Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Law, Government, Politics, International Relations

Best Summer Programs for High School Students: Law, Government, Politics, International Relations

Summer is the perfect time to explore your academic interests. As part of your college application, activities that help demonstrate your intellectual curiosity and commitment to an area of study (typically, the one you might pursue in college), are extremely beneficial. 

The following programs are some of our favorites for students interested in government, politics, law and IR.

The United Nations Association of Greater Boston’s Summer Institute in Global Leadership offers week-long Model UN programs for students from all over the world to work together and address global issues. Learn about global issues, build skills for life and leadership, and collaborate with students from across the world during our week-long Model UN programs! In-person and virtual options.

The Summer Law Institute (SLI) is a five-week, summer law program for students who have just completed their eighth grade school year. The Summer Law Institute pushes rising ninth graders to see themselves as young professionals-in-training. The program exposes them to positive and successful role models, involves them in professional activities, and places them on a path that can lead to the fulfillment of their dreams. Students who complete the SLI are eligible to apply to our 4-year College Bound program.

The New York University High School Law Institute (HSLI is an Academic Year Program*) is a student-run organization that serves talented and motivated high school students throughout New York City. Alongside a sister program at Columbia Law School, they offer free, yearlong academic programming in constitutional law, criminal law, and speech and debate on Saturdays from 10 AM to 1 PM. Ideal HSLI students are those who recognize the impact of the legal system, wish to learn more about how it concretely impacts society, and are preparing themselves to serve and advocate for others. 

Internships

The Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate is dedicated to educating the public about the important role of the Senate in our government, encouraging participatory democracy, invigorating civil discourse, and inspiring the next generation of citizens and leaders to engage in the civic life of their communities. Interns will enhance the visitor experience and communicate the Institute’s mission. 

The Temple of Understanding internship program provides individuals with a hands-on learning experience of the work of the United Nations for four and a half intensive weeks. Students often discover their passion for a career in foreign affairs and related fields. Applicants are from different parts of the United States, as well as many other countries. Students accepted into this program have the opportunity to meet with different Missions and NGOs for discussions based on their specific questions and interests. Applicants are from different parts of the United States, as well as many other countries, and must be 17 years old by June 20 of the given Internship year. 

Onero Institute Virtual Teams. ​The Onero Institute produces high-level content on international affairs topics in new and creative ways. They develop projects specially designed for social media platforms to better engage young people on global issues and to bring credible content to an increasingly important space. Join the Virtual Engagement Team to take part in this unique area of today’s international discourse. If you would like to join but need more experience developing such projects, participate in the Virtual Engagement Program (VEP) to build up your skills in graphic design, concise writing, teamwork, and research.

Check out Teens in Politics! Founded by a student in NYC. 

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Lab Internships for High School Students

Lab Internships for High School Students

Re-sharing a post from Josh Rabinovich of Warp Drive Tutors (check them out for all of your STEM tutoring needs!) on how to approach summer internships while in high school. Although we don’t really know what summer 2021 will look like yet, now is the time for sophomores, juniors, and even graduating seniors to start planning. Many students seek to gain lab experience. Thank you for these insights, Josh!

First, if you have not started looking and the end of the school year is rapidly approaching, you needn’t fear that all of the potentially good internships are taken by now. They are not. In fact, you will find a plethora of availability providing you know where to look and you have something tangible to offer the lab you approach. But to begin, you need to have an understanding of what will be expected of you and what you should expect from an internship.

Of course, the first question is, will you get paid? And the answer is no, not if you want to get something valuable from your experience. Labs are usually run on shoestring budgets, determined by grant funding, and it is tough out there in grant land. So any money that goes out will only go out to that which proves immediately valuable to the lab, and as you have no understanding of DNA ligation and cloning methodologies (though you will by the time your summer is up) you have, sorry to put it this way, no immediate value to the lab. If you do wind up getting paid, it is because they assign you something nobody else wants to do, like cleaning up and organizing the cold room. Do you want to spend your summer cleaning up the cold room? Bleh.

So now that we have discussed what they will expect from you, let’s look at what you should expect from your internship. If all goes well, you will emerge with two very valuable assets, and these are a) actual lab experience, which will help if you want to work in a lab in college, not to mention help you decide if you want to pursue science, and b) a letter of recommendation. When I say actual lab experience, understand that after a very short amount of time you will be given your own project, which you will be expected to work on independently and keep detailed notes about. What you will not do is “shadow” someone, at least not for very long. Shadowing someone is not helping them, it is just being a pain! So you will be shown some basics, and then given some legit work the lab needs to have done. And if you are working in a molecular lab, you should expect that your work will include handling DNA, and using recombinant DNA protocols. In fact, you might want to make sure these are things you will do in advance.

None of this, of course, is meant to scare you off, just to tell you what you are looking at. So how do you get an internship? Look at the university’s website for the graduate department in whatever discipline interests you, ie cell biology, laser physics, etc and then look at the different labs and see which might appeal to you. Email the director of that lab and say you are a high school student and would like to volunteer over the summer (you may have to send this more than once). Also, you will need to have taken an AP course in the general field that the lab is involved in, so if you want to get some cloning in, you will want to have taken AP Biology. You may also want to consider that some labs will expect you to put in some pretty hefty hours. Not all, but some definitely will.

Lastly, when do you ask for the letter of recommendation? The answer is, as soon as you have left the lab. Remember, the most important thing a letter reader wants to see in a letter of rec is how well the letter writer knows the person about whom he/she is writing. So if you wait until 3 months later, the person writing the letter will have forgotten almost everything about you and your letter will read “Jane worked in the lab and everyone liked her. She accomplished a lot”. This won’t help you. Try and get the letter as soon as possible after you leave, when the person you worked with will have a clear memory of what you did, and what your success and failures were.

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