Micro-Internships: How to Leverage the Gig Economy to Find Great Young Talent.

I got class credit instead of pay, but that wasn’t the point.

Forbes recently described them like this

They usually consist of 5 to 40 hours of work, and can occur any time of year. They are highly specific, project-based positions, often in arenas like lead generation, content creation, or data entry. » Jeffrey Moss, CEO of Parker Dewey, the organization that pioneered this concept, talked to me recently about the differences between traditional internships and micro-internships, and the benefits for today’s college students. « They are a great way to learn about companies,about different industries, different roles, and a great way for companies to learn about students from different backgrounds.

What we recognized is that there’s an opportunity year round for college students to work on short-term projects. Whereas a typical summer internship may be 8 to 10 weeks over the course of a summer, micro internships are project based. They tend to require anywhere from 5 to 30 or maybe 40 hours in total. They tend to be due anywhere from a few days to a few weeks out,and, they can take place year-round».

HOW DOES THIS KIND OF INTERNSHIP WORK?

We wanted to make it as easy as possible for both sides. We want someone to do competitive research on blah, blah, blah. We want it to kick off on February 28. We need it done March 15.

We think it will take you 20 hours. What happens next is that college students and recent graduates who are on our site will see the project. They have ownership over if they want to apply or not. They might look at a project and say, ‘Oh, I’m in finals week, I don’t have time.

Or, they might look at it and say, ‘Oh, I never thought about a role in the financial services industry, but this looks sort of intriguing. Every one of the college students is on our platform because they want to be. We don’t even allow colleges to require that».

NOT REPLACING THE TRADITIONAL INTERNSHIP

To be clear, we’re not trying to replace the 10-week internship. I get to dip my toe in the water and find that ‘Oh wow, JP Morgan is doing some interesting stuff on tech. Maybe

this is worth me exploring more. The students immediately get it–they can get professional experience.

They can get in the door. They can demonstrate skills and even get paid for it. On the company side, it’s interesting because we have two different stakeholder groups. One is the individual hiring manager, the busy professional.

Their point of pain is, ‘I have too much work on my plate, so maybe I can have a college kid help with some of those projects. ’ These are things that for someone with 5, 10, or 20 years of experience may not be the highest and best use of time, but for a college kid, they’re going to be pretty interested. We provide fixed fee consulting services to our clients. In the words of one financial services organization, we’re like going to a consulting firm.

We’re like going to McKinsey. When that firm works with McKinsey, they don’t have any employment law related interaction with the consultants at McKinsey–the same way they don’t with us. The second thing is that we have no conversion fee. We don’t want a situation where the company says, ‘Oh, I was going to hire Geoff, but I have to go pay someone 20 percent of his first year’s salary.

Those two things get rid of a lot of the risk for companies, and once we explain all those things,the whole conversation changes». Suzan Batamuliza did a micro-internship shortly after graduating with a finance degree from Chicago’s Roosevelt University back in 2015.

THE VIEW FROM A COLLEGE STUDENT

I graduated with a finance degree, but I was never sure what I was going to use it for. So I went to Parker Dewey. I think I must have seen a Facebook post from somebody about it. I could try out different types of work.

My understanding was that you work on a project, see if you like it, get paid for it, then move to the next project, work on it, see if you like it, an so on. I was thinking that this is the best way I can figure out what it is I want to do. I applied for maybe two or three projects that I thought I might be interested in, and one of the projects was with MHolland . I worked in their credit department and I was going to help them with some credit reviews.

A month became three months, and at the end of the three months, they were saying, ‘We like the work you’re doing. You seem to understand everything that is happening. We would like you to interview for a full-time job. ’ And so I ended up becoming a full-time employee.

Without the micro-internship, I would have never had that opportunity to go in, even for a short time, and make the connections and build that network. That is something Parker Dewey did for me. They had always hired experienced professionals. They took a chance on bringing in a student like me, and they taught me pretty much everything.

Micro-internships are allowing companies to take a chance on students. They could easily pick a professional who has done this before and that would probably be easier. But at the end of the day, you want your company to keep growing, so you want to attract talent.

Here’s what he told me

Parker Dewey is doing a great service for the market and for businesses to get access to this type of talent and this type of employment arrangement. It’s really important for students who do not otherwise have opportunities to get in front of these companies. I’ve used them a few times. In all cases, I was looking for more than just a one-and-done project.

I was looking for somebody to work on a temporary, part-time basis, over an extended time period. And, it worked out that way. Of course, one of the benefits is the ‘try before you buy’ situation, so I can get real work done without the commitment of a full internship. Each time I used this service, I was at hyper-growth startups that had no established formal internship program, at least not within the sales organization.

There was no formal mechanism for me to hire an intern, so I got approval to do this on a project basis and managed it myself. We got a great candidate named Tarek. He completed the initial project and did a fantastic job. We were able to have him as a contract employee and work around his school schedule.

INTERNSHIPS IN WAYS NOBODY CONSIDERED

Those are smart, successful companies. Micro-internships seem to be a new and very modern way of doing that. The growing success of micro-internships shows that it absolutely is reshaping things in ways nobody even considered before.


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