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I'm a rising junior (going into 11th grade) and have a great desire to find and participate in a programming internship while I am still at high school. I have a lot of free time during the school year, and summer I am generally free, grades are not an issue.

I know C++, Java, PHP, and I know some Python/Javascript. Also, I have some experience with reverse engineering using IDA Pro. I'm take interest in primarily backend development, and I haven't been able to find any opportunities for high school students. The closest offers I found was a front end development position (I really don't like design), and a tutoring position. If I was only interested in making money, the tutoring position would be fine, however, I wish to have real world backend development experience.

A big issue with finding a job during high school is the legal issues. For reference, I live in Massachusetts and I am 16 years old, so I am legally allowed to obtain a work permit which doesn't prohibit programming jobs. I'm unsure what to do at this point, as there are no opportunities available in my state involving what I'd like to do.

I was wondering if anyone had gone through the same process I am trying to do now, and if anyone had tips on how to achieve my goal of finding a programming internship. Thanks in advance.

It is not a duplicate about the engineering internship at 16 question because the answers to that question primarily pertains to Engineering, not Programming. Also, the answers seem to all give one answer "networking" which I have made clear I do not really have "networks"/people to contact.

  • Do you want an internship or experience? Experience you can get by working on bigger projects by yourself, just find some ideas and start researching and trying backend tecnologies. – DarkCygnus Jul 25 '17 at 20:25
  • @GrayCygnus Both, I want to work on projects with a company, not by myself. – Rob Gates Jul 25 '17 at 20:26
  • @Joe Strazzere I have tried to do so, but their version of "high school internships" is working at Dunkin Donuts or getting an "internship" at an ice cream shop. They don't really have technological opportunities. – Rob Gates Jul 25 '17 at 20:27
  • I found this related question that may be worth reading. Also this other one – DarkCygnus Jul 25 '17 at 20:30
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    Possible duplicate of How to apply for engineering internships at 16? – David K Jul 26 '17 at 12:09
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This is an interesting question. I used to hire a lot(!) of college interns, and that might be a viable route. I.e., sign up for some college-level classes (some high schools will let you take them for credit towards graduation instead of your normal courses), then ask the CS or Engineering internship placement office for help.

If that won't fly, reach out to the local startup incubators. You may find an opportunity to invest some sweat equity in one of their ventures. Also try raising your question on Hacker News; there are undoubtedly a lot of people there who might know of an opportunity.

Also do the obvious: look for job listings titled "internship." If you're old enough to work, you're not legally obligated (AFAIK) to reveal your age unless they ask (and if they do, they're taking a legal risk that is off-topic here.) I presume you'll have to stick to part-time opportunities though, which will limit this option pretty severely.

If you've tried the above and it doesn't work, reach out to me directly. I know some people out your way who might be able to help.

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Your best approach is networking with friend of your parents and the parents of your friends.

There are quite a bit of "hidden jobs" out there that are gotten through networking with people. Someone's company might not have an opening right now, but upon hearing an inquiry of "Hey, Bob, my son's friend was wondering if we have any programs for HS kids. Yeah, he's a programmer"

Another approach is going to a charity or the volunteer office of a local hospital and explain that you want to donate your time as a programmer".

You could also go to a site like gig guru or rat race rebellion and do some independent consulting.

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Look, I have been through something similar.

I had done two internships before I got to where I wanted.

At your age and experience, it is harder to find a job in IT. Networking really is your best bet. You should try and ask relatives; not just your parents. Even relatives working on construction might need a developer (usually for web).

Your first job most likely won't be what you want, but don't sweat, it will eventually get you to where you want with perseverance.

I also recommend using tools at your disposition. Create a LinkedIn account and add everyone you know. Make sure your profile is clean and shows projects you have worked on during your free time.

Facebook is also a nice networking tool. Why don't you post a message saying you are looking for a job in IT?

Do a google search for local job postings, there might be hidden gems.

I wish you luck and don't give up even if you don't find something right now. Once you get a degree it will be way easier to prove yourself to employers.

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