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Internships for Talented High School Students? 178

Posted by Cliff
from the after-the-diploma dept.
xeon4life asks: "I'm an Austin, Texas area high school senior with a slight dilemma: I need a job, I don't want what's offered at my age, and internships are not quite open for kids like me. I've recently been reading essays by Paul Graham about creating your own startup and have been motivated enough to convince two of my good friends to go into business with me later, during college. Thus, an internship at this point would be the ideal solution for me now, but nobody is willing to take me as an intern because I'm still in high school. What am I to do?"
"People have suggested that I just do what every other good American high school citizen does and take a mediocre job. The problem is, I feel it would be a waste of my talents right now to be stuck folding shirts at the local mall or flipping cheeseburgers when I could be helping develop a cutting-edge game, the next-generation compiler, or even the Linux kernel as an intern. I have a higher than most college students' understanding of concepts, and some real programming experience in languages like assembly and C/C++, but that isn't going to amount to anything if I can never find an interviewer who will at least listen to me. I'd appreciate any input the Slashdot readership can give me."
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Internships for Talented High School Students?

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  • by flikx (191915)

    You're in high school. Get a date for the prom, and get a job at McDonalds. Has your school taught you anything about being a cog?

    Worry about an internship in 2009.

    • Re:What?? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Seumas (6865) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:54PM (#12709663)
      I'd say, suck it up and get a real job. That's what being a teenager is about. I worked flipping burgers for a few weeks and then stocking shelves at a Cub Foods all night for a few weeks. Even though it wasn't very long, the hard labor, long hours, terrible bosses and coworkers, low-pay and generally hellish environment is something I'm glad I went through. In fact, I even pumped gas for three days.

      Of course, I was 16 at the time, but a few years later, I had a software career making a _lot_ of money. And knowing exactly what those kind of jobs are like makes me glad I have the job I do today. Even when work sucks the most, I can stop myself and appreciate the fact that I'm not digging ditches in the blazing sun for $12/hr or flipping burgers or stacking 50lb bags of dog food for $8/hr.

      Worry about your internship when you're in the last half of college. Don't worry about it in highschool. Besides, you're not only competing with seasoned professionals who need real jobs, but college people who need internships over the summer. You're low-man on the totem-pole.

      And if you really want to do something, go donate your time and services at a local charity that could make use of your technical skills. That will definitely look good on your college application and future resumes. Besides, you'll feel a lot better doing something you love and just getting some kharma for it than you will busting your ass at Intel or IBM for free.
    • Worry about an internship in 2009.

      Make it 2007 -- that is, if he is as talented as he claims he is. But, seeing what he himself says about his skills, i highly doubt it:

      The problem is, I feel it would be a waste of my talents right now to be stuck folding shirts at the local mall or flipping cheeseburgers when I could be helping develop a cutting-edge game, the next-generation compiler, or even the Linux kernel as an intern. I have a higher than most college students' understanding of concepts, and some

      • I can pretty much agree with the above. When I was in your shoes, I thought I was the shiznit since I was a geek and could fix any computer handed to me and could code with my eyes closed. I got bored in school since it wasn't challenging enough and didn't like my low-end, burger flippin' job. I couldn't find a part time job doing what I wanted and my school didn't offer internships. I dropped out with the guidance councilors telling me a GED was the same as a high-school diploma and went to work for a nati
  • Perhaps Rentacoder? (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I am an owner of a small software shop and would live to provide internships to capable students, since currently we have more projects than we can deal with, but I hate the hassle of doing all the paperwork required by state, and also don't like the concept of minimum wage enforced by the state. Would much rather pay by the project.

    But you might want to check Rentacoder.com and similar places where you can make some money for doing programming assignments that you choose. You won't become rich there, the
  • by Anonymous Coward
    If you're so smart, figure it out yourself.
  • Graduate!

    Ya, radical idea I know.
  • and to quote... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by JVert (578547) <.corganbilly. .at. .hotmail.com.> on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:26PM (#12709406) Journal
    So you really want an internship?

    "and internships are not quite open for kids"

    awww but I really wanna!

    Welcome ot the real world!

    Now go do something usefull on your own. Contribute to an open source project if your too high up to flip burgers. Thats the best your gonna get unless you can modivate someone who is actually out of highschool.

    Best bet is you get a job as a mail clerk, I dont know if temp agencies will touch you but part time is available with that stuff. At least with that you'll get a good idea of what work will be like.
    • learn to type you diddling twat!
    • Re:and to quote... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by MarcQuadra (129430) * on Thursday June 02, 2005 @09:36PM (#12710295)
      I disagree. I went to a high school [www.metcenter.org] that helped place me into a tech internship. You have to 'pound the pavement' and find a company that will take you on for free or cheap. Once you get past the front door you'll look quite appealing to a middle-manager and HR.

