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Since the signing of the first Boston Compact in 1982, businesses have been active partners with the Boston Public Schools, hiring high school students for summer jobs through the Private Industry Council (PIC). The PIC manages the private sector component of the Mayor’s Summer Jobs Campaign, as well as a relatively small number of publicly funded, community based jobs and internships. Employers are recruiting the workforce of the future by providing students with real work experiences now, just as they are making important decisions that will determine their future.
Increasingly, employers are looking to their high school employees as a source of talent and diversity. Summer jobs, unpaid internships, and volunteer experiences—they can all help you figure out what you want in college and a career. During the academic year, you might only be able to intern for five to 10 hours each week while balancing classes, homework, club meetings, practices, and perhaps even a second job. At a summer internship, you don’t have to split your focus, and you can work full days instead of three- or four-hour blocks after class. With a formal internship you’ll see how different the working world is from the classroom. You can fit in weekly or biweekly volunteering sessions on top of part-time or even full-time jobs. On college applications, summer volunteering shows students are committed to giving back, thinking about their future, and interested in the global community, says Brown. For many students, it’s their first job or work experience, and it may be their first time traveling internationally too.

High school senior Katie Rice spent two weeks in July 2010 in Palampur, India, working in a government-sponsored daycare center.
Jobs teach students the habits of paid work – attendance and punctuality, speaking and listening, accepting direction and criticism, and problem solving and taking initiative.
By providing internships, employers play an active role in teaching students about their industries and the jobs available with the appropriate education, training, and work experience. Not only did it stand out on his college application (there aren’t many teenage magicians out there), but he had a great topic for his admission essay.
If you know there’s an aerospace engineering company close to home, ask if they have summer jobs for high school students. Jobs aren’t defined by major or academic subject as much as by interest and skill set.
Or you could spend one week on a large-scale project, like rebuilding houses in New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity. Part-time jobs, international internships, and local volunteer positions are all steps you can take to figure out where you want to go with your education and career.
The PIC actively organizes these internships in coordinating the private sector component of the Mayor’s summer jobs campaign. Toomey says he strongly believes his summer job helped him gain a full scholarship to Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts, where he graduated from in 2009. Your high school might already partner with local businesses, coordinating summer jobs for students; just ask your guidance counselor.

But internships tend to be more related to your career interests than the average summer job, and there’s a learning curve. Like summer jobs and internships, volunteer organizations are easy to find online or through your guidance counselor. International companies often look for summer interns, including high school students from the United States, and working overseas gives young applicants that extra edge of adapting to a different culture. And they know students didn’t shell out all that money to travel thousands of miles just to sit on the sidelines. Even A+ students can fail to make the cut if they send in an application with no outside activities. The Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University has shown that summer jobs increase the employment, earnings, and college-going rates of participants after they graduate from high school. You might even be able to cash in your summer internship experience for college credit, but you have to speak up and connect to find out. You will need it later in life, so you might as well practice now.) Finally, you can always do a simple job search online or ask local companies if they hire high school students.

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