This post was originally published on CollegiateParent.com.
It's well known that internships are an important part of your student’s career development process during the college years. Internships provide many benefits including the opportunity to explore potential career paths, gain exposure to new fields and industries, acquire marketable skills, gain valuable work experience, and begin building a professional network.
In recent years, the concept of a “micro-internship” has emerged.
A micro-internship is similar to a traditional internship except they're shorter in duration (typically 1–4 weeks) and are often project- or task-based. Some examples include producing social media content, generating and qualifying sales leads, and conducting market research.
While micro-internships predate the COVID-19 pandemic, the current situation has accelerated the development of these opportunities.
Advantages of Micro-Internships
In addition to the benefits of a traditional internship, micro-internships have several extra advantages that are highly desirable.
1. Try Before You Buy
Through micro-internships, your student can explore multiple industries and organizations before investing their time in a full 10-week summer internship. By focusing on several different micro-internships between September and May, your student can get the most out of their next summer internship.
2. Flexibility and Timing
Micro-internships are available throughout the year, so your student doesn’t have to wait until summer but can look for opportunities during winter break, spring break, and even on weekends.
In response to the pandemic, most colleges have modified their classes and many students have adapted by taking a gap year or gap semester or by reducing their class load. Students may also have more time on their hands because of fewer extracurricular and social activities.
3. Academic Planning and Career Trajectory
Like traditional internships, micro-internships can help your student with their academic planning, choosing a major and minor, and also understanding what career paths are available to them given their course of study.
4. Remote and Virtual
Because many micro-internships are project-based, they're ideally suited for the remote or virtual work scenarios we're all facing at this time. This is about making the most of the current situation.
How to Find a Micro-Internship
To find a micro-internship, your student can use many of the same resources they'd use to search for a traditional internship including their career center, alumni association, LinkedIn, and public job boards.
One word of caution here. There are several major discrepancies in the way micro-internships are listed on public job boards. You can read my blog post, Using Major Job Search Sites to Find Internships — Remote, Virtual and Micro-Internships, to learn more about navigating these discrepancies.
Another resource is Parker Dewey, a Chicago-based company specializing in micro-internships that's been featured by WSJ.com, CNBC, The New York Times, Forbes, Bloomberg, and CNN.com just to name a few. It takes only a few minutes for “Career Launchers” to create a profile and there is no fee.
Finally, your student can propose a micro-internship to previous employers or alumni who work in various organizations. This isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. Everyone has more work than they can possibly do in a day even in a remote work environment. Your student has time and flexibility on their side. Put those two ingredients together, add some creativity and your student might find their most valuable internship yet.
Encourage Your Student!
Enthusiastically encourage your student to explore micro-internships opportunities that they find interesting and take advantage of the many benefits they can provide.
In a related CollegiateParent blog post, Suzanne Shaffer reminds us that “We need to recognize the fine line between providing encouragement and advice and inappropriate involvement.” This important observation applies to all aspects of your student’s career development process.