      I had two internships in high school, one was working for a local tech outfit in the repair depot, which let me network and get the A+ and Apple certifications, and the other was assisting a local grade school get connected to the internet, which let me learn how to integrate technology into education and get a grasp on networking and server technology.

      If it weren't fr those internships I'd probably be flipping burgers today, but instead I work at a top-notch boarding academy and run a freelance 'managed computing' business.

      The company that ran the school I went to is active in Austin, it's called the Big Picture Company [www.bigpicture.org], they offer services to set up metcenter-like schools nationwide. find this company and ask someone for advice, they're VERY friendly.
      • My school offers "mentor connection" for juniors and seniors. Basically the hook you up with a mentor in the field of your choice (and they can place kids in top medical labs and the such, its a very demanding program) and you spend the second half of the day or so doing that (you recieve 2 credits for doing it I guess). I think some might have even had some amounts of pay.

        Personally the program didnt click with me because I would rather further my general education (IB Program) and remain with my frien

    • Re:and to quote... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ebuck (585470) on Friday June 03, 2005 @08:57AM (#12713044)
      Companies don't offer internships to high-school students, unless they are blood relatives of rather powerful upper management or somehow "connected" in a way that doesn't account for skill. Worse yet, if you do get a job (and prove yourself to your employer skillwise) they will love you.

      At first it doesn't sound like a bad thing, but when they pile on the work, it tends to get in the way of college. And they'll pay you like you don't have a college degree, even if your coworker is doing the same job, you will earn half of what he makes because he has a degree. Still you'll be making much more than a Mickey D's burger flipper, and you'll get used to the money.

      The companies that shop around for someone who is so easily exploitable (in this manner), are generally the same companies that will exploit you and your coworkers in other manners. Sadly, I know of a few very bright minds that have become so co-dependant on their companies that they cannot leave and cannot properly invest the time to finish their eduction.

      Having a degree, or more properly, a good Computer Science eduction, helps in subtle ways outside of your paycheck. It can assist you in avoiding pitfalls when writing programs. A skilled programmer may skillfully build bridges over these traps, but an educated one often finds ways to walk around them. You could theoretically get that education outside of school, but schools provide a wonderful support net of people who organize, plan, and analyze your progress in becoming a better programmer.

      If you must get some sort of computer job, start off easy. Learn to administer some of the simple server babysetting for small businesses, and work your personal contacts to find a position. Expect to be paid almost nothing, as the field is flooded with people of dubious credentials, and the reason you might be able to get a job is because your competeing with the least qualified computer "people" for the bottom-of-the-barrel types of jobs. Consider it a resume building experience, and not a money generating venture. When you do graduate, you will be noticed above the others that did nothing but go to school.
      • Sadly, I know of a few very bright minds that have become so co-dependant on their companies that they cannot leave and cannot properly invest the time to finish their eduction.

        If they're in that position then it's their fault, not that of the company. There's nothing keeping them there. If they don't like it they can quit. So what if they stop getting a paycheck, they would stop getting a paycheck no matter what job they quit! Even if they quit the super fantastic we-respect-you job like this guy is look
  • by anthony_dipierro (543308) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:26PM (#12709408) Journal
    Internships don't pay that much, and apparently either you or your two friends are incredibly rich anyway. So forget the internship, and spend your time and talent working on an open source project or two. If it's your friends that are rich and not you, convince them to set up the company now and hire you as an intern for a measly salary.
  • by Profane MuthaFucka (574406) * <busheatskok@gmail.com> on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:26PM (#12709409) Homepage Journal
    One of the hardest things to figure out when you are starting something new is how to eat while you are still making the new project work. Since you presumably still live at home, that's not a problem for you. And since you are still in high school, it's not a point of embarassment to be living with your parents.

    That means that you can work for cheap, REAL cheap, gaining experience that will help you out in the future. So, get out there and help out as many people as you can with your skills, and to hell with a "regular" internship for now. If you do a good job, they will recommend you to others.
    • This is spot on. This is a great time for you to do low hourly rate tech stuff like fixing neighborhood computers, etc. This will teach you a lot of the mechanics behind consulting, drumming up business, etc. without needing to worry about feeding mouths as you will later.

      You'll hone your core engineering skills enough as you continue to tinker, be it in college or via personal projects. But you won't really learn a lot of the instinctive business stuff there, like making customers happy, working out fair
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Customers are the most discerning employers. Remember, in the end, it's the customer that pays you. Your boss is simply redistributing that revenue amongst its employees (minus expenses and reinvestment).

    But again, your customer just cares about the product. They don't care if it was made by a team of Nobel prize winners, a bunch of high school kids, or a golden retriever.

