If you’re a high school student in the nation's capital wondering how to enhance your college application and build a stronger foundation for your future career, chances are an internship will tick several boxes for you.
Washington, DC has an abundance of internship opportunities – from world-class institutions like the Smithsonian and NASA to the heart of American politics in the US Senate, the city offers a vast array of internships that allow you to dive into real-world settings, engage with professionals in your chosen field and develop crucial skills that will come in hand in the future.
In this article, we’ve listed 12 internships for you to choose from. Whether it’s STEM or politics, art history or biomedicine, there’s a program for you.
Note: Please keep in mind the following information is for 2023, though dates tend to be similar from year to year.
Application deadline: January (Fall session) | August (Spring session) | October (Summer session)
Eligibility: Internships are available for full-time high school students who meet a minimum 3.0 GPA requirement.
Program dates: These internships are offered in 3 sessions – Fall (16-week program, from late August or early September to mid-December) | Spring (16-week program, from mid-January to early May) | Summer (10-week program, from late May or early June to August).
Location: These internships are offered across NASA facilities. Students in Washington may select roles based in the NASA headquarters at Washington, DC.
Stipend: Interns may receive a stipend based on academic level and session length.
These NASA internships are an exceptional opportunity for high school students to contribute to projects ongoing at the agency under the guidance of a NASA mentor. The program provides training, mentoring, and career development opportunities alongside the chance to work with the best science, engineering, financial, information technology, and business minds in the world. The internships are offered in a range of subjects and disciplines, including space science, engineering, aeronautics, technology, space microbiology, ecology, and even outreach and communications.
During this internship, you may be involved in designing experiments, analyzing data from space missions, or developing new technologies – engaging in real-world experiences, and gaining valuable experience and insight into NASA's work. The program nurtures a passion for scientific discovery.
Note: All internships part of this program are posted here. Details will vary from role to role and will be available to view in each separate posting. Be sure to check internships eligible for your grade when applying.
Application Deadline: Varies from location to location
Eligibility: Students applying must be at least 16 years old by the closing date of the post you’re applying to. Students must also have a cumulative GPA of 2.0 at the time of application and throughout internship appointment.
Program dates: While the dates of the internship will vary from post to post, those under the Internship Experience Program (IEP) are expected to last the length of the academic program for which the intern is enrolled, and those under the Internship Temporary Program (ITEP) will run during seasonal and holiday breaks as well as year-round.
Location: This will vary, but students in Washington, DC may opt for openings in their location, such as the Pathways Intern (Facility Assistant) at the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. You can see all eligible vacancies in Washington, DC under this program here.
Stipend: This varies from post to post.
These internships are opportunities to explore Federal careers in various offices of the government. Through them, students can gain firsthand experience in various aspects of foreign affairs, public policy, and international affairs by working as an intern at offices such as the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, Office of Structured Finance and Insurance, Office of the General Counsel, Environmental Protection Agency, and so on.
The program offers a structured learning environment, where you will work alongside experienced professionals, engage in meaningful projects, and develop critical skills for the global stage. The internships can prepare you for future leadership roles, and encourage you to become informed and culturally sensitive global citizens.
As mentioned above, there are two types of internships under this program: the Internship Experience Program (IEP) and the Internship Temporary Program (ITEP). IEP interns, while in the program, are eligible for noncompetitive promotions and federal employee benefits. ITEP interns are appointed to temporary appointments, which will not exceed one year or their projected graduation date (whichever is shorter) and extensions may be made in one-year increments.
The positions to which the interns are appointed have no promotion potential.
A couple more internships in this program based in Washington, DC:
Note: All vacancies part of this internship program are posted on USAJobs.gov. So details such as the application deadline, and internship dates will vary from role to role and will be available on each specific posting. Check the current vacancies here.
Application Deadline: Varies from location to location
Eligibility: High school students who are at least 16 years old, currently have and maintain a cumulative 2.9 GPA on a 4.0 scale, and will be able to complete at least 640 hours of work prior to completing their degree/certificate requirements, can apply.
