Posted by: Tom Ross | March 6, 2014

Rocket Science

Click on the title above to view on the CTE Central Blog website.

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Speaking of career development activities, what’s the difference between an apprenticeship and an internship?

An apprentice is a person who is learning a trade from a skilled employer, having agreed to work for a fixed period at low wages. Remember the verb ‘apprendre’ from your French class? It can mean both to learn and to teach.


An internship, by comparison, is exploratory in nature. An intern is a student or recent graduate undergoing supervised practical training. It is on-the-job training with no strings attached either to the student or the employer.  A student can intern in any number of industries or locations to see what feels right. The added bonus is that employers often do offer them jobs if they are interested.

The U.S. Department of Labor describes an internship as a hands-on extension of the educational experience in which a student or recent graduate gains real-world immersion into a chosen industry under the direct supervision of not just an employer but an effective internship manager.


Students think internships provide realistic learning experiences. 58.9 percent of students think gaining experience and building a portfolio is the most important aspect of an internship experience, according to a report from InternMatch.

InternshipCom, a division of CareerArc Group, is also a resource for students that helps them through the whole process of finding the right internship with guidance in marketing themselves, preparing for the interview, creating resumes and cover letters, and what to do once they’re in the workplace. Students can explore internship opportunities by industry, company, or by location.


And for an out-of-this-world, Southern California example of internship opportunities for high school graduates, you can go just south of Los Angeles to Hawthorne, home of SpaceX. Here the internships really ARE rocket science. (If you haven’t seen what the Grasshopper can do, prepare to be amazed.) SpaceX’s goal is “to enable people to live on other planets.”  How cool is that?

For more information on internship opportunities for high schools students, check out Biocom and the Scripps Research Institute as examples. For internships in your area, go to’s guide by location.

And for further reading, go to Pro Publica Journalism, the Huffington Post articles by Ashley Mosley of InternMatch, and the New York Times for the latest on summer interns as well as both sides of the story.


  1. The latest internship information: JPL and NASA undergraduate programs:

    Internships at JPL:
    Internships at NASA Centers nationwide:

  2. […] Internships as career development activities used to be exploratory by nature. Prospective interns were expected to come to the interview armed with the desire to learn and a battery of soft skills including knowing how to communicate, show respect for co-workers, and manage time. And how to dress for the occasion. […]

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