    Business isn't rocket science. If you're of legal age in which you could form an LLC, do it. Maybe take a mediocre side job to cov
  • by ignorant_coward (883188) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:29PM (#12709444)

    You can gain other important skills by other ordinary high-school jobs. You don't have to work at a burger joint, there's libraries, and even good entry level jobs at factories. Working third shift at a factory can be loads of fun (kinda dark and mysterious).

    Also, commitments among friends in high school often end at graduation. Life gets more complex, and you can find no fault in your friends if they get a significant other or decide to change their focus in education (what if they get into a different college from you).

    Don't grow up too fast. You'll feel like you're 65 and ready to retire by the time you're 25, so be careful.
    • by Blkdeath (530393) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @11:39PM (#12711120) Homepage
      You can gain other important skills by other ordinary high-school jobs. You don't have to work at a burger joint, there's libraries, and even good entry level jobs at factories. Working third shift at a factory can be loads of fun (kinda dark and mysterious).

      I hate having mod points; I can never shut up long enough to use them. ;)

      Another important facet of getting an "ordinary high-school job" - PERSPECTIVE. Too many people in IT nowadays (and too many people entering IT) have never experienced a non-tech job. Some skills you can learn at your local burger joint, library, mall kiosk, record (CD) shop, factory;

      • People skills
      • Customer service
      • People skills
      • Mechanical aptitude
      • People skills
      • Humility
      • People skills
      • Respect for chain of command

      Oh, and by the way, people skills.

      Another good thing to keep in mind; the tech sector dried up not so long ago. When I was in college, there was promise of endless jobs for countless graduates. Schools couldn't bring enough people in! Co-op positions were available by the tree-load and we all had dollar signs in our eyes.

      Now that the "bubble has burst" and everybody's graduated we have ten applicants for every available position. This, of course, compounds this young gentleman's problem; it's an employer's market. The first set of resumees to hit the cutting room floor are those that lack a high school education. Next round - post secondary? Industry certifications? Experience? When certified college/university graduates are applying for internships (at internship rates) there's not much hope for someone without grade 12.

      Personally, I'd like to echo the suggestion to 'pound the pavement'; hit the phone book, job bank, dress nice and start visiting local businesses. If they're not specifically an IT shop but have need for some help with their systems so be it. You're probably not going to get a job with Compaq, AT&T, IBM, Microsoft et al. right out of the gate. You may find your happy niche designing in-house software for Joe's Falafal House, Inc.

      Good luck to you, son; but never hold yourself too high that you can't work like those other regular schlepps. BTW - it can actually help in the near future to show a prospective employer that you have some range of experience. It may set you far enough apart to land that dream job.

    • by ebuck (585470)
      Working in itself is a skill.

      There's a lot to be said for getting any kind of job. Office politics exist even where there are no physical buildings, and you need to learn to navigate these waters. Also, you'll have to learn what employers like and dislike in an employee, which might (at times) run against your pesonal subset of common sense. Such differing points of view of basically similar people have been the fuel for billiant workplace commentary like the comic strip Dilbert.

      Funny thing is that it
    • You can gain other important skills by other ordinary high-school jobs.

      Bull.

      Before I took an IT internship the summer of my junior year in highschool, I had an "ordinary" job.

      Do you want to know what amazing things I learned by bagging groceries?

      Let me tell you - If you think most geeks have a bad attitude regarding "sheeple", talk to a minimum wager working a demeaning job.


      It did, however, teach me one fact that I consider VERY useful - Demeaning minimum wage jobs suck, and I would quite seriou
      • I worked at a grocery store (part time, as a cashier) while getting my college degree - and here's what you didn't mention : I scored more ass working the register then anywhere else in my LIFE.

        Envision 5 six hour shifts a week, five minutes per customer - thats 300 women lined up one after another to give you a chance at scoring with them. Even the most socially inept leet haxor scores 0.33% of the time, so statistically that's 1 new sexual encounter per week. Want to increase that ratio, buy a motorcyc
  • If you're as technically competent as you're making yourself out to be, I bet you get requests to "make the Internet work" and whatnot all the time.

    My advice? Charge those people for tech support. Even if you charge half of what the cheapest shop in town charges, you'll be making mad bank, and have uber-happy customers.

    At least, that's what I did before I got my internship.

    Which I didn't get until my junior year of college after four years of applying, even though I was qualified for all of those four

  • by sparks (7204) <acrawford@lPASCA ... m minus language> on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:40PM (#12709550) Homepage
    Seriously, just go work at McDonalds or whatever. Many talented geeks suffer later in life because they don't build their interpersonal skills. Spend the summer doing something you aren't automatically good at - for me, that's anything involving actual physical work - with people you wouldn't otherwise interact with.

    I promise you you'll gain enormously from this experience; first of all you'll come to respect the dignity of the average working joe, and secondly you'll get better at forming good relationships with the non-geeks of the world. This is a useful talent. They outnumber us.