Program dates: This is a long-term internship that will run parallel with the school year. Interns are required to complete at least 640 hours of work prior to completing their degree/certificate requirements
Location: While there are many NASA locations to choose from, students in Washington, DC may choose to apply to the vacancies at the NASA headquarters in Washington, DC itself.
Stipend: While this is a paid internship, the exact stipend amount varies.
If you’re interested in a career in the world of space exploration and scientific discovery, consider this program. This is a multi-semester paid internship opportunity that has the potential to turn into full-time work at NASA. As an intern, you will be assigned challenging, meaningful work aligned with your academic or career interests, while being mentored by renowned scientists and engineers at NASA. Internships are offered in the fields of engineering, science, and technology, and in business as well, which will include subjects such as social sciences, program management, accounting, communication, math, and statistics. With hands-on projects and real-world experiences, the internship prepares you as a next-generation scientist.
Note: All vacancies part of this internship program are posted on USAJobs.gov. So details such as the application deadline and internship dates will vary from role to role and will be available on each specific posting. Check out NASA’s Pathways Internship Program: Applicant Guide.
Application deadline: March 10, 2023 (for the Summer 2023 internship) | June 9, 2023 (for the Fall 2023 internship) | November 10, 2023 (for the Spring 2024 internship)
Eligibility: High school students and recent graduates can apply.
Program dates: Internships take place over the course of 10 weeks, part-time for approximately 20 hours per week. Start and end dates and weekly schedules are flexible.
Location: APAC office in Washington, DC.
Stipend: A modest stipend is offered.
This internship is for students passionate about exploring the rich and diverse cultures, histories, and experiences of Asian-Pacific American communities. APAC believes that a great 21st-century museum is more than a building – they work to redefine and expand the traditional museum model to transform how museums can be places for civic engagement, critical and constructive dialogue, and social justice. And that’s exactly what you, as an intern, will be engaged in. You will learn hands-on, participating in curatorial work, public programming, research, and community outreach. You will learn about the community’s contributions to art, culture, and society, and how its significance can be presented at the museum. These internships foster a sense of identity, belonging, and empowerment.
While a few summer internships offered by the Smithsonian Office of Internships are listed in this article below, under the Summer Internships section, you can have a look at the wide range of internships offered by the Smithsonian here.
Application deadline: This information will be available on the respective senator’s website, and if not, you can contact their office for details.
Eligibility: High school juniors who will be 16 or 17 years old on or before the date of appointment, and have a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.0/B, may apply.
Program dates: Fall (early September - late January) | Spring (late January - early June) | Summer Session I (3-4 weeks in June) | Summer Session II (3-4 weeks in July)
Location: United States Senate, Washington, DC
The U.S. Senate Page Program is a chance for high school juniors to learn the value of public service while meeting some of the nation’s prominent leaders and witnessing political debates in the Senate firsthand. As a page, you will play a significant role in the daily operation of the Senate and will have a range of responsibilities that you share with other pages.
These will include delivering correspondence and legislative material within the Capitol and Senate office buildings, preparing the Chamber for Senate sessions, working on the Senate floor providing assistance during roll call votes, supporting senators and staff during debates, and carrying bills and amendments to the desk. This program will provide insight into the legislative process and expose you to the inner workings of the nation's capital.
We’ve covered this program in detail here!
Note: The application process differs across Senators’ offices. Many offices provide information on their application process online, however, not all senators sponsor pages. Students should contact their senators’ offices directly if they need further guidance. Unfortunately, the program does not have a list of senators who are able to sponsor pages. If you wish to apply for a page position, find your senator’s website here and apply directly. Information on stipend, housing, and other details will also be provided by the respective senator’s office.
Summer Internships in Washington, DC
Application deadline: March 15, 2023
Eligibility: High school students entering their junior or senior year, or those who have just finished their senior year, can apply.
Program dates: 8-week summer internship to be completed by August 31, 2023.
