Launch Global Education
Sparks blog: Apprenticeship or Internship?

by Mr. Michael Wagner

The college application process is always evolving. Students who are already juggling deadlines and attempting to keep essay requirements at universities straight are also trying to strategize on many other aspects, such as test-optional submissions, and the list goes on and on. I question I often get is about the value of internships. In this blog we will delve into internships, and also apprenticeships, further.

Emphasis on activities outside of school

In the numerous college admissions information sessions that I have sat in on recently, one activity that is being emphasized more is students having an internship outside of school. This is an opportunity for students to show that they have been involved with some type of outside experience that is more than a school sponsored activity. Ideally, it is an activity that a student dedicates time to over several weeks or months that has a deeper connection to the student’s interests and is tied to what the student wishes to pursue as a college major in college and a career.

However, as much as I agree that an internship is a great opportunity for a student to gain firsthand, on-the-job experience, to get a better idea of what the job or career may be like, it got me thinking; what about students obtaining apprenticeship opportunities instead? Which leads to the next question, what are the differences?

student with mentor

Features of internships

·       Usually for short periods of time

·       Built with flexibility—the student may be exposed to numerous facets of a certain position or job

·       Normally set up similar to an employee, where the student will be supervised by a specific person and will be guided towards certain tasks and responsibilities

·       Typically unpaid, however, more and more are becoming paid positions depending on the company, position, etc.

·       Certification or credentialing usually offered

Features of apprenticeships

·       Normally for longer periods of time—may last several months and even years

·       Follow a formal structure and plan, with a specific emphasis on a certain skill or skills that will be directly related to a specific job or occupation

·       Usually have a supervisor or mentor that will work one-on-one with the student

·       Typically paid programs that are directly related to a specific job or occupation for which the apprenticeship is designed

·       Designed with a fixed completion period after which the student receives a credential or certificate in the area of emphasis

student vet with dog

Which is better?

A student rising from Junior to Senior year (a rising senior) has a limited amount of time before starting college applications likely does not have sufficient time to get into an in-depth apprenticeship that lasts months. In most cases, an internship is likely the best option.

If you are a rising sophomore or rising junior, obtaining an internship over the summer and seeing if it can continue during the upcoming school year would be terrific. Better yet, research the possibility of securing an apprenticeship in a specific industry or business that interests you as a possible college major or career option.

student measuring wood

Why an apprenticeship?

Here is the big difference of an apprenticeship: when college admissions representatives begin reviewing applications, they tend to like to see quality over quantity. In demonstrating quality, they look for students involved with activities that have a connection to the interests of the student—showing a link to their passion(s) and the drive of the student as they chart their path to college.

Internships tend to be shorter in length and may not be as in-depth or detailed within the content of the area of interest. And community service that is a few hours here and a few hours there with no clear purpose is truly just haphazard.

A great way to show college representatives such quality is to focus on an apprenticeship that directly relates to your passion and interest, one that you have engaged in over an extended period of time, not just a few days or weeks. This is a true demonstrated engagement strategy.

Below are a few apprenticeship resources for students and parents to get you started.

Apprenticeship USA-Youth Apprenticeship

International Foundation of Employee Benefit Plans

Amazing Apprenticeships

There is also an abundance of apprenticeship resources at local levels. Examples of apprenticeships for high school students include robotic welder, chef, aerospace engineering assistant, nursing assistant, machinist, early childhood educator, carpenter, auto technician, financial teller, digital marketer, and vet lab technician, to name just a few.

student with engineer looking at drawing

While an apprenticeship might not be right for every student, it could be a valuable part of your high school experience and college planning strategy.

Mr. Michael J. Wagner

Michael Wagner, MAED is a founder and the Knowledge Pilot for Launch Education.  Mr. Mike has assisted hundreds of students around the world on their college pathways.