    If you're as smart and as driven as you sound, that won't wear off over the summer. I promise you the human skills you'll get from working a McJob for a while are a real benefit. And that won't hurt you when you come to apply for those internships in a few year's time.
    • Working a "regular" summer job will not help build interpersonal skills. Period. There is nothing about putting ona a fake smile while running the register or dropping a batch of fries in the deep fat fryer that will build you up as a character.

      If you do not have decent interpersonal and social skills by the time you are in trouble all ready. If anything, i'd say "floating" aruond all summer would build better interpersonal skills. Not spending time in front of a deep fat fryer, but roaming around the ar
      • "Working a "regular" summer job will not help build interpersonal skills. Period. There is nothing about putting ona a fake smile while running the register or dropping a batch of fries in the deep fat fryer that will build you up as a character."

        Maybe not as a character, but it will give you patience with your managers and the TPL reports later in life which means gold in the bank come review time ("Even when I ask you to do the most redundant of duties on weekend nights, you're always giving me a smile a
    • by 77Punker (673758) <spencr04@highpoin[ ]du ['t.e' in gap]> on Thursday June 02, 2005 @11:12PM (#12710953)
      I'm in college and I can't get a job that respects my intellect, either. During the summer I do construction.
      I'm no good at making stuff at all. I come up with ideas that are brilliant but my boss is too scatter brained to implement them even though they'd save him lots of money.

      You know what? I get paid $7.50 an hour to get the same job as the highschool dropouts I work with. That's more than any of my friends get paid. You know what else? The reason you get paid to do something is because it sucks so bad that almost nobody is willing to do it for free.
      • I'm in college and I can't get a job that respects my intellect, either. During the summer I do construction.

        One of the big reasons for this is that they give out highschool diplomas to just anybody these days. All you have to do is show up. You can't institute testing, or raise graduation requirements because it disproportionally fails out minority students, and somewhere along the line that became all that was required to be racist... No matter what the actual intent (in this case to provide employers w
      • A friend of mine from a while ago was fond of saying:

        "The more you get paid, the more the stuff you have to do sucks."
      • And $7.50 is nothing. I actually gave up on my computer science degree when I realised I could make at least as much money just doing manual labour. I'm making $16/hr now driving a delivery truck -- or about $35,000 a year, which is all I could expect to make with a degree. I could easily make double that on the oilfields here if I weren't picky about having consistent time off.
  • Just go find a normal job in the field. It will be easier to find, and don't pay any attention to the other idiots on this posting (just this one idiot). Apparently, all they can do is offer meaningly words of criticism.
  • what makes you think you are talented?

    if you are high school, why don't you go out and enjoy it?
  • by MrAndrews (456547) <<ac.9881> <ta> <mcm>> on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:44PM (#12709586) Homepage
    When I was in high school I somehow avoided real jobs and got into early multimedia-type projects (mostly Hypercard... not sure how anyone made money doing that, but hey). I was actually more interested in programming and other hackery, but couldn't get a job doing that.

    Eventually I got to work in video editing as people starting bringing computers into that realm, where I had the fantastic job of post-processing TV shows frame-by-frame to see if it was possible. The most computer-intensive work I did was writing scripts to rename large directories of files so they'd import into the video printer properly. Ugh.

    Point being: you'll never get to do what you really want to do, but what you don't necessarily want to could be far more exciting than you realize. Get paid $10/hour doing low-level grunt work, just so long as you're NEAR a computer, you'll get bloody invaluable experience in real-world work.

    I never did learn to be a real programmer, but I learned that I much prefer doing a mix of entertainment and coding anyway. Don't close any doors at this stage.
  • by Triumph The Insult C (586706) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @07:48PM (#12709623) Homepage Journal
    almost all of the community colleges in my area (maricopa county, az) allow high school students (at least seniors) to sign up and take classes. i was taking classes through one as a high school junior. see if you can do that. boom, now you're in college

    as for joel's "advice" ... imo, his 'success' has gone to his head and he now lives in a fantasy world. before i started working with computers, i painted houses and washed cars. both of those jobs taught me valuable life and career lessons a computer-related internship never would. plus, jobs like that are fun. you're still young ... have some fun before it's too late
    • as for joel's "advice"

      Note that his advice is for college students, though. A high school student will have a harder time getting a real internship, and as you note, has time to have fun and make some money.

      For college students, though -- I'd strongly recommend his advice, at least in your last couple of summers. I would have benefitted from having followed it.

    • I cut grass at a local golf course for several summers. Wouldnt have traded it for all the internships in the world. I have a great knowledge of landscaping, etc. If the IT industry ever takes a huge downturn, i can work as a landscaper. Theres nothing wrong with a little manual labor.