Location: In and around Smithsonian facilities in Washington, DC
This science internship offered by the well-regarded Smithsonian Institution is for students interested in scientific research and discovery. As an intern, you will be guided by a mentor for the duration of the program, as you acquire in-depth knowledge and understanding of various scientific disciplines, such as biology, environmental science, astronomy, and more, in the dynamic atmosphere of the world’s largest museum complex.
As an intern, you can expect to learn practical skills and gain program development experience in offices, museums, and research facilities. You will also attend meetings, lectures, and public programs, and have access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources.
Application deadline: Applications open in August and close on November 1st every year.
Eligibility: High school students who have completed at least grade 9, and are at least 16 years old when the internship begins, can apply. Graduating seniors are eligible as well. There is room for some exceptions. Students are recommended to check whether their preferred lab choice has any other particular requirements.
Program dates: Eight weeks in the summer. Exact dates are not provided at the moment.
Location: While there are several lab locations to choose from, students in DC may select the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) or the United States Naval Observatory (USNO), both located in Washington, DC.
Stipend: $4,000 (new participant) | $4,500 (returning participant)
If you’ve been thinking about science and engineering for your future studies and career, you must consider including this program in your high school journey. It’s an opportunity to work alongside leading researchers and engineers at Navy laboratories and facilities across the country, on real Naval research. During the program, you will receive mentoring from expert scientists and engineers. While working on projects hands-on, you will gain valuable knowledge and skills in various STEM disciplines, such as computer science and aeronautics. SEAP is a fairly competitive program, with only 300 placements a year – and several students go on to pursue careers at the DoN.
Application deadline: February 1, every year.
Eligibility: Students who are high school juniors or seniors at the time of application (or have recently graduated), and are 17 years or older on June 15, 2023, may apply. Do look through all the eligibility requirements before applying. There are some additional requirements for HiSTEP and HiSTEP 2.0.
Program dates: Minimum 8 weeks in summer, information on exact dates is not available.
Location: Students can choose from NIH campuses across the country. Students in DC may choose the one in Bethesda, MD, which is the closest to Washington, DC – only 30 minutes away. This also happens to be the NIH's main campus.
Stipend: $2,300-2,530 (for students currently in high school) | $2,570-2,840 (for students who have graduated high school)
NIH offers a suite of summer internship programs for high school students in the scientific realm. HS-SIP is a unique opportunity for students to engage in hands-on biomedical research alongside leading scientists and mentors. In it, you will work on ongoing research projects, analyze data, and acquire essential laboratory skills.
HiSTEP is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of scientists and promoting diversity in STEM. The program partners with renowned research institutions to help you dive into cutting-edge scientific investigations across diverse disciplines. HiSTEP is not a hands-on, full-time research program. It will combine an introduction to scientific, professional, and personal skills with leadership training, wellness programming, and an exploration of STEM-M (science, technology, engineering, math, and medically related) careers. In addition, it will help prepare you for future scholarships and internships.
HiSTEP 2.0, an advanced continuation program, offers an in-depth exploration of scientific research. Tailored for students who have completed HiSTEP or similar research experiences, HiSTEP 2.0 allows you to design and conduct independent research projects under the guidance of mentor scientists in the field of biomedicine. You will also participate in weekly workshops and seminars aimed at developing your scientific, professional, and personal skills.
Note: Part of the HS-SIP are two programs, High School Scientific Training and Enrichment Program (HiSTEP) and HiSTEP 2.0. We have covered these pieces in detail here!
Application deadline: Applications open in October and typically close in January.
Eligibility: Current high school juniors and seniors are eligible to apply. See all eligibility criteria here.
Program dates: 8-week summer internship, including an all-expenses-covered week-long Student Leadership Summit in Washington, DC. Dates vary by location, but the internship usually begins shortly after the school year ends.
Location: A local non-profit organization in Washington, DC that the Bank of America has partnered with for the internship program.
Stipend: It is a paid internship, but no information is available on the exact amount.
