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  • Writer's pictureEstelle Reardon

10 Computer Science Internships for High School Students in Chicago

Why do internships in high school?


Before we jump into a long list of computer science internships for high school students in Chicago, it is important to understand why these opportunities could matter for your future. According to PRISM, a consultancy, 70% of students attending a US News top 50 University have completed at least one internship while in high school. These opportunities serve as a way to distinguish yourself in the admissions process by showing that you have gone out and verified your future goals through experience. Doing internships will help you enter college with a clearer idea of the professional environments you enjoy or don’t enjoy, which will make it easier for you to recruit into a job you love after graduation. Students who have done at least one internship in high school also typically have an easier time recruiting into college internships and pre-professional organizations such as finance or pre-law clubs.


How to Find Computer Science Internships for High School Students in Chicago


The best way to find computer science internships for high school students in Chicago is through online search tools and lists. The StandOutSearch database provides the largest free resource that lists almost every internship program for the high school age group and allows you to search by interest area. MIT Admissions also provides a helpful list of High School Internships


However, official programs tend to be very competitive, so if you are serious about finding a summer internship in high school, you should also prepare a cold outreach strategy. You can read more about how to form a cold outreach strategy to find a high school internship at the end of this article. We also include email templates to make finding an internship or research position through cold outreach less daunting.


10 Computer Science Internships for High School Students in Chicago


Most of the computer science internships for high school students in Chicago below have an acceptance rate of 20% or lower, given that there are many more high school students looking for internships relative to official programs that provide them. We recommend choosing at least five opportunities to apply to. If you see an opportunity that excites you, take a moment to write the deadline on your calendar!



  • Ages: 15-19

  • Location: Virtual 

  • Timeline: Summer, Spring, Fall, or Winter

  • Deadline: Various Deadlines


StandOut Connect is a program created thanks to investment from UChicago’s Polsky Center for Innovation that matches high school students with internships in their interest area. Students interview with potential mentors who are leaders and innovators within their area of interest until they are hired for a two-month internship. Many students then receive optional return offers to continue with their internship for as long as they would like.



  • Ages: Sophomore - Junior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: Summer

  • Deadline: Winter


 A six-week summer internship for high school sophomores and juniors in Illinois who have a strong interest and demonstrated aptitude for physics, mathematics, computer science, and engineering. The program is designed to encourage high school students to undertake college study and pursue careers in STEM disciplines. The program combines work and experiential learning at Fermilab, working alongside scientists and engineers.. The program is highly competitive and annually hosts approximately 15-25 interns. 



  • Ages: Freshman - Senior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: Multi- year

  • Deadline: February


The Space Explorers Program is a free multi-year science enrichment program that gives participants the opportunity to interact with University faculty, staff, students, and labs; engage with college-level math, science, and computer science course work; take part in industry and lab tours; meet and work with astronomers and

physicists; and develop skills for high school, college, and beyond.



  • Ages: Freshman - Senior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: Summer

  • Deadline: Contact for deadline


This program is an immersive 8-week paid summer research program at the University of Chicago. In the program, undergraduate students and Chicago-area high school students are paired with a data science mentor in various domains, including: computer science, data science, social science, climate and energy policy, public policy, materials science, and biomedical research. 



  • Ages: Sophomore - Senior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: Summer

  • Deadline: January


QuarkNet offers summer research opportunities in science and technology for students who have demonstrated a strong interest in and aptitude for science and mathematics. Students work with scientists for seven weeks on projects related to the Fermilab research program. 



  • Ages: Rising Sophomore - Senior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: Summer

  • Deadline: March


Interns will work in the Adler’s Space Visualization Lab (SVL), a working laboratory where scientists, technology experts, artists, and educators work together to create new ways for people to virtually explore the Universe. Interns will receive mentorship from Adler staff to learn how to use visualization software OpenSpace and use that training to create experiences exploring NASA missions and datasets.  This position requires and helps you develop an interest in UX design and research, and strong communication and analytics skills. Interns will build their understanding of space science and familiarity with NASA missions, learn how to work with sophisticated data sets, and communicate complicated concepts to a general audience. 



  • Ages: Rising Sophomore - Senior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: Summer

  • Deadline: Contact for deadline


This program will integrate math and science, with computation as a unifying concept in order to understand computational thinking - a key skill in computer science and other fields. Using real-world tools, such as Mathematica, participants will learn how to abstract problems and ideas and find ways to formulate it for a computer. The course consists of hands-on activities and minimal lecturing. 

