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How to Land a Data Science Internship

Internships for high school students are an ideal way to begin gaining experience relevant to the industry they hope to enter. These positions help boost critical thinking skills while also providing networking opportunities with professionals in your desired field.

These relationships can often turn into mentorships that will last long after the internship is over. Seasoned professionals can offer you guidance on how best to prepare for your career, as well as lend a comforting ear when things inevitably become overwhelming or don’t go your way.

Data science is one of the fastest-growing career paths in the world right now. It can be applied to virtually every industry and computers are constantly advancing to be able to analyze increasingly large sets of data. Internships in data science are somewhat hard to come by for high school students, largely because data science is a career that requires a Bachelor’s degree at minimum and many data scientists have either their Masters or a Ph.D. However, these types of internships are available for a select few who are eager to get an early start in the exciting field of data science. 

Extracurricular Activities

It is currently more common for high schoolers to learn computer science during high school; most students aren’t exposed to data science until college or later. But you can still prepare for internship opportunities while in high school. Data science requires a foundation of skills that a high school student can learn now, which will help them stand out among their peers later on.

The most desirable candidates for a data science internship will have a keen ability to explain their findings to an audience that is usually less experienced in technology than they are. Because of this, any high school student interested in pursuing a data science career would benefit from learning communication and presentation skills as early as possible. Many high schools offer activities like speech and debate, theater, and student government clubs. All of these activities can help a budding data scientist feel comfortable speaking in front of an audience and learn more about communicating with others. 

It is critically important to emphasize math and science in your high school studies as much as possible. You might want to consider taking some Advanced Placement courses in subjects like Calculus, Computer Science, and Statistics. Many data science degree requirements are heavy in courses like these, and an internship applicant should be as familiar with these concepts as possible. Students who do well on their AP exams have the opportunity to apply for several internships and scholarships offered by the AP Program, in partnership with major corporations like Facebook, Amazon, and Google.

Research Proposal

Before you apply for a data science internship, you’ll want to spend a good amount of time honing your area of interest and deciding on a few potential research proposals. Many programs ask you to explain your research interest in the form of an essay question that is submitted with the rest of your application. This helps you get matched with a mentor that will be a good fit for you. It also allows you to explain how your research would be done and how your findings could be applied in the real world.

Data science is applicable in almost every industry imaginable, so narrowing down your research can be tricky. If you’re stumped for ideas or don’t know where to start, you can browse some recently approved research proposals for inspiration. 

Interview Tips and Tricks

Aside from knowing a few areas you’d like to specialize in, several aspects are commonly found in interviews for data science internships. If you’re curious about potential interview questions, Glassdoor is a great resource. Many employees will post examples of real questions they were asked during their interviews. Try focusing your search on companies that connect with your research proposal. Being properly prepared for the interview will go a long way toward convincing the interviewer that you’re the right person for the spot.

Experience with coding is a must-have skill for any aspiring data scientist. Python is currently the most widely used programming language when it comes to data science, but if you’re more familiar with another language that isn’t a bad thing; being proficient in one programming language will demonstrate that you can learn others. If coding is something you are unfamiliar with, there are plenty of resources available to learn and practice. There are several online coding challenge communities you can join to meet like-minded people and practice as much as possible. Participation in these activities also demonstrates your commitment to improving your skills and your current abilities. Some of the most popular communities like this are AlgoExpert, LeetCode, and codewars

During any kind of interview, people are often tempted to embellish their skills and experiences to ensure they get the position. While this isn’t a good idea in any interview situation, it’s especially ill-advised when being considered for a position in data science. If you don’t know how to do something, be honest and explain your willingness to learn. Sincerity and honesty are skills that cannot be taught; technical skills can. Being honest about your shortcomings will show interviewers that you are a person of integrity who is worth training. 

Learn Data Science in NextGen’s Summer Classes

If learning data science as a high school student sounds exciting to you, you may want to check out NextGen Bootcamp’s data science courses for high schoolers. They offer in-person data science classes at their campus in Manhattan, as well as live online data science classes that can be attended remotely from all over the world. Since data science also requires a healthy knowledge of coding, you’re welcome to take a look at NextGen’s catalog of coding classes for high school students to see a complete list.

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