16 Internships for High School Students in San Diego

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

intership for students

16 Internships for High School Students in San Diego

Exploring internships for high school students in San Diego allows one to decide on future career paths before entering higher education.

This article guides you through 16 varied internship opportunities across San Diego, tailored for high school students eager to jumpstart their professional journeys. There’s a place for every interest, from STEM to arts and social sciences.

16 Internships for High School Students in San Diego

In San Diego, high school students have excellent opportunities to gain firsthand experience in science and research through internships. These programs offer practical insights into the scientific world, preparing the next generation of researchers and innovators.

Below are 16 standout internships for high school students in San Diego, designed to ignite a passion for science and provide a glimpse into professional research environments.

Multiracial university students

1. Scripps Student Research Internship Program

  • Location: Scripps Research Translational Institute (SRTI)
  • Program Dates: June 3 – August 9, 2024, or June 17 – August 23, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 30, 2024
  • Eligibility: Highly motivated students in high school, college, or professional training (medical/law/graduate/business school) with a strong interest in genomics or mHealth translational research. High school students must be at least 16 years of age before the start of their internship.

The Scripps Research Translational Institute’s Student Research Internship Program offers a unique educational experience aimed at students interested in health sciences from high school to professional levels. This 10-week summer program focuses on the latest research in personalized healthcare, using genomics and mobile health technologies to enhance medical treatments. Interns learn about the design, analysis, and implementation of research projects, including clinical trials focused on genomics and disease monitoring.

Interns are paired with mentors who guide the program, ensuring a personalized learning journey. They engage in seminars, develop and present an independent research project, and participate in a poster symposium to showcase their findings. This program not only equips students with valuable research skills and knowledge in translational science but also encourages networking within the research community at the institute. Through hands-on experience and mentorship, interns are prepared to contribute meaningfully to personalized medicine.

2. Heithoff-Brody High School Scholars Program

  • Location: Salk Institute, San Diego County
  • Program Dates: June 17th – August 9th, 2024
  • Application Deadline: April 5th, 2024
  • Eligibility: San Diego County residents who have completed their most recent semester of high school at a public or private school within the county, are at least 16 years old by June 17, 2024, can commit to 30-40 hours per week from June 17 through August 9, have completed at least one year of high school chemistry and biology, have a minimum GPA of 2.75, can provide their transportation, and if under 18, can obtain a work permit.

The Heithoff-Brody High School Summer Scholars program, one of the internships for high school students in San Diego, offers high school students a unique chance to explore scientific research at the Salk Institute. Over eight weeks, students work closely with scientists, learning through hands-on research projects. They’ll pick up important skills in STEM, like lab techniques and data analysis, and get a peek into the latest research.

The program also focuses on improving students’ abilities to communicate their science, culminating in a final presentation of their work. This experience prepares them for potential STEM careers and fulfills the vision of introducing young people to the lab environment and the excitement of scientific discovery.

3. JCVI Summer Internship Program

  • Location: United States
  • Program Dates: May through August
  • Application Deadline: Rolling admissions (applications considered as received once posted)
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be eligible to work in the United States without JCVI sponsorship, at least 16 years old at the start of the internship, reside in the United States, have a 3.0/B average with proof of full-time enrollment in school or proof of employment for educators for the upcoming school year, have a strong interest in a science career or be majoring in science, and submit a 500-word statement of interest.

The JCVI Summer Internship Program is a notable initiative that provides educators and students from high school to graduate levels with a deep dive into groundbreaking scientific research. Available mainly in summer, with some exceptions during the year, it offers a structured research experience under the guidance of top scientists. Interns work on projects that match their academic level, use the latest equipment, and end with a poster presentation.

The program includes scientific and professional skill development workshops, like journal clubs and career sessions, enriching the intern’s knowledge and career prospects. Through this program, participants gain firsthand research experience and mentorship from leading scientists and enhance their scientific and soft skills, making it an invaluable step toward their professional, scientific goals.

