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Summer internships: Gaining a competitive edge

Summer internships: Gaining a competitive edge

For many students, summer vacation is all about spending time in the sun, hanging out with friends and family, or traveling to new countries. And for others, it’s a time to focus on their future. At EF Academy, students are encouraged to take on internship roles during the breaks between terms, and the summer holiday is the ideal time to engage in a 4-week work experience opportunity.

While an internship means sacrificing precious days of relaxation, the benefits are long-term and have a positive impact on job prospects in the future. Additionally, getting real-life work experience as you collaborate with professionals allows you to develop a network and try out a field to see if it’s something you would like to pursue at university.


  •  personal and professional development
  • prepare for working in the real world
  • demonstrate your proactivity to college admissions officers and show them that you are dedicated to creating a bright future for yourself
  • build your network and get a great reference letter
  • gain new experiences: work with professionals, live in a new city or country, put what you learned in school to use and take your new knowledge with you when you go back
  • refine your career goals

High school students are often selected for short-term internships because companies value the fresh ideas they bring to the table, especially if teenagers are an important part of the company’s audience. Organizations also value young interns’ curiosity and their eagerness – they appreciate that these interns ask themselves, “How can I benefit the company?” rather than, “What can this company do for me?”

“The marketing team welcomes an intern for a few weeks every summer. It’s a great opportunity for us to get a real user’s perspective,” Aline Gachelin, EF Academy’s Global Head of Marketing said. “Our interns have always shown enthusiasm, curiosity and perceptiveness. They enjoy seeing the behind-the-scenes activities of the business just as much as we enjoy being challenged by their view on marketing.”

This summer, a number of our students applied and were selected for internships at EF Academy admissions offices, and one student even worked with EF Academy’s marketing team in Lucerne, Switzerland.

Germany’s Jana Michalke, an IB student at EF Academy Oxford, spent four weeks in EF Academy’s headquarters where she had her own apartment and worked closely with the team’s digital marketing manager, alumni and ambassador manager, copywriter and the Global Head of Marketing. For her, the internship was a true learning experience.

“Working in marketing was different than I thought it would be,” she said. “The internship gave me a glimpse of the career world and gave me real-life work experience that allowed me to see what is waiting for me after I leave the academic settings of high school and university.”

Eric Park is from South Korea and is enrolled in the IB program at EF Academy New York. He spent two weeks in Hong Kong where he worked with EF’s video team, which was very valuable for him as he would like to pursue a career in film.

In his testimonial, he wrote, “The internship program helped me become more prepared for a future as a filmmaker and an open-minded coworker.”

“Personally, the experience helped me understand how professional videography works and allowed me to feel more prepared as a future cinematography student,” he added.

Learning how to make the most of situations and create your own opportunities is also an important part of an internship, as Xinrong Chen learned during her internship in China.

“As an intern, it is crucial to have the humility to accept criticism and the willingness to learn, to seek opportunities and to prove your worth. During this time, I learned that the most important value and experience gained out of the internship is not what kind of work the employer gives you; instead, it is the attitude and effort you put into the internship,” she wrote.

Working as a high school intern isn’t only about learning new things. Students also build on the skills they have already begun developing at school – teamwork, for example. In school, teamwork is key to successful group projects and studying for exams.

“What I witnessed is that punctuality and organization are really important, especially when you’re working on a global scale,” Jana said. “You have to network and work as a team, which is important to success.”

During her internship, Jana saw how teamwork was used in a professional setting – coworkers collaborating to achieve a common goal that benefits the company, without any grading system.

Today’s students live during a time when the university and job application processes are very competitive, and having an experience such as a high school internship gives those students an edge. Through an internship, they have gathered “marketable experience” that will help them shine, or at the very least, help them determine what they like and what they don’t so that they can start making their way down the path that is right for them.