Many high school students are faced with a common challenge of finding the balance between academic responsibilities, engagement in extracurricular activities, volunteering and taking on leadership roles, exploring interests, and taking time for self-care or spending time with friends. At Burlingame, students have the ability to condense this checklist by doing an internship.
An internship is an opportunity for students to help others in their community, learn about their passions, and develop skills that are quite helpful in the working world.
The benefits of becoming an intern are abundant, according to Carrie Hermann, Career Center Assistant and Service Learning Liaison.
“If students are starting to apply for these types of things now, I think it also helps them build their writing skills and to start thinking about, you know, ‘if I’m going to be applying to colleges and different jobs,’ the more the student has practice writing and filling out answers to application questions, the better off they are,” Hermann said.
Yes, internships look mighty fine when printed on a college application or a resume, but that is not the only reason why students pursue them. Many are guided by personal interest. It works both ways: an internship can appear more exciting if it corresponds with personal interests, and involvement in an similar extracurricular field can make an internship application look attractive.
“If you’re in a service club or maybe performing arts, whether that be drama or band, they want to know how involved you are, and what types of leadership roles or positions you have had,” Hermann said.
Senior Larissa Qian interned for food filmmaker and BHS alum Kevin Longa and for the Organization of Chinese Americans.
“My parents are first-generation Chinese immigrants, so I have a really strong connection to Chinese culture and current events that are related to the Asian community… So Ms. Hermann told me about this great opportunity to learn more about my community and work with people in my community,” Qian said.
In fact, internships can involve anything from street cleanup to working with NASA. While interning for Longa, Qian assisted him in reaching out to food entrepreneurs to interview in his food documentary series, “TASTE.” Qian managed his social media, organized his photos, and did research to find food producers for the documentary-maker to interview. Her responsibilities often took a turn for the quirky.
Qian described her work researching a man who “quit his job in Silicon Valley, making six figures a year, to become a snail farmer.”
While interning at the Organization of Chinese Americans, Qian interviewed local Asian Americans for a newsletter.
“For the Organization of Chinese Americans, we had to write a newsletter every few months, so my task was to interview local Asian Americans,” Qian said. “I interviewed a Foster City councilman, and I interviewed a woman that had wrongly been accused of treason by the federal government.”
Generally, administrators who work in the career center will post major opportunities up on the Schoolloop bulletin. Sometimes, internships are even advertised on BTV. Some current internships offered in the local community include programs with Kaiser Permanente (KP Launch), a ten-week program at San Francisco International Airport, and a Metropolitan Transportation Commission internship.
The application process is relatively simple. First, one should research all the criteria for a certain business’s internship applications. This knowledge is usually found on a website. Next, one must compile an application. A minimum GPA of 3.0 is advised.
Most businesses look for ambitious students with a good work ethic and leadership skills; “how engaged you’ve been in the community, how you’ve helped other people, because they’re looking for individuals that have achieved,” Hermann said. “And achieved whether it be academically, or outside in the community, so that they know, ‘when I pick this person, for this particular role or position, my assumption is that they’re going to do just as well as they did performing elsewhere.’”
But it is important to avoid procrastination. Many internships in the Bay Area are quite competitive.
“As summer approaches,” Hermann said, “companies tend to send the information about jobs and opportunities they have.”