      And im not trying to be a troll here, but in high school? Nobody will take your seriously. It sucks, i know. Hey, get a job fixing computers at a local shop. At least it involves computers unlike other, less stimulating wage
  • Most people doing internships do so because they plan to go into a field where experience is required to get a job that gets you the experience you need to be considered for the job (vicious how that works). If you are planning to go the startup route with a couple friends, you don't need an internship.

    I'd say get together with those friends, figure out what you want to do, check to make sure you really can, and then if everything looks good, get that startup going now. If the problem is seed money (though
    • You must not have done one. In fact, an internship in the field you want to work in is a great help even if you want to start your own business. You'll get some valuable experience and even more valuable contacts, not to mention a much better idea of what the business is really like.

      For instance, the guy who created that Asterisk PBX system (and built a moderately successful startup around it) started out as an intern at a telecom company. I really doubt he would have the requisite knowledge if he start
      • You must not have done one.

        I take from this that you don't agree, but nothing in your post really counters my argument. From the question:

        I could be helping develop a cutting-edge game, the next-generation compiler, or even the Linux kernel as an intern. I have a higher than most college students' understanding of concepts, and some real programming experience in languages like assembly and C/C++, but that isn't going to amount to anything if I can never find an interviewer who will at least listen to me

  • Do like everyone else does. Start at the bottom and WORK your way up. You can work for cheap. Cash too!
    Get a summer job scratching a programmers back and fetching him coffee for $0.25/hr.
    Ask plenty of questions and show him your crappy code. Next summer mabe you will get minimum wage.
    • Just because someone is in high school doesn't mean their code is crap. I'm in high school, and can easily program circles around guys who have been programming professionally for years. This isn't because I rock, but because overall I have more experience than they do. I've been programming since I was 8, and am now 17. Thats approximately 9 years of experience.
      • 9 years experience with codeing? Nice. How about cooperating within a team of coders? How about writing accurate requirements? Putting together an architecture that can handle changing requirements? Documenting your code (not just comments)? Writing test cases? Using debuggers, profilers, CVS and other CASE tools? Do you know UML? How about PDL? Can you make an estimation on time, memory consumption, other hardware requirements? Can you approximate a mathematical algorithm in an efficient manner?

        Point is
        • And if you can do all that, and don't have any luck picking employers- you'll get replaced by some code monkey in India who doesn't waste time with good software design and for that matter, even making sure their code runs correctly.

          And then, if you're like me, the product will hit the customer- who will then hire your sorry ass for 1/4th what you were making during the .COM boom to debug and rewrite all of that junk code that comes out of India.
  • And lie about your age and diploma. If you really want the experience that will make you a successfull entrepreneur in 21st century America, then this process will get you an internship at the type of company where you will be able to learn the most; both mistakes and solutions through bending the truth when it is profitable to do so.
    • I renember reading how wrong it was to lie on your resume. You could get fired and forced to pay back what wages were earned when you were caught.

      I can't belive I bought that shit. You are right. You are just plain right.
      • I renember reading how wrong it was to lie on your resume. You could get fired and forced to pay back what wages were earned when you were caught.

        You could- but chance are you either won't get hired in the first place or nobody will take another look at your resume after you're hired ever again.

        I can't belive I bought that shit. You are right. You are just plain right.

        I don't like being right about this- Entrepreneurs should be able to start businesses without compromising all of their personal values
        • For what it's worth, lying on a resume or in an interview has never made front page news on any low echelon job in any newspaper I've been reading. I think employers assume resumes and interviews are at least 50% exaggerated.

          Is it wrong? What do you see in newspapers? Lots and lots of advertising along with catchy phrases like "We will not be undersold!" "Greatest bargains" "Lowest prices" "Most features".

          If you make up things like fancy degrees or titles at major companies, expect to be checked out. Howe
  • If you are really that talented you should have no problem doing this [google.com]. This has several advantages over a real internship. For instance, most interns don't hack any kernels or optimize any compilers. With this though you've got some leeway and choice.
  • by ezraekman (650090) on Thursday June 02, 2005 @08:44PM (#12709999) Homepage

    First, I must apologize for the reception you've received to your question thus far. The ONE THING someone your age needs above all else is encouragement, which is something sorely lacking in most of the answers I've read. The fact that you stated your experience isn't bragging; you're trying to make it clear what direction you want to go in. I'm appalled at some of the things that have been said to someone who is actually going out and doing something with their life. (Jealousy that they did not, perhaps?) However... the silver lining is that such a response *will* help prepare you for the real world, which is unfortunately much like this at times. Don't let it discourage you; keep going anyway, and with just a little luck, you WILL succeed. Taking moronic insults and banter like this personally is pointless and a waste of time. File it away in the "This person is unreasonable and will waste my time" folder, and keep moving.

