19 Summer Internships for New York City Teens

High School Internships in NYC at Prospect Park Zoo, New York Aquarium, American Museum of Natural History

Having just gone through the college application process with my oldest son, I am more aware than ever that schools aren't just looking for good grades, great SAT scores, an outstanding essay, and a list of after-school activities, they also want to see some hands-on, real-world experience, preferably with a leadership component. That's where a summer internship can make your average, high-achieving, New York City teen really stand out from the rest of the equally high-achieving pack. 

Fortunately, because not all kids have the same interests, NYC summer internships come in a variety of flavors, paid and unpaid, regular and intermittent, educational and creative, with some also offering school and volunteer credit. The main thing summer internships in NYC tend to have in common is that the due dates to apply are usually before most teens have started thinking about their summer—or their college—plans.

To make sure your teens don’t miss out on any opportunities (and you don’t end up with an angsty child-shaped sloth on your couch for three months), check out our roundup on great internships and summer programs for teens in NYC—ranked in order of application deadlines.

Temple of Understanding at the United Nations — East Side
Ages: High school students
Application due: Saturday, January 21, 2017
Over a period of five weeks, interns sit in on the Security Council, the General Assembly, and their various committees' meetings, do a research project on a personal area of interest followed by an oral presentation, visit local interfaith sites and participate in volunteer projects like cleaning up public parks. This program is open to students from all over the world, but as housing is not provided, NYC teens are definitely at an advantage. Tuition is $1,800, but some need-based financial aid is available.

Summer Human Oncology & Pathogenesis Program at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center — Upper East Side
Ages: 10th to 12th graders
Application due: Friday, February 3, 2017
This eight-week program gives motivated and self-directed students a chance to conduct their own research in a state-of-the-art lab under the guidance of a post-doc, and then publicly present their results. A stipend is awarded upon completion of the program.

Project TRUE — Citywide
Ages: 11th graders
Application due: Friday, February 17, 2017
Project TRUE interns work at either the Bronx, Central Park or Prospect Park Zoo while spearheading their own research project to encompass experimental design, research methods and data analysis, with the help of Fordham University graduate students and Wildlife Conservation Society educators. Some weekend workdays are required, and unexcused absences will result in dismissal. (Teens can also pay to participate as part of a different Teen Intern program, or volunteer as a Discovery Guide.) A $599 stipend and MetroCard are provided.

Summer STEM Program at The Cooper Union — East Village
Ages: 10th to 11th graders
Application due: Friday, March 3, 2017
Once known as the Summer Research Internship, the renamed, expanded program offers qualified students six weeks of hands-on engineering, design and problem-solving alongside faculty and teaching assistants from the departments of civil, chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering. There is a tuition charge of $3,250 plus a $50 application fee but need-based scholarships of up to 100% are available. (A teen who learned about this program via Mommy Poppins last year reports that it was a fantastic experience!)

West Side YMCA Teen Career Connection — Upper West Side
Ages: 10th to 12th graders
Application due: Sunday, March 12, 2017
Created 14 years ago because of the difficulty teenagers have finding summer jobs, the Career Connection spends two weeks teaching interns skills like conflict resolution, dressing for success and public speaking. The rest of the program is spent mentoring students through six weeks of work at multiple locations, followed by a Portfolio Night where each presents about their experiences. Interns receive a $1,500 stipend, $300 clothing stipend, and two monthly MetroCards.

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Teen interns work in the great outdoors of the Bronx! Photo by Joshua Bright/courtesy of Wave Hill.

Forest Project at Wave Hill — the Bronx
Ages: 10th to 12th graders
Application due: Sunday, March 19, 2017
This rigorous, five-day a week, two month physical and academic internship teaches kids about ecology in an urban setting via interns building and maintaining woodland trails, removing invasive plant species, shoring up eroded slopes and helping restore disturbed woodland toward a more balanced state. $9/hour for first-year interns, $9.50/hour for second-years.