 


  • Ages: Rising Freshman - Senior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: Summer

  • Deadline: Contact for deadline


Students will learn how to use an app development tool to create a real life application. In addition, students will learn the process for software development, such as design and testing. Students will learn how to create effective and meaningful user interfaces that will make their apps user friendly. Students will also learn how to collaborate, design, and develop algorithms.



  • Ages: Rising Freshman - Senior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: Summer

  • Deadline: Contact for Deadline


Participants will learn the basics of game development from the ground up. Participants will develop games for various coding and scripting languages and frameworks. Participants will also learn about the logic of game development including graphics, sound, and player interactions while adhering to a desired game objective and theme. 



  • Ages: Freshman - Senior

  • Location: Chicago

  • Timeline: School-year

  • Deadline: September


A hybrid program for high school students who are interested in the field of computer science. Participants will be able to learn Python, Web-App Development (JavaScript and HTML), Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, and Hardware and Circuit Building. 


Cold Outreach Strategy for High School Internships 


If the opportunities listed above don’t turn out to be a fit, the next step to finding computer science internships for high school students in Chicago is to launch a cold outreach strategy. This may seem intimidating at first, but the guide below should make it much more simple. As an added note, please exercise caution when reaching out to professionals you don’t know. It is always safest to interview or meet virtually. 


How to Find Companies to Reach Out to for a High School Internship 


Use LinkedIn to find small companies where you can help with skills such as social media, coding, content/grant writing, or graphic design. Smaller companies that need more hands on deck will be the most likely to hire high-school-aged students. Try to find personal connections with the professionals you reach out to, such as being from the same state originally or liking the same sports team. 


How to Find Professors to Reach Out to for a High School Research Position 


You can use online university staff directories to find professors to reach out to for research positions. Note that if you are looking for a remote research position with a professor, you should be aware that these opportunities tend to be harder to come by. Professors typically have high school students help with more manual laboratory tasks such as washing beakers or running equipment and usually do not have very much use for interns at a high school education level within a remote setting. The exception is if you are doing computational research, which generally requires introductory knowledge of Python or R to parse large datasets. You should be able to learn Python or R on your own for free within a few months using resources such as Coursera’s R Programming Course or Python for Everybody.


How to Structure and Send Outreach Emails 


For a successful cold-outreach strategy, aim to send at least 50 emails to potential internship providers. Be sure to include a link to your resume, which should be no more than one page while you are in high school. UChicago provides a helpful free resume template and guide. We recommend including your resume as a Google Drive link because including it as a PDF will sometimes negatively impact the deliverability of your email. However, be sure to check that the sharing settings on the document allow anyone with the link to view its contents. It can also be a good idea to include work samples in your resume, such as the link to a website you designed, a social media account you manage, or your GitHub profile. 


Email Template for Finding a High School Internship 


If you are unsure how to structure your outreach emails to potential internship providers, here are some basic templates you can customize to your needs. 


Template for Finding an Internship


Subject: Student Reaching Out


Dear Mr./Ms.____,


I hope you are having a great day! My name is [your name], and I am a rising [grade] at [your school]. I read about your company on LinkedIn and found the concept quite interesting. For context, [briefly state how the company relates to your interests or experience]. 

I was wondering if you might be looking for interns. I know I would have a great deal to learn from working with you, and I would love to contribute in any way I can. I have included my resume here. Thanks so much!


Sincerely, 


[Your name]


Template for Finding a Research Position


Subject: Student Reaching Out


Dear Professor/Dr. ____,


I hope you are having a great day! My name is [your name], and I am a rising [grade] at [your school]. I recently read your paper on [restate the abstract] in [name of publication] and was quite intrigued by [part you found interesting]. I was wondering if I might be able to intern for you over this summer. [Elaborate on your relevant skills and experience and why you are passionate about the field]. 

I have included my resume here. Thanks so much! 


Sincerely,


[Your name]



Computer Science Internships for High School Students in Chicago
Computer Science Internships for High School Students in Chicago


Conclusion


Whether you are applying to established programs or launching a cold outreach strategy, the name of the game when looking for computer science internships for high school students in Chicago is perseverance. These opportunities can be extremely difficult to secure, but most high school students find it worth it in the end to get a head start on building their careers. If you found this article helpful, don’t forget to save it for later or share it with a friend. Good luck on your internship search journey!

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