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Intern Diaries: Getting Ahead with a High School Internship

January 7, 2014

Alexandra Matos (@AlexandraMMatos) is a student at Florida State University, class of 2017. She will be starting her second internship at the Tallahassee Democrat as an Administrative Assistant Intern, the most prestigious internship the company has to offer. Looking for internships for high school students?

 Intern Diaries: Getting Ahead with a High School Internship By Alexandra Matos

The summer after my junior year of high school, I acquired my first internship at the Public Defender’s Office in my county. I received all kinds of remarks from people at my school, including: “But don’t you have to be at least 18 to get an internship?” or “Why would you get an internship if you’re not even in college yet?” Had I let all those comments get to me, I may have never even applied for the internship. Instead, I went on a whim, applied, and had one of the best learning experiences of my life.

For years now, I have attempted to explain to my peers that following the norm of waiting until their junior or senior year of college to obtain valuable work experience is not the right choice. Especially in a world where more and more teens are becoming published authors, tech geniuses and academic prodigies. Why wait to intern?

“Applying on a gut feeling at the age of 16, making mistakes, and receiving a lot more than I asked for from my first internship all led me to where I am today.”

Now, I’m not saying that I walked into my first day as an intern at the Public Defender’s Office as a member of the Dream Team. I had a rough start. I made just about every mistake an intern could possibly make. I could have dressed better, acted more appropriately, among other things. Looking back, the attorney I interned for gave me lot of slack. Even though I did make a lot of dumb mistakes, it was worth every minute I got at that internship. From my first week there, the real world slapped me right in the face. I saw a man get deported in court without even being able to say good-bye to his family. I was instantly humbled. When I describe the experience to my friends, it doesn’t nearly come close to actually seeing it in person.

For all those students who have applied to public defense internships, my goal is not to send you running to revoke your applications. It is quite the opposite! The touching experiences I encountered at my first internship gave me the opportunity to see things that politicians debate about first-hand, all at the age of 16. It also helped me develop a better understanding of the real world. I wish this same level of understanding was universal.

The moral of this story is that an internship may give you a lot more than it originally offered. Applying on a gut feeling at the age of 16, making mistakes, and receiving a lot more than I asked for from my first internship all led me to where I am today. In January, I’ll be starting my second internship at the Tallahassee Democrat as an Administrative Assistant Intern, the most prestigious internship the company has to offer. My advice to everyone seeking an internship: throw away any fears you may have about filling out an application for your dream internship and wholeheartedly go after what you want. It will pay off.

Alexandra, thanks for taking the time to share this with us! Start searching through high school internship here.

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