With this program, the bank aims to foster community-mindedness, encouraging and training students who are passionate about improving their community. The program offers an opportunity for you to work at a local non-profit organization, as you develop your leadership and community skills. While you learn about the various aspects of running such an organization, engage in community service projects, and develop a deeper understanding of social issues, you will simultaneously work on skills that will aid in your future academics and career.
This 8-week paid internship includes a week-long Student Leadership Summit held in Washington, DC. The travel, food and stay for the same will be covered by the bank. This entire experience will equip young leaders like you with the knowledge and tools to drive positive change in your community.
We have covered this opportunity in depth here!
Application deadline: January 10, 2023
Eligibility: Students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 on a 4.0 scale are highly encouraged to apply, but a GPA of less than 3.0 will not disqualify applicants. Students applying must be at least 16 years old (by the application deadline). It’s recommended you read through all the eligibility requirements before applying.
Program dates: The part of this internship program that takes place in Washington will be a full-time summer internship, with a duration of a minimum of 8 weeks, and a maximum of 12-16 weeks.
Location: This internship program is conducted in multiple locations, students in DC may select the one in Washington, DC.
Stipend: $468.80 per week
The AFRL Scholars Program allows students to engage in cutting-edge STEM research and innovation. During this program, you will contribute to unique, research-based projects, working with full-time AFRL scientists and engineers on cutting-edge research and technology. Research topics covered in this STEM-based internship include but are not limited to, satellite navigation, machine learning techniques, atomic physics, AI development, astrodynamics, and robotics. You will be a part of real-world projects that contribute to advancements in critical areas. Based on the location you select, you will have a few research topics you can choose from. You can apply to up to 3 locations.
Note: This internship is conducted in multiple locations. The one conducted in Washington, DC is in partnership with the Joint Staff (J-7) Directorate at the Pentagon.
Application deadline: March 24, 2023
Eligibility: Rising high school seniors and recent graduates can apply.
Program dates: July 3, 2023 - August 7, 2023
Location: Washington, DC
Stipend: $650/week over 5 consecutive weeks (Total: $3,250)
This paid summer internship is for students who wish to hone their creativity and imagination in the art of expression. Over the course of 5 weeks, you will learn about audience engagement, exhibition design, and research stories associated with objects of all kinds and the people who used and created them. As an intern, you will work on finding new ways to tell stories inspired by the Smithsonian’s collections and research, fostering a deeper understanding of art, science, history, and culture. You will work closely with experienced professionals in the industry, curators, and educators at a renowned cultural institution, the Smithsonian. At the end of the program, you will have the opportunity to present an expression of your internship experience in any form you choose.
Application deadline: March 5, 2023
Eligibility: Those applying must be current high school students who are U.S. citizens or permanent legal residents. Additional eligibility requirements vary by location.
Program dates: This is a summer internship program, specific dates vary from location to location.
Location: While there are AEOP locations in almost every state, students in DC may select their preferred location.
Stipend: Varies from location to location.
This apprenticeship is a chance to work one-on-one with a university researcher or Department of Defense (DoD) scientist mentor on research projects. As an apprentice, you will be exposed to high-tech equipment and cutting-edge techniques in state-of-the-art laboratory facilities, and have unparalleled access to professional scientists and engineers. Additionally, you will learn from several STEM practitioners who will be working around you. The Army-sponsored research that you will be a part of addresses the country’s biggest challenges. This apprenticeship fosters critical thinking, problem-solving, and teamwork, preparing you for your future career in STEM. Through mentorship and collaboration with professionals, you can contribute to the discovery and innovation that will benefit your country.
One other option – Lumiere Research Scholar Program
If you are passionate about research, you could also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students I founded with researchers at Harvard and Oxford. Last year, we had over 4000 students apply for 500 spots in the program! You can find the application form here.
Stephen is one of the founders of Lumiere and a Harvard College graduate. He founded Lumiere as a PhD student at Harvard Business School. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.
Image Source: NASA logo