    I can tell you from direct experience that there are MANY opportunities available to someone your age. I'm not familiar with the state of things in Texas, but everywhere I've tried (California, Florida, New York), there are always many people out there who see something of value in a kid with drive, and technical interest/ability. What I'm about to tell you about will work for getting you either a job or an internship (I've gotten many of both this way), though it may take a little tweaking based on your area and specific use. What it really boils down to is drive and determination, but some good planning beforehand can greatly reduce the amount of wasted time.

    First, make a list of all of the different types of things you can think of that you might want to do, later in life. Obviously, you're going to want to make sure your internship matches your potential career(s), so this first step is important.

    Next, come up with a list of ANY company in your area you can think of that might offer jobs in this same field. The fact that you're currently focussing on getting an internship instead of a job is irrelevant right now; a good internship requires the job that will support it to exist.

    Now pull out a pencil, your computer, or whatever your favorite writing tool is and write yourself a script. Short, to the point, but cheerful and polite are the rules, here. "Hi, my name is Bob Smith, and I'm interested in interning/working for your company. May I speak with your hiring manager/HR department to discuss this?" Etc. Try it out on your parents, teachers, etc. Ask them to find ways to answer "No" and hang up on you, then eliminate those questions from your script. Remember that your script is just your plan, and that it will need to be flexible. You know, strategy vs. tactics. Testing it out on people will help show you which parts will likely progress normally, and which can go in any direction. Try to avoid questions that *can* be answered with a "No": "Hi, my name is Bob Smith, and I'm very interesting in interning in your department. I'd love to come in and chat with you about the possibility. I'm free this Thursday and Friday, anytime after 3:30 pm. When is best for you?" See? No way to say "No" without changing the conversation around.

    Once you've got something that will allow you to get what you want without being too forceful, start calling up the companies on your list. It's fine to read from the script, though by now you'll probably have it memorized more than you'd ever want to anyway. Call, call, and call some more. If you get a nibble, don't go nuts and scare them off, but definitely show interest and drive. Remember, in their eyes, you're just an irresponsible kid. There's plenty of reasons NOT to hire you or take you on as an intern, so show them why they should. Don't be pushy, but show that you're not a flake, and that you have what it takes. If you get something good, congratulations! If not, don't give up. This WILL require many calls just to get the hang of it, and many more to be successful. Call the least

    • That was a good thing you did dude. The poor kid was getting beat up by all the stupid jealous posts.
    • That was a nice gesture dude. The poor kid must have been disheartened by all the dumb posts out here. There should be more like you on /.
    • (Jealousy that they did not, perhaps?) However... the silver lining is that such a response *will* help prepare you for the real world, which is unfortunately much like this at times. Don't let it discourage you; keep going anyway, and with just a little luck, you WILL succeed. Taking moronic insults and banter like this personally is pointless and a waste of time. File it away in the "This person is unreasonable and will waste my time" folder, and keep moving.

      More than likely you'll file them under "

    • It's refreshing to see such a positive attitude on slashdot. Thank you for posting :)
  • by auferstehung (150494) <tod@und@auferstehung bei gmail@com> on Thursday June 02, 2005 @08:51PM (#12710036)

    If making money is not a necessity. Approach what you consider the "ideal" successful business (the one that would look good on your resume) in your area and offer to work for free if necessary. You might be suprised that after a while they might offer you employment, especially if you treat it like a real job despite the lack of pay. As in no showing up just when you feel like it or generally making a goof of yourself.

    Regardless of the outcome, you will get to "hang around" and pick up valuable real world business knowledge. From the businesses perspective, it is a relatively low risk option to see if you are worth their time.

    • I'm glad you saw the light. I agree flipping burgers is a waste of your time. The life lessons learned through hard work and interacting with others can be learned anywhere real work is being done. Might as well do the kind of work you want to be doing, or at least heading in that direction.

      You can indeed get a foot in the door of some really big stuff by working for free (or cheap). The experience and mentoring you'll get is even more valuable.

      In fact this is how the rich kids manage to get so much f
      • I'm glad you saw the light. I agree flipping burgers is a waste of your time. The life lessons learned through hard work and interacting with others can be learned anywhere real work is being done. Might as well do the kind of work you want to be doing, or at least heading in that direction.

        I thought the same thing myself while I was working exclusively in IT surrounded by geeks. Then I took a part-time customer service job to help pay the bills (and finance my education) and I discovered something th

  • options (Score:2, Interesting)

    by bersl2 (689221)
    Some schools have a co-op program where you take classes one semester and work the next.

