Internships are vital for students to secure jobs after graduation.
But many low-income students can’t afford to relocate for internships—especially unpaid internships.
Other students lack the connections it takes to secure an internship opportunity or don’t have enough time in their schedule to take on the equivalent of a second job, writes Goldie Blumenstyk for the Chronicle of Higher Education.
That’s why in 2016, Jeff Moss founded Parker Dewey, an online marketplace where students and recent grads can apply to complete short-term, paid projects for employers.
“We believe college-to-career transitions are broken,” Moss told Blumenstyk. Not only do employers tend to only hire interns from certain schools, but the applicant-tracking systems employers use “aren’t really predictive of who’s going to be a good hire,” he adds.
The projects posted on Parker Dewey typically pay $20 to $25 per hour and take between five to 40 hours to complete. Each project posted on the site can be done remotely. Once the project is complete, Parker Dewey asks the employer to evaluate the student’s work and then shares that feedback with its partner college.
The projects posted on the site also exemplify the kinds of tasks grads will likely encounter in entry-level positions, such as organizing a list of conference attendees or identifying top sales prospects in a database.
Moss adds that these “micro-internships” not only democratize the internship process, but also allow students to learn about different types of work with various employers. Plus, he says, micro-internships help students “see the crosswalks” between their studies and future employment.
For example, micro-internships can help students choose a major, explains Elaine Maimon, president of Governors State University. Maimon adds that micro-internships are more manageable for her undergraduate students, many of whom are 25 and older and have additional responsibilities that make traditional internships difficult to fit into their schedules.
But Parker Dewey is just one example of the micro-internship model, and several colleges have implemented similar programs.
For instance, Northeastern University‘s Experience Network allows online master’s and professional-degree students to remotely undertake six-to-eight-week projects for various employers. Though the work is unpaid, the projects typically fulfill a course credit or count toward a class requirement.
And Stanford University‘s Design Summer asks students to identify and design a series of projects during the academic year that they will execute with employers over the summer (Blumenstyk, Chronicle of Higher Education, 1/15).
Growing public concern about the return on investment (ROI) associated with higher education has created pressure for both public and private institutions to assume greater responsibility for students’ post-graduation outcomes. Explore our report for 34 best practices to incorporate meaningful career exploration into the academic curriculum.