4. Bank of America Student Leaders

  • Location: Various
  • Program Dates: July 22-27, 2024
  • Application Deadline: January 17, 2024
  • Eligibility: To be eligible for the Student Leaders program, you must currently be a junior or senior in high school, legally authorized to work in the United States without sponsorship through the end of September 2024, able to participate in an 8-week paid internship at a local nonprofit/charitable organization and work 35 hours a week, able to participate in a week-long Student Leaders Summit in Washington, DC from July 22-27, 2024 with all expenses paid as part of the program

As one of the top internships for high school students in San Diego, the Bank of America Student Leaders® program offers high school juniors and seniors a chance to learn about leadership and community service through a paid internship at local nonprofits. Students work 35 hours a week for eight weeks, getting firsthand experience in how these organizations help communities.

They also attend a special summit in Washington, D.C., where they learn about the cooperation between government, businesses, and nonprofits in solving community problems. This program helps students understand the value of civic engagement and prepares them for future leadership roles by teaching them the importance of working together to create positive change.

students looking out into the university

5. Fleet Science Center Volunteer

  • Location: Fleet Science Center
  • Program Dates: TBA
  • Eligibility: Volunteers must be 16 years of age or older, able to commit to a minimum of three months, friendly, outgoing, enjoy working with people, willing to work two shifts per month for a minimum of 3 months, enthusiastic about the Fleet Science Center

The Fleet Science Center’s volunteer program offers a hands-on way to study science and education. Volunteers can take on various roles, helping make science engaging and accessible to visitors. The flexible program allows volunteers to find their niche, whether working directly with visitors, supporting educational activities, or helping at events.

In addition to gaining valuable experience and skills, volunteers enjoy perks like early access to exhibits, event invites, and discounts at the center. This opportunity is ideal for those eager to learn, share knowledge, and contribute to a community that values science and education. Volunteers enhance their understanding of science through involvement and play a key role in sparking curiosity and knowledge in others.

6. San Diego County Sheriff’s Department Student Worker

  • Location: County of San Diego, CA
  • Program Dates: Applications will be accepted continuously.
  • Application Deadline: The County of San Diego has the right to discontinue accepting applications at any time without notice.
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be full-time students at a local high school, vocational program, job readiness program, or an accredited college or university with at least a 2.0 semester/quarter grade point average. High school students or vocational/job readiness students must be full-time high school students or enrolled more than 20 hours per week in an Adult School to obtain a GED, and those under 18 must obtain a work permit.

The Student Worker program by the County of San Diego is a valuable opportunity for students to gain work experience related to their studies. Designed for high school, vocational, job readiness, undergraduate, and postgraduate students, this program pairs academic theory with practical work, enhancing employability skills. Students will work in various county departments, gaining firsthand exposure to professional environments and contributing to meaningful projects.

This hands-on experience is crucial for understanding real-world applications of their academic knowledge, offering a unique blend of learning and working. The program pays students an hourly wage of $15.50 – $19.79 and provides sick leave benefits for those eligible. Through this program, students earn and build a solid foundation for their future careers by developing professional skills and networking within their field of interest.

7. La Jolla Playhouse Internships

  • Location: University of California, San Diego
  • Program Dates: June 11- Aug 9, 2024
  • Application Deadline: March 15, 2024
  • Eligibility: Open to all developing artists and professionals who have already graduated from high school before the time of applying

The La Jolla Playhouse’s Summer 2024 Internship Program, one of the best internships for high school students in San Diego, is a dynamic opportunity for those eager to explore the theater world. The program is open for various roles, including artistic, management, engagement, marketing, philanthropy, and more. Designed for college students and those shifting towards arts careers, it offers a chance to learn directly from the playhouse’s team, enhancing skills and understanding the theater’s operations.

Interns will benefit from real-world experience, developing professional relationships, and exploring career options in theater. They’ll participate actively in projects and events, gaining insights into creative processes and administrative functions. The playhouse emphasizes creativity, teamwork, and personal growth, ensuring interns contribute to its mission and prepare for successful arts careers. This hands-on program is an excellent step for anyone passionate about the arts and looking to make an impact in theater.