    But, if you believe higher education really isn't in your best interest: I would say to get a day job as the others say (not too much, unless you have the kind of parents who will make you support yourself...), and to develop in some of your free time. If you are as skilled as you say you are, surely there is something that you can work on, some underdeveloped FOSS project somewhere that you can be of use on, or if you
  • I'm a high school student myself and I was faced with this same problem. However, I have decided that having money is better than no money at all, even if I'm doing something I hate--working at a Rite Aid for barely above minimum wage. However, I soon will have a great job at an IT company this summer if everything goes through. hahaha.
  • Go to the nearest university. Talk to people in the comp sci, engineering, and science depts. Work in a graduate student lab during the summer. They are usually willing to use cheap, talented labor. If your grades show you to be as smart as you think you are, somebody will hire you.

    I worked in a physics lab one summer and a chem.E lab the next. I got to play with computers, did useful work, and was offered a bunch of scholarships.

  • If you aren't desperate for a great paying job then volunteer (if you have to) somewhere. I am assuming you will be living with your parents which will give you some financial flexibility.

    If there is a small College nearby, perhaps you can do some work for their computer services department. If not, there are other options such as consulting with local small businesses.

    If you go in with the attitude that "I am smarter than most college students or graduates..." then most companies would be glad to sho
  • Get a crappy job (something hands-on with physical labor involved would be best - geeks don't get enough exercise, and it will do wonders for your sleep schedule and overall mental health). Whatever this big project is that you're envisioning founding a small company around with your two friends - do that on your own time while working at your crappy job.

    Even if you don't succeed, you'll learn a lot. Assuming it's a pure software project and you've got some way of sleeping and eating (see crappy job a

  • My high school had an internship-like program [49errop.com].

  • I had the exact same problem when I was a senior in high school. I wanted to take a year off and intern at a university, but didn't know where to start. I had other friends who had interned over summers, but no one knew how I could get in for a year.

    I live in the Boston area, so I just started calling up universities. I was interested in physics, so I called up MIT, BU, Harvard, Tufts, Northeastern, etc. I made sure to talk with the chair of the department or someone high up. This is very important, o
  • Get a job at McDonald's, like everyone else. However don't treat it like a chore you need to get gas money. Work hard, and advance. They are always looking for management. Come home every weekend in college and to the Friday night, Saturday, and Sunday shifts. (Perhaps something in the middle of the week too, but don't put in too many hours) You need the experience of management, and McDonald's will give it to you.

    While managing a restaurant is different from running your own business, you will l

    • Once you get into the latter years of college you can get an intership, and quit McDonald's

      Or he might find that he likes the restaurant industry. One of my relatives started out at 19 working in fast food. Now at 38, he's a regional manager with a huge fast food franchisee (I was surprised to learn that there are corporations whose only business is buying and running McDonald's etc. franchises!) and operates a number of restaurants. He makes approximately 4x what I do and I'm a fairly well paid softwa

  • Another "I'm too good for just ANY job. I want a job that uses my skills." Usually you get this from a recent college grad. But hell, it's now being used by high school grads. What next? Pre-school grads complaining all they could do during the summer was help Mom water the garden?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    The problem is, I feel it would be a waste of my talents right now to be stuck folding shirts at the local mall or flipping cheeseburgers when I could be helping develop a cutting-edge game, the next-generation compiler, or even the Linux kernel as an intern. I have a higher than most college students' understanding of concepts, and some real programming experience in languages like assembly and C/C++, but that isn't going to amount to anything if I can never find an interviewer who will at least listen to
  • Yeah, if you're convincing, universities will hire you (sometimes). I'm doing an internship at UCSD this summer, and worked at SDSC (sdsc.edu) programming last year. If you're a convincing guy, you'll do fine :) University guys appreciate helpful high school kids.

    - dshaw
  • Back in 1997 a (now) friend of mine started his own ISP at the age of 15. His family was poorer than dirt and his mom (only parent) was more dependent on him than he was on her. Even his brother and sister were down on their luck badly. He was determined and pulled it off. He colocated his equipment with my ISP for a fee and paid for phone lines to my building. Later when his business got bigger we even teamed up, running for many years before selling to a larger ISP/telecommunications company. We retain ve
    • I know a girl at 14 that started a website that within two years was bringing her in between $7000 and $11,000 a month. She had NO experience with programming or HTML, she used a program like Frontpage to do the design. By the time she finished high school she had college paid for, a nice new car, a nice expensive laptop, and money in the bank. Man I was jealous of her.

      This just screams early web porn shop.. lol

      As for advice, volunteer at some local small ISP doing tech support. After a while, they'll

  • Most employers I know of are not interested in people who don't have (or haven't recently had) a job. It doesn't matter so much what the job is, just that you show that you're willing to work and that you aren't unemployable. Holding out for your ideal job just makes you look spoiled and unwilling to work. The few places that aren't like this are the places "you" start working at, flipping burgers and folding shirts, or at your parents' places of work.

