since birth. Some 40 percent state that they are fully addicted to their smart devices.
  10. They are cautious. They spend less and save more as a result of growing up during the Great Recession.

Lastly, whether your interns are from high school, college, or both, cherish them, listen to them, and they will help you and your business become more tech-savvy, relatable to their generation for your workforce growth, and relevant to them now.

width=150Tom Weber is folding carton advisor for AICC. Do you have any questions? Ask Tom at 440-221-3103 or