8. DPR Build Up High School Internship

  • Location: Various
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Application Deadline: April 12, 2024
  • Eligibility: Must be rising high school juniors, seniors, or May 2024 grads with a family income below HUD Median Family Income in your county, legally entitled to work in the United States, and demonstrate an interest in the built environment. They must also commit to the 8-week duration of the internship, commute to the job site daily, and work 35-40 hours a week on an active job site.

The DPR’s Build Up High School Internship provides a practical introduction to construction management for high school students during an 8-week summer program. It places interns alongside project teams on major commercial construction projects, where they learn about project management, innovative planning, scheduling, design technologies, and the variety of professional roles required in construction.

This program pushes students to learn beyond their comfort zones, offering a chance to acquire hands-on skills and insights from industry professionals. Participants will understand software, document management, effective communication, and on-site coordination, gaining valuable experiences that will aid their future careers in construction.

The internship is open to high school juniors, seniors, or recent graduates who meet specific eligibility criteria, including income levels and legal work status in the U.S. It offers competitive pay and transportation stipends and is located across the country, accessible by public transportation. The program aims to provide real work experience, a final project, skills in presenting, and the confidence to interact professionally.

students on a campus

9. Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP)

  • Location: Department of Navy (DoN) laboratories around the country
  • Program Dates: TBA
  • Application Deadline: August 1, 2024
  • Eligibility: High school students who have completed at least Grade 9 must be currently enrolled in high school but maybe taking college-level classes for college credit; graduating seniors are eligible to apply, must be 16 years of age or older by the internship start date to participate, and solely U.S. citizens. Exceptions include grade minimum, age minimum, and permanent residents and dual citizens, with students advised to check individual lab pages for eligibility.

The Science and Engineering Apprenticeship Program (SEAP) is a summer opportunity that connects high school students with an interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) to real-world naval research projects. This eight-week program, open to sophomores, juniors, and seniors, immerses them in hands-on activities under the guidance of top scientists and engineers at Department of Navy (DoN) laboratories across the country. It’s a selective program, choosing about 300 students for internships based on their school performance, interests, and recommendations.

SEAP aims to inspire these students toward careers in the DoN by exposing them to cutting-edge research and technology alongside professional mentoring. Students gain invaluable research experience and receive a stipend for their participation, increasing if they return for another year. This initiative broadens their academic and career horizons and strives to diversify the STEM field by encouraging participation from underrepresented groups.

10. Ladder Internships

  • Location: Various
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Application Deadline: Summer cohort (Priority Admission): March 17, 2024; Summer cohort (Regular Admission 1): April 14, 2024; Summer cohort (Regular Admission 2): May 12, 2024
  • Eligibility: Self-motivated students with great communication skills and a growth mindset are eligible.

As one of the top internships for high school students in San Diego, the Ladder Internship Program offers an exceptional chance for students to gain hands-on experience in startups and research over eight weeks for the startup track and 12 to 16 weeks for research. In the Startup Internship, students work 5-10 hours a week, collaborating closely with a host company to develop and complete projects.

The Research Internship broadens the experience with detailed mentorship, involving extensive interaction with writing coaches, research mentors, and publication specialists, dedicating 10-15 hours weekly to research endeavors. This direct project involvement enhances practical skills and provides significant work experience and a completion certificate from the host company. Participants will leave the program with practical project experience and insights into the startup and research sectors bolstered by personalized mentorship.

Ladder’s program is tailored for motivated individuals with strong communication skills, offering financial aid to ensure wide access. The initiative underscores Ladder’s dedication to fostering a learning environment that prepares students for professional success. With the upcoming Summer cohort, the program invites students ready to embrace this challenge for a comprehensive learning and working experience.

11. Student Worker/Internship Program

  • Location: County of San Diego
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be full-time students at a local high school, vocational program, job readiness program, or an accredited college or university and must continue to be full-time students and maintain at least a 2.0 semester/quarter grade point average (GPA). In addition, interns must comply with the established policies and practices of their assigned school’s internship program and the County of San Diego agreement regarding eligibility requirements.

