How To Get High School Internships

College Boss
5 min readJan 15, 2021

High school students often ask us: how do I find a research position in high school? How do I contact a professor and convince them to take me, even if I lack experience?

In this guide, we are going to be breaking down exactly what you should and can include in an email to a professor/researcher. We are going to highlight what you should emphasize and how to do it. More importantly, we are going to provide you with a template you can follow for all your emailing needs!

Introduce yourself

First and foremost, the most straightforward way to start an email is by introducing yourself, stating your name, school year and your subjects of academic focus (IB, AP’s, A-level’s etc…). This can and often should be tailored to each individual emailed. In fact, doing this is particularly easy as a high school student since you often have no exact major. So, a student contacting a professor for research in Biology and Gene Therapy and another professor for Molecular Chemistry research can generally call their area of academic focus Life Sciences or Biological Sciences.

Tell them why their work interests you

Emphasis here is placed on their work. They are not looking to see why you are generally interested in the field of biology. In finding a research position so early on, students need to demonstrate a deep interest beyond that of the general study of biology. As an example, if you are contacting a researcher examining the role of neurodegeneration in Alzheimer’s induced brain changes, students will show greater depth if they talk about their interest with the concepts of neurodegeneration and disease induced brain changes than by broadly taking about the negative impacts of diseases such as Alzheimers. Again, these emails are meant to be short, sharp and sweet. Enough to capture the researcher’s attention.

Tell them how you can contribute

These people are often busy and students should make sure to only provide information that would be helpful in convincing them. That is, always talk about the positives. If you lack research experience, do not say something along the lines of ‘I don’t have much experience but I will try hard if you give me this opportunity’. Instead, focus on what skills you have and turn it into an ‘asset’ for them. Something along the lines of ‘I have started learning about xyz research concept and want to grow this knowledge in your lab, where I will become a valuable member’. In fact, if lacking research experience, one great work around is to take the time to read the literature surrounding the subjects of interest for the research you are aiming to work on to show a willingness to learn, motivation, and initiative. This will be much more effective than blankly stating that you are ‘motivated and willing to learn’.

We will be releasing a list of online journals and repertoires that students can look to read free, current published work. Sign up at our newsletter below to get access!

Here, you can really showcase any unique skills you may have. We recommend mentioning only relevant key skills/experiences in the email and attaching the rest through a CV/resumé. Many students find themselves stuck here as they struggle to identify skills they may have. The most important and one that is under emphasized for high schools is the efficiency and knowledge behind basic computer software such as Microsoft Excel, Power Point, Word, Google Drive, Google Slides etc… Many high schoolers are proficient in these, or similar, and even a more common skill such as this should be emphasized. Modern research is not completely detached from using these tools and many labs will most certainly have work available involving these them. Experience with programming languages such as Python or Java are always useful and should be highlighted. Students with little experience can also emphasize their familiarity with scientific papers again showing a commitment to learning even if practical opportunities have not been provided. If a student is applying to a wet lab, they can mention relevant experiments they may have gained familiarity with through Biology or Chemistry labs.

Students should make sure to tailor all emails to the research professional. There is no singular template for all positions. Even within the same field, the diversity of experiments and investigations makes it such that there won’t always be overlap between these templates.

Again the email is meant to be short and simple. Combining the above mentioned ideas you get the following template.

Example for Alzheimer’s research internship

Dear Professor/Dr. [INSERT],

My name is [INSERT NAME], I am a [SCHOOL YEAR] at [SCHOOL NAME] focusing on [AREA(S) OF FOCUS]. I came across a paper you wrote in [JOURNAL] on [PAPER SUBJECT]. As I am particularly interested in the field of Alzheimer’s, specifically, [INSERT LEADING QUESTION INVESTIGATED BY RESEARCHER] (e.g. the degeneration and degradation of white and gray matter tracts during early onset of Alzheimer’s symptoms). [ELABORATE ON INTEREST] (Multiple sentences, e.g. I believe that investigations into the degeneration of these tracts is essential in characterizing the progress of Alzheimer’s … I discovered through your paper that you are using a new imaging technique to analyze the degradation … I am interested in applying my skills to this software … ). I therefore found your paper relevant to my current and future academic goals. I believe I can contribute to your efforts through my skills. I have experience with [RELEVANT SKILLS] (2–3 sentences, tie back into their lab if you can, e.g. I have actively been using Microsoft Excel and recently completed a school project involving multiples statistical analysis tools on the software). Under you/your lab’s mentorship, I can develop these skills further and build a strong foundation for my future research. I have attached my CV/resume below with additional relevant experience. I look forward to hearing back from you!

Sincerely/Best,

[FULL NAME]

[ATTACH CV]

If you need help with a research position template, send us an email! The first template review is free!

At College Boss, our goal is to help you understand which pre-med path is the right for you. Whether the traditional 4 year undergraduate pathway, the BS/MD programs or even the UK medical school pathway, we are here to guide you through the application process. Please contact us with any questions you may have, we are here to help!

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College Boss

Our goal is to help you understand which pre-med path is the right for you. We are dedicated to helping students get into the college of their dreams!