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8 Hospitality Internships for High School Students

If you’re a high school student interested in pursuing a career in hospitality, an internship in the field is worth considering! These internships will provide you with firsthand exposure to various roles within the industry, from front desk operations and hotel management to event planning, culinary arts, and tourism.

 

Participating in a hospitality internship will allow you to gain real-world experience, develop essential skills like communication, teamwork, and problem-solving, and help you explore potential career paths in the diverse field of hospitality. You’ll also make connections with experts who might later write you letters of recommendation, act as references, and offer you career guidance and support. 

 

Early exposure to the field can make your college admissions essays more compelling and help you develop a deeper understanding of the hospitality sector. It can also boost your profile for college applications by demonstrating your academic skills and passion for learning.

 

Here’s our curated list of 8 hospitality internships for high school students including both traditional internships and intensive programs that offer hands-on experience in the field!


Cost/Stipend: Free though housing costs, transportation, and meals are not covered. There is also a $100 participation fee. You can also apply for dorm housing at $100 to $135 per week. Interns receive stipends according to the market rate.

Location: Multiple internship opportunities are available in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, and Sevierville in Tennessee.

Application Deadline: Applications for high school students for summer 2025 are due by May 1, 2025. You can check the due dates for every semester here.

Dates: The program for summer 2025 will begin on June 2 and run for 14 weeks.

Eligibility: All High school students are eligible to apply but specific requirements vary depending on the opportunity.


The Southern Hospitality Internship Program (SHIP) connects high schoolers, college students, and recent graduates to internship opportunities with major names in the hospitality industry, such as Smoky Mountain Resorts. In addition to jobs in tourism and hospitality management, the internship program covers a variety of career paths of interest, from accounting to sports management & recreation.

During the internship, you can expect to work directly with guests and customers in a variety of ways. You might be assigned to selling products, educating and guiding guests, and conducting tours. Many interns gain valuable problem-solving experience by working at the front desk of their establishment. You’ll also likely learn about operations and the corporate component of hospitality through meetings, seminars, and staff training.

 

You’ll get a behind-the-curtain look at the hospitality industry, which can help you define your career goals. You’ll also be able to demonstrate problem-solving skills and a deeper understanding of the industry in your college applications.


Cost/Stipend: Free but you’ll be responsible for your housing, transportation, and meals. This is an unpaid internship program.

Location: The Alamo, San Antonio, TX

Application Deadline: Applications usually close in March for the summer, July for the fall, and November for the spring.

Dates: June to July (summer) | September to November (fall) | February to April (Spring)

Eligibility: All high school students with eligibility to work in the U.S. can apply.


The Alamo is one of the most distinctive landmarks in the United States, with a wide variety of exhibits and activities. It offers a 10-week internship to high school, undergraduate, and graduate students interested in hospitality, museum studies, and several other fields. Hospitality interns can expect to work in both visitor experiences and business. You’ll get to assist with audience education and engagement and help in daily operations. This might mean working in the gift shop, assisting with tours, answering questions about exhibits, and helping with prepping exhibits and tours. You’ll also get to see the business aspect of the Alamo. 


You might attend marketing meetings, sit in on accounting discussions, and meet with IT officials to learn about their work at the Alamo. The combination of learning about behind-the-scenes operations and working face-to-face with guests and staff gives you an invaluable experience at one of the most famous tourist destinations in the country. You’ll be able to show admissions committees that you have an academic drive and applicable experience in the hospitality industry, and you’ll get the chance to learn about the intersection of history and hospitality.


Cost/Stipend: No cost; a $350 stipend for students who attend all 50 hours of training (Stipends will also be provided to the students who cannot attend all 10 days of camp at $35 per day of attendance).

Location: UCF Rosen College of Hospitality Management, Orlando, FL

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis till all the slots are filled.

Dates: June 17–June 28, 2024

Eligibility: Students ages 14-21, in school with an IEP or 504 plan who reside in Orange, Lake, or Seminole counties are eligible to participate.


EmployU Hospitality Camp is an in-person career camp with hands-on activities, site tours, field trips to hotels, and information from industry leaders and the best hospitality professors. This program is structured as an immersion experience and will cover an array of career opportunities within the hospitality field. There will be a graduation event with a certification presentation to all students who complete the program.


This is a 2-week program that includes 20 hours of workplace readiness training, 5 hours of career camp counseling on enrollment opportunities, and 25 hours of work-based learning experience. Attendance during the virtual mandatory orientation and training on June 14, 2024, from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm via Microsoft Teams, is required to participate. This program can help you explore new avenues in the hospitality field, gain practical experience, and learn first-hand from professionals.


Cost/Stipend: Free; This is a paid internship.

Location: Washington, D.C.

Application Deadline: Varies depending on the restaurants’ requirements.

Dates: The program runs during the school year for 13 weeks. The exact dates depend on the restaurants’ requirements.

Eligibility: Founding Farmers DC currently hosts students from Roosevelt High School but is looking for other schools in the District to partner with. You’ll need to be eligible to work in the United States.


The Farmers Restaurant Group, a farmer-owned collection of restaurants, offers a hospitality internship in partnership with Career Technical Education (CTE) programs in DC public schools. This opportunity is paid and combines hospitality experience with culinary arts training. The internship lasts for 13 weeks and provides direct mentorship from industry professionals. You’ll be encouraged to explore any aspect of the hospitality industry that interests you.