The County of San Diego’s Student Worker/Internship Program aims to introduce high school students completing their education to potential careers within the county government. This initiative encourages students to apply for jobs related to their studies, providing practical experience in a professional environment. To qualify, students must be enrolled full-time in an educational program and maintain a certain GPA. They’re offered temporary, hourly-paid positions without benefits, with pay rates varying by educational level.

Participants work limited hours during the academic year, with opportunities for full-time work during breaks, allowing them to manage their studies and job experience. This program allows students to explore public service careers and gain hands-on experience in various county departments. It offers various job possibilities, from administrative support to specialized professional roles, contributing to their personal growth and the community’s well-being.

12. Congressman Scott Peters Internship

  • Location: Washington, D.C. and San Diego
  • Program Dates: Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Application Deadline: Spring internships: December 13; Summer internships: April 1; Fall internships: August 20
  • Eligibility: Internships in Washington, D.C., are open to college and graduate students. Internships in the San Diego District Office are open to college students, graduate students, and seniors in high school.

The internship program in Rep. Scott Peters’ office offers paid positions in Washington, D.C., and San Diego for college and graduate students and high school seniors in San Diego. The program is flexible, designed to fit student schedules, and available throughout the year with specific deadlines for each season.

Interns in Washington will perform legislative research, memo drafting, and administrative tasks, gaining insight into the legislative process and congressional operations. Communications interns, who may work in either location, produce social media content, press releases, and event planning, necessitating strong writing and digital media skills.

San Diego interns also handle office duties, constituent services, and local projects, offering community engagement opportunities. The compensation varies by location, with D.C. summer interns receiving a lump sum for three months of full-time work and San Diego interns paid hourly for part-time work over ten weeks. This program provides practical experience, enhances professional skills, and offers a glimpse into a career in public service.

13. Pacific Arts Movement Reel Voices

  • Location: San Diego, CA 92126
  • Program Dates: June 18 to Aug 10
  • Application Deadline: April 7
  • Eligibility: Any local high school student who meets the grade level requirements and is interested in producing a documentary film. No experience is necessary. No absences are allowed during the program.

Since its inception in 2005 by the Pacific Arts Movement, Reel Voices has empowered high school students in San Diego to master documentary filmmaking during an 8-week internship program. Students learn to craft documentaries on topics they’re passionate about, such as self-love, mental health, and social issues, enabling them to share personal and relevant stories.

This hands-on experience covers all production stages, from writing to editing, and concludes with their films showcased at the San Diego Asian Film Festival. Participants are celebrated and receive a $500 scholarship, and their documentaries are shared online and at festivals worldwide, often aiding in securing further educational opportunities. A distinctive feature of Reel Voices is the mentorship each student receives from experienced filmmakers.

This mentorship, conducted through Skype, Google Hangout, email, and sometimes in person, provides students unique insights and builds their confidence. Through Reel Voices, students develop technical filmmaking skills and gain access to a network of industry professionals, fostering personal growth and preparing them for future success in filmmaking and beyond.

14. Birch Aquarium Volunteer

  • Location: Birch Aquarium
  • Program Dates: Unspecified
  • Eligibility: Volunteers are asked to make a minimum six-month commitment of one 4-hour weekly shift. Volunteers must be fully vaccinated and boosted. Volunteers seeking to help as Aquarist Assistants must begin in other areas listed first. Volunteers must clear a background check to participate in the School Programs Assistant role.

The Birch Aquarium volunteer program connects individuals with the ocean, encouraging them to learn and teach others about marine life and conservation. Volunteers enhance visitors’ experiences by guiding them through exhibits, answering questions, leading animal encounters, and highlighting the Scripps Institution of Oceanography research. This program draws over 400 volunteers annually, from students to retired professionals, who commit to six months, offering one 4-hour shift weekly.

These efforts support the aquarium’s educational and conservation goals. Volunteers engage in various activities, such as explaining tide pool ecosystems, welcoming visitors, maintaining aquarium exhibits, and helping with educational programs. These roles are designed to suit different interests and provide practical experience in marine science and public interaction.

