Work Experience

Work experience combines classroom instruction with paid, part-time student employment. Students work a minimum of 3 hours per week and meet with a Work Experience coordinator on scheduled dates, usually once a week.

Students in their junior and senior years of high school may enroll. Students may find employment on their own or request assistance from the coordinator (although employment cannot be guaranteed). Work Experience qualifies for Career Technical Education and/or Elective credits towards the graduation requirements.

Businesses participating in the work experience program must establish an employer-employee relationship with students and comply with labor laws and regulations concerning Workers' Compensation Insurance, Social Security, and income taxes.

Exploratory Experience

Exploratory Experience is an unpaid, off-campus course that offers students at any grade level the opportunity to explore specific career interests through direct observation and hands-on experience.   Students work/volunteer/intern (unpaid) a minimum of 3 hours per week and meet with a Work Experience coordinator on scheduled dates, usually once a week.

Professionals or individuals with established expertise mentor students in the workplace. Students also meet regularly with the Work Experience coordinator for related instruction.

Placement is limited to opportunities that are developed through PAUSD and excludes community organizations such as clubs, private lessons, and non-career focused service. Students may enroll for the Exploratory Experience course after they have met with the school coordinator and a suitable post is located. Class time is arranged by the coordinator. Exploratory Experience qualifies for Career Technical Education and/or Elective credits towards the graduation requirement. 

Hours worked interning/volunteering can also be applied towards the Presidential Service Award.  

Work Experience Program at Lockheed Martin

The Solar and Astrophysics department of the Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Center has collaborated with Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) for over 30 years to offer a Specialized Work Experience Program.

The lab provides a rich research environment with an informal and relaxed atmosphere that encourages creativity. Students are given training for their projects and any necessary help required to complete them. Questions and open communication are encouraged. It is understood that students' background is limited, however, students are expected to establish and maintain a professional work attitude. They will be considered co-workers and share responsibilities and concerns for projects. Self-motivation, dependability, and reliability in students are essential.  


Students applying for this extremely competitive internship should be aware that they are making a major, long-term commitment. Lockheed understands that schoolwork is a priority, but they do not expect extracurricular activities to interfere with work at the lab. Time off for vacation or other business may be permitted by the student's supervisor with prior notification. Student interns will work:

  • 6-8 hours per week during the school year
  • 40 hours per week during the summers
  • One school year and the two surrounding summers
  • Internships begin in June

Students are paid.

Lockheed Martin buildings are located on Porter Drive in Palo Alto, midway between Gunn and Paly High Schools.

Applying to the Program

Students undergo a rigorous screening process. They are interviewed multiple times by PAUSD and Lockheed staff.

To be considered, students must posses:

  • GPA of 3.5 or better
  • Recommendation by a recent math or science teacher
  • Qualities of self-motivation, dependability, and reliability

Students apply during their junior year. 

The application process begins at the start of second semester.  Exact dates will be listed in Gunn and Paly's Daily Bulletins. Selected students begin working at Lockheed in June.

If you have questions, contact Theresa McDermott, Work Experience Coordinator, at or 650-833-4239.