    I suggest you go out and get a job. Any job that yo
  • You could just take a job at the local mall or wherever sounds convienent. Consider it your last chance to study business from the ground, and how vital interpersonal skills are. Develop some leadership skills, and make friends with management and they'll make good references later if they're still around.

    Or you can pursue a job in a dissolving technical field. Within this route, there are a couple of options; you can hunt down an internship, you can find a grunt level IT job (Typically helpdesk), or you c
  • http://nj1015.com/personalities/jim_gearhart/bits / real_world.htm [nj1015.com]

    Rule 5
    Flipping burgers is not beneath your dignity. Your grandparents had a different word for burger flipping; they called it opportunity.


    you may think you're so incredibly talented, but trust me, there are a million other high school kids out there who think the same thing.

    most places aren't even interested in college students with less than 60 credits for internships, let alone a high school student. no offense, but they're stereotyp
  • Take the "mediocre" job for a while and learn to enjoy it. Later on, you will appreciate the value of "mediocre" jobs.

    Almost every job at some point requires "mediocre" work tasks. Yes, even in high-paying tech-related jobs, you may find yourself having to do "mediocre" tasks like spending hours helping with monotonous data entry during a company-wide inventory, or crawling under desks pulling cables, or cleaning server room walls and floors that suffered water damage.

    We all want the cushy jobs, and many
  • Look if you want to get skilled working for McDonalds serving sodas or doing Y2K debugging at InnoTech rooting then tjust do the retail route or intern at any tech job for your summer.

    If you have basic skills, put them to work on something you *want* to do, make a summer project (or two), web page, custom program or hardware, it may turn out lame, but it will give you the sort of experience outside of school and work that will make you more interesting to employers (or backers) in your carrer later on.

    Ge

  • Hey, I go to UT in Austin and that is probably the main reason you cant find an internship since there are so many more just as, if not more so qualified applicants graduating out of there or intern/co-op ing from there.

    Anyways I was pretty much hired at Sun Micro this spring except they instituted a hiring freeze company wide. I waas lucky to get a job with a place I interned with in High School in San Antonio. I went to one of the few high schools that have an active internship program. But there were a
  • Speaking as someone who was in that same situation a while ago, I can say this:

    You are not better than anyone else because you can use a computer.

    Work is more about social and interpersonal skills than it is about technical skills. You need to prove that you know how to show up to work on time, dressed and groomed appropriately, do what managers tell you to do, and interact with customers and coworkers.

    You will never get a more advanced *job* without having those things.

    I consider myself pretty good at
  • From the time I was 16, I always had a job working ISP tech support. Yes, it sucks, but at times it can be lots of fun. It should also pay slightly better than McDonald's or any other greasy fast food joint.
  • Best way to refine, show off, and use your talents for a good cause : start or participate actively in an useful open source project and become famous.
  • "The problem is, I feel it would be a waste of my talents right now to be stuck folding shirts at the local mall or flipping cheeseburgers when I could be helping develop a cutting-edge game, the next-generation compiler, or even the Linux kernel as an intern. "
    Ummmm... No..
    You have no real experience, are in High School, and have an attitude problem. You may be as good as you say but your comments show a real lack of a willingness to learn from others.
    I mean look at what you wrote. How much better you are
  • Start your startup now. Why wait? That's exactly what Paul Graham is talking about. You don't have to be qualified and you don't need a degree to start a business. You need an idea and a lot of trial and error. Oh, and the right people (this one is key, and is the hardest part).

    Back in high school I did web design for local businesses instead of flipping burgers. Now I run a small software company [simian.ca] for a living. And truth be told, I'm still one credit shy of graduating high school.
  • Everyone on Slashdot seems to be giving this kid a hard time for trying to get a better job. Many of us had crappy jobs when we were younger and think that it is some rite of passage. None of us liked them but did them because our parents said it was a character-building experience. However, I think that getting one of these jobs is essential for every smart kid to have because they teach you how to deal with people less intelligent than you.

    Most smart people I know have a special knack for insulting

  • This just hit the lists...

    The FreeBSD Project is happy to participate in Google's Summer of Code 2005 program. Basically, this program provides $4500 in funding to allow students to spend the summer writing open source software.....

    http://www.freebsd.org/projects/summerofcode.html [freebsd.org]
  • Most corporate internships can really suck. It takes time and/or connections to get one where you won't be doing the crappiest work, and the glacial pace at which they do their hiring/decision making can be a death blow if you're looking for a short term summer gig.

    If I were in your shoes I would:

    Think of anyone you know that has influence. I know someone who called his company's legal firm and asked for an internship for their hs-aged kid. Any firm that bills tens of thousands of dollars annually would d
  • We have a few back burner projects that could be a summer project for a talented programmer. Send an email to slashjob@ticom.com

It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster. - Voltaire

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