Student Historian Internship Program — Upper West Side
Ages: 10th to 12th graders
Application due: March 2017
American art and history is the means for vocational and academic training in public speaking and leadership. Interns help with family programming, and research art, artifacts, and documents, with an emphasis on future museum careers. Paid internships may be offered to interns who are eligible for free or reduced lunch at school; otherwise, internship is unpaid.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Upper East Side
Ages: Completing 10th to 12th grade and recent graduates residing in New York, New Jersey or Connecticut
Application due: Saturday, April 1, 2017
This internship consists of three main components: A department placement chosen based on the student’s interests, rotation through an assortment of career labs, and gallery sessions where pairs of interns lead discussions about a particular work of art.

Bronx-Westchester Area Health Education Center Summer Health Internship Program — Bronx
Ages: 11th and 12th graders and college students
Application due: Saturday, April 1, 2017
This program is only open to Bronx or Westchester County residents, or those who attend school there. The six-week summer internship introduces students to multiple health-care professions via shadowing, and encourages discussion of health issues that affect their particular community. There will also be lectures and field trips. (There is a similar program for residents of Manhattan and Staten Island, where the application will go online February 2017). Internship is unpaid.

New York County District Attorney’s High School Internship Program — Citywide
Ages: 10th to 12th graders
Application due: Saturday, April 8, 2017
Interns help out in one of three different District Attorney’s offices, as well as attend special presentations and field trips, and take part in mock trial competitions. Interns receive a weekly stipend of $150.

Central Park Conservancy — Parkwide
Ages: Must be 16 by June 1
Application due: Sunday, April 30, 2017
Interns work five days a week and some weekends on individual projects, then come together as a group on Fridays for field trips, or a group activity of in-depth study in the fields of horticulture or public programming. Paid internship; rates TBD.

ArtsLife at the Museum of Art & Design — Midtown West
Ages: Current sophomores and juniors
Application due: Sunday, April 30, 2017
For seven weeks, teens learn about museum career options like curating art, art education, development, public relations and marketing, visitor services and security. Field trips and leadership workshops are included. Paid; $9/hour.

Interns and seniors enjoy time together at an Intergenerational Game Day at DOROT. 

DOROT — Midtown West
Ages: For high school students entering 10th grade through graduating seniors
Application due date: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 (early applications are encouraged as spots often fill up before the deadline)
During the course of two, separate, four-week sessions, summer interns visit, deliver meals, help with technology, shop for and play various games with homebound senior citizens. Summer interns are then expected to volunteer during the school year. Internship is unpaid.

Go Getter Citywide
Ages: High school students
Application due: Monday, May 15, 2017
Interns work as teaching assistants in a K-5 classroom under the supervision of a head teacher, and in small groups or one-on-one to help with academic skills and model good behavior. Interns will also participate in professional development to hone community leadership skills. Internship is unpaid.

Saltz interns educate some AMNH visitors. 

Saltz Internship Program at American Museum of Natural History — Upper West Side
Ages: 15-18-year-old NYC students
Application due: Opens late January 2017
Saltz interns learn about the museum and its exhibits so they can then share their knowledge with visitors, especially children. Interns receive MetroCard and uniform for the duration of the program, and a stipend upon completion.

Youth Insights Arts Careers — Meatpacking District
Ages: 10th to 12th graders
Application due: Not yet open for summer
This program is for teens who might want to work in an art museum, but don’t know what they might like to do. Interns meets at the new Whitney Museum, but also travel to art institutions all over the city. Art supplies are provided. Those who take part in this summertime, unpaid internship can apply for a school-year, paid position upon completion.

Children’s Museum of the Arts — Soho
Ages: 12-15
Application due: Not yet available (last year it was due June 1)
Even preteens can aid younger children in creating works of art, as well as help the administration develop content for teen audiences. Internship is unpaid.

And now for something a little different...

The Pencil Fellows isn’t an internship program, per se. Instead, it prepares NYC high school juniors and seniors 16 years and older for the future by teaching them a variety of career-ready, hard and soft skills, then placing them in a paid, six week internship in a local business. The 2017 Ladders for Leaders Program Application is currently open and will be taking applications through February 17, 2017.

And just in case you were thinking of going outside of NYC for an internship— really far outside, as in outer space—NASA has a variety of internships for high-school students, including one at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in NY and beyond (topics vary by location), with the summer session deadline on March 1, 2017.

Top photo: Teen engineers work on projects with the help of Cooper Union faculty. Unless otherwise noted, photo courtesy of the organizations.