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Hands-on experience is crucial to exploring different career options. You may have your heart set on becoming an attorney; however, until you sit in the courtroom, you won’t know for sure. Often times, expectations differ from reality. You need to test different work settings to help you decide what you like and dislike. Here are five ways to gain hands-on experience!

1. Apply for an internship

A growing number of companies and institutions have started to expand their internship programs, happily opening their doors to high school students. The knowledge you’ll acquire is insight that you can definitely build upon should you continue working within whatever industry you choose. Plus, the exposure you receive will likely introduce you to new career possibilities you hadn’t thought of. The perfect opportunity for hands-on experience!

2. Sign up for volunteer opportunities

You don’t have to be fully committed to just one community service project to gain hands-on experience. Try out different places, and note the types of work you enjoy doing. Investigate one-time projects to get a wide variety of experiences.

3. Be selective in the part-time/summer jobs you choose

You can build your exposure to different fields by trying out different occupations. You will also have the opportunity to develop transferable skills that will benefit your resume and employability in the future. Think about working as a camp counselor, day-care center employee, non-profit administrative assistant, or a server in a nursing home. This is just to name a few of the temporary jobs you can land as a high school student!

4. Sign up for a class with a hands-on or after school component

Science classes typically have labs, yearbook may have opportunities to informally mentor younger students, and business electives may involve collaboration with local companies.

5. Think carefully about your extracurriculars

You do not need to add onto your already busy schedule in order to gain hands-on experience. You just need to be thoughtful in the activities you choose. Use your free time wisely; if you aren’t crazy about your schedule, it may be time to reevaluate.


All in all, increasing hands-on experience demonstrates many desirable qualities including maturity, curiosity, and foresight. This will make you an especially great candidate for future employers and college admissions counselors. No matter your passions, hands-on experience may be the step you need to ignite your professional dreams.