Internships allow students to explore careers, gain work experience, and make professional connections. However, during the pandemic, many traditional internship opportunities were not viable options for students and employers. As a result, microinternships have increased in their popularity and have become an innovative way to help students with their career development.

What are microinternships?

Microinternships are short-term, paid professional opportunities that can be completed year-round. Students gain valuable work experience, while providing immediate support to potential employers. Both the employers and students benefit by having an opportunity to do actual work with one another before committing to an internship or full-time role.

They cannot be taken for academic credit and are not meant to replace internship experiences that many colleges require. However, microinternships allow students to utilize their classroom knowledge to complete professional assignments while gaining experience and demonstrating their transferable skills such as problem-solving and communication to employers.

Identifying microinternship opportunities

Career Services provides a link to a microinternship webpage, in conjunction with Parker Dewey. This site provides students with a database of projects that can be completed as students have time, and without having to work around their class schedule. For example, some of the projects posted currently include developing a social media content calendar remotely for an organization in New York City, and comparing products and services offered by a similar organization for research and product development purposes. 

Organizations in the database vary by industry and can range from Fortune 100 companies to emerging startups, and cross departments such as sales and marketing teams, technology, human resources, and finance and accounting. So students from all industries are encouraged to explore the postings to identify projects for which they may want to participate.

Microinternships are gaining popularity because they are based on the kind of work that an organization needs to be done. A project may take a few weeks or a few months. Regardless, microinternships allow students the flexibility to complete paid or unpaid projects while aligning them with their availability.

Many students will be able to participate in microinternships because they do not need to be completed in the employers facility, which makes them accessible to a wider base of students. They also eliminate the geographical and economic barriers for students who may not be able to afford to move or live in another city or state for their experience.

“Internships benefit both the employer and the student, as the employer is able to provide hands-on educational opportunities and the students are able to show off what they have learned at ISU,” said Megan Patterson, Career Services Internship Connections Coordinator. “Allowing students the opportunity to shine in places where they may not have been able to before is what makes microinternships at Illinois State so special.”