15. The San Diego Museum of Art Teen Council

  • Location: San Diego Museum of Art
  • Program Dates: October 2023 – end of May 2024
  • Application Deadline: October 1, 2023
  • Eligibility: High school students who can attend monthly meetings via Zoom with in-person opportunities in Spring 2024, limited to 30 participants.

The San Diego Museum of Art enriches the teen experience with free entry for those 17 and under and various programs that foster a deeper connection with art. Through daily guided tours, young visitors can learn about art and contemporary themes directly from expert docents. The museum also offers online resources, including SDMA Art Tutorials and SDMA at Play, providing instructional videos and activities that encourage creativity at home inspired by the museum’s collection.

The Teen Council also actively invites high school students to shape museum programs. This collaborative effort allows teens to work with museum staff and peers, offering a platform to voice their ideas and help organize art-related activities. The Teen Council uses art to foster empathy, connect creatively to artworks, and develop interactive projects that resonate with visitors.

a woman creating her artwork

16. San Diego History Center Internships

  • Location: San Diego
  • Program Dates: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • Application Deadline: Winter/Spring: January 15; Summer: April 30; Fall: September 8
  • Eligibility: Applicants must be enrolled in a degree-seeking program at an accredited institution, at least 15 years old for general internships, and at least 18 years old for most potential internship opportunities. The San Diego History Center encourages diversity and welcomes applicants from all backgrounds.

The San Diego History Center’s Internship Program offers hands-on experience in one of San Diego’s top museums, open to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students. The program runs during fall, winter/spring, and summer, providing unpaid internships across various departments such as Education, Collections,

Exhibitions, Marketing, and Development. This immersive experience goes beyond typical duties. Interns receive mentorship, join sessions from different departments, attend public programs, and have the chance to meet one-on-one with staff to explore museum careers further. The competitive selection process focuses on academic performance, experience, skills, and availability. Applicants must be at least 15 years old, currently enrolled in a degree program, and may need to provide documentation.

The History Center encourages diverse applicants. The application requires a resume, a cover letter detailing the applicant’s interest in the internship, skills, expected gains, availability, and an online form. Not all applicants are guaranteed a position, but all applications are considered carefully to match candidates to suitable projects.

How to Apply for the Internships for High School Students in San Diego

Starting the application journey requires a series of steps, each crucial to enhancing your chances of success. This guide breaks down the process into manageable parts, ensuring students are well-prepared and informed throughout their application journey.

1. Start with Research

The first step is identifying which internships best match your interests and career goals. San Diego offers various opportunities across various fields, making it important to focus on those that align with your aspirations.

Utilize online resources, school career centers, and professional networks to compile a list of potential internships. Look for specific roles that excite you and organizations whose missions resonate with your values.

2. Prepare Your Application

Once you have shortlisted your options, the next step is to prepare your application materials. This typically includes a resume highlighting your academic achievements, extracurricular activities, and relevant work experience.

You may also need to write essays or personal statements reflecting your interest in the internship and what you hope to gain from the experience. A portfolio showcasing your work can be a powerful addition to creative fields.

Tailoring each application to the specific internship is crucial—highlighting skills and experiences that align with their desires.

3. Pay Attention to Deadlines

Adhering to deadlines is one of the most critical aspects of the application process. Missing a deadline can mean missing out on an opportunity, so keeping track of each internship’s application timeline is important.

Create a calendar or schedule to manage deadlines effectively, ensuring that you give yourself enough time to prepare and submit each application.

4. Follow Up

After submitting your application, consider sending a follow-up email to express your continued interest in the position. This email should be concise and professional, reiterating your enthusiasm for the role and thanking the organization for considering your application.

A thoughtful follow-up can distinguish you from other candidates and demonstrate your proactive and professional demeanor.


Internships offer invaluable real-world experience and insights into various professions, making them essential for high school students in San Diego considering their future careers.

By choosing an internship that aligns with your interests and taking full advantage of its learning opportunities, you can set a solid foundation for your professional journey.

Remember, the key to a successful internship is not just participation but engagement, curiosity, and a willingness to learn and grow.


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