 

You’ll get to work in a restaurant to gain professional experience. Depending on your interests, you may work in guest relations, learn to create professional-level dishes, and even compete in local and regional culinary competitions. The former participants love the support they received from mentors and often repeat their internships either sticking with the same field of interest or branching out into new aspects of hospitality. The ability to repeat this internship is a huge benefit because you’ll be able to deepen your understanding of hospitality even if you investigate a new aspect of the industry. The strong support of mentors means you’ll have a professional community to draw on for advice and recommendations when it comes time for college applications.


Cost/Stipend: Free; Paid

Location: Fontana-On-Geneva Lake, WI

Application Deadline: The applications are accepted on a rolling basis, depending on which positions are open at the time. 

Dates: Jobs are available during the summer and the school year, and you can choose your start and end dates. You can check here for current openings.

Eligibility: High school students aged 16 or older with eligibility to work in the U.S. can apply.


The Abbey Resort on Fontana-On-Geneva Lake, Wisconsin offers high school students job opportunities in the hospitality industry every summer. The Abbey partners with local high schools and provides mentors to high school employees. You can expect to work in fields like food and beverage, guest services, property operations, catering and events, sales and marketing, or hospitality management.

 

You’ll have the chance to interact with guests directly, learn about the behind-the-scenes operations of a major resort, attend staff meetings, and discuss career options with industry professionals and mentors. This can be a great opportunity for you to gain hands-on experience and explore different career paths available in the diverse hospitality field.


Cost: A $200 academy fee is charged for the students accepted into the program.

Location: Florida Gulf Coast University, Fort Myers, FL

Application Deadline: Applications typically close in May.

Dates: The program normally typically runs in mid-June. The 2024 program ran from June 9 to June 13.

Eligibility: Current high school sophomores or juniors at least 16 years old and recommended by their teacher or guidance counselor can apply.


The Hospitality Business Academy is a competitive four-day camp at the Florida Gulf Coast University, combining academic training with more traditional internship activities. This program is designed specifically for ambitious high school students who want to be industry leaders in hospitality.

 

You’ll stay on the FGCU campus to get familiar with the ins and outs of university life and also at various hotels. You’ll attend classes and trainings, participate in mock interviews, work in real hospitality-based businesses, and attend Tablescape planning sessions. You can view the 2023 agenda here. This program is short but intense and you’ll be able to gain both hard skills and soft skills for future jobs and college admissions. You might also gain a new passion for different aspects of the hospitality industry.


Cost: $500. Need-based scholarships are available.

Location: Hilton College at the University of Houston, Houston, TX

Application Deadline: Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the slots are filled.

Dates: June 17–June 20, 2024 | July 15–July 18, 2024

Eligibility: All high school students are eligible to apply.


This summer camp by the University of Houston offers many of the same benefits and opportunities of a traditional internship but in the form of an intensive, 4-day experience. You’ll have the chance to visit Hilton College and explore a variety of hospitality careers.

 

During the program, you’ll get to tour top hospitality destinations, meet with leading industry professionals, take classes, and participate in work experience activities like preparing meals in the state-of-the-art student kitchen. You will also get to learn more about their undergraduate hospitality program and college, as well as experience a taste of university life by interacting with Hilton College students, faculty, and staff, and touring the UH campus.

 

Cost: $1,500. Scholarships are available.

Location: Penn State University campus, University Park, PA

Application Deadline: Applications are due by the end of May each year. The 2024 due date was May 24. Scholarship applications are due by early May each year.

Dates: July 14–July 19, 2024

Eligibility: Applicants must:

  • Be rising high school juniors or seniors during the summer program offered.

  • Be in good academic standing in their high school.

 

The COYHL Summer Program is a six-day program for high school rising juniors and seniors to learn and experience a mini-hospitality program. While working with your team, you will learn about college life at University Park, sample what a college course may look like, learn from renowned faculty, and meet hospitality management majors. Through presentations, hands-on experience, guest speakers, software simulations, and more, this program will introduce you to the broad range of the hospitality industry, to the major employers, and to the trends that influence this competitive industry.


During the program, you’ll learn what it takes to succeed in different hospitality enterprises, learn from Penn State Hospitality Management faculty and students, visit various hospitality businesses, Penn State’s University Park campus, interact with industry people who are alumni of the Penn State School of Hospitality Management, and receive a digital badge for your completion of the Penn State COYHL Summer Program.

 

You can sign up to receive more information about the 2025 program here and you can learn all about the 2024 program here.


Looking for an immersive internship experience?


Check out Ladder Internships!


Ladder Internships is a selective, virtual internship program where students work with startups and nonprofits from around the world! The startups range across a variety of industries. As part of their internship, each student will work on a real-world project that is of genuine need to the startup they are working with, and present their work at the end of their internship. In addition to working closely with their manager from the startup, each intern will also work with a Ladder Coach throughout their internship. Apply now!


One other option — Lumiere Research Scholar Program

If you would like to participate in a rigorous research program open to high schoolers, you should also consider applying to the Lumiere Research Scholar Program, a selective online high school program for students 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.


Also check out the Lumiere Research Inclusion Foundation, a non-profit research program for talented, low-income students.


 

Elise is a writer for Lumiere and a graduate of the University of Montana School of Law. She began writing for Lumiere in 2024 to help connect high school students to research opportunities. Lumiere is a selective research program where students work 1-1 with a research mentor to develop an independent research paper.


Image Source: Southern Hospitality Internship Program logo

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