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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.

The Covid-19 pandemic is having a major impact on all aspects of the economy including college students seeking summer internships. In response, many employers made a shift so that interns, like full-time employees, could work virtually.


In addition to virtual (or remote) internships, "micro internship" gained traction. A micro internship is generally a short-term, discrete project that lasts between 1 week to 1 month. Last spring as many summer internships were being rescinded, some employers, alumni and others created micro internships for college students to gain some professional experience and enhance their resumes.


With so many college students taking classes remotely, delaying graduation, or taking a gap semester or a gap year, micro internships will likely gain in popularity. Internships are not just for summer anymore!

Read "Why Micro Internships Will Be the Next Big Thing"

How to find a remote, virtual, or micro internship?

Traditional job search sites such as Indeed.com, Monster.com, and LinkedIn.com are great sources for internship postings. There are currently thousands of opportunities listed on these sites, however, the listings are posted inconsistently.


In many cases, the posting includes the words "virtual" or "remote," but is not tagged on the website as such. When you apply the available filters, many of the internship opportunities do not show up. Also, there are inconsistencies across sites. For example, there is no tag or filter for "micro internship" on Indeed.com, but a quick search for this term shows more than 400 listings. Monster.com only list one.


Should college students use traditional job posting sites to search for internship opportunities even if there are inconsistencies?

Absolutely yes. There is a great opportunity for those who are resourceful and willing to spend the time necessary.

Generally speaking the term “personal branding” is the practice of positioning yourself as a commercial brand. Like Nike, Coke, Apple, you (as a professional) are also a brand. The definition of personal brand varies by industry and profession.

In a 1997 Fast Company article, “The Brand Called You,” Tom Peters coined the phrase “personal branding” and declared, “Starting today you are a brand. You’re every bit as much a brand as Nike, Coke, Pepsi, or the Body Shop.” Peters, a business management expert, is also the co-author of the best selling book, In Search of Excellence, which many consider to be one of the most important business books ever written.

To begin thinking of your professional self as a brand, ask yourself the following questions: What differentiates me as a professional? What qualities and capabilities do I want my colleagues and clients to associate with me as a professional? Do my day-to-day actions support my ideal personal brand?


Your personal brand in the workplace is how you define yourself as a professional and how you convey that definition to others. It is the standard you set and maintain for yourself in your career. The key to an effective personal brand is that your colleagues think of your brand in the same way you think of your brand. There may be a gap between how you define your personal brand and how others perceive it. If a gap exists, you must demonstrate the brand you desire to achieve through you actions.



© 2020 Career Ready Coaching LLC