The life of a graduate student is a busy one. In addition to their academic load, they are often also balancing some sort of assistantship, fellowship, research, or perhaps even a full-time job that’s covering tuition costs. Hopefully, these opportunities are directly related to the students’ ultimate career goals, but if they’re not, it can be challenging to find time for additional experiences that are. Fortunately, Micro-Internships are available to both undergraduate and graduate students, and some projects may even benefit from or require the advanced-level skills that graduate students possess. This was the case for a Micro-Internship recently completed by Ashley Rodriguez, an MBA student at Florida International University (FIU).
An Accessible Option
Ashley, who in addition to being an MBA student, is also a Senior Coordinator of the Humanities Edge Program at FIU, is no stranger to the traditional internship model. In fact, part of her role is managing internships for FIU students in the humanities. When she first heard about Micro-Internships from the FIU Honors College (one of our proud Parker Dewey partners) she was intrigued by the short-term, flexible nature of the projects. As she researched more to see how the platform could support her humanities students, she realized the model was also applicable for her and her needs as an MBA student.
“I think the model works well because they’re short-term. Micro-Internships allow students to improve in multiple areas and diversify their skill sets. Students like me can even do it during a break and it doesn’t interfere with their graduate or undergraduate studies.”
Eliminating Geographic Barriers
One particular element of Micro-Internships that worked well for Ashley's situation was that most Micro-Internships are remote. Ashley works for FIU remotely from Maryland, and was excited when she realized that she could engage with companies from across the country via Micro-Internships.
“My Micro-internship gave me the opportunity to work in a field that was not available to me due to geographic reasons. I certainly couldn’t have commuted to Connecticut from Maryland. Being remote made the opportunity possible and now I have a connection with a provider in my field that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
An Opportunity to Test
Ashley’s Micro-Internship caught her attention as an opportunity to apply something she had been exposed to in her MBA classes to the work she was already engaged in through her full-time role. Ashley shared, “In my program, I recently took a class on data analytics and visualization, and it really sparked my interest in that area. Loving that experience and that class is what led me to look into Power BI.”
Ashley also recalled that after learning what Power BI was, she started seeing it more often, especially in articles about how higher education institutions are using it to make informed decisions about everything from recruitment to fund allocation. That’s when she came across a Micro-Internship that involved using Power BI to visualize relationships in survey data from higher education institutions. Ashley saw the project as an opportunity to test herself, a new type of work, and Power BI’s applications and capabilities.
“I had a baseline knowledge, but having this specific project gave me a focus to conduct my own research about Power BI and learn how to do it.”
In addition to a test, she also saw the project as an opportunity to grow, highlighting that it was a learning experience, and that she even took time to complete Power BI learning modules through Microsoft that helped her become even more familiar with the tool - something her schedule wouldn’t have allowed for during the academic semester.
“It was a very different experience working with survey data, because the platform didn’t recognize the relationships as easily. Even though I wasn’t familiar with the specifics, I gave myself a shot because I had the time to be able to do that during winter break, and that’s something I wouldn’t have been able to do if it was a whole semester.”
Ashley also felt confident in her ability to take on the challenge, because Parker Dewey’s application process had already proved to her supervisor that she was capable.
“I already knew that I could do a Power BI template, and I had demonstrated that baseline level of familiarity in my short-answer application response.”
Thanks to this combination of remote flexibility, the short-term nature over winter break, and the confidence instilled by the application process, Ashley now has new skills, an expanded network, and evidence of both on her resume.
Advice for Companies
Ashley encourages more companies to post these types of opportunities, because she knows firsthand from her role at Florida International University that students are looking for accessible ways to engage potential employers.
“This is a great opportunity to help students become familiar with your company. If possible, post it as a remote opportunity, because that access is important. You never know if that’s the student that will make an important future contribution to your company. Micro-Internships are a great way to build a pipeline for your organization’s long term goals and needs.”
Advice for Students and Recent Graduates
With her own Micro-Internship experience under her belt, Ashley is excited to promote the platform to the students she serves in her full-time role. When asked about the advice she will share with them as well as fellow graduate students, Ashley’s immediate response was a short, but simple, “do it!”, before expanding.
“It’s a good way to progress in your career. It allowed me to learn a new skill. If you have a baseline level of experience with something, this is a great way to build on it.”
Whether you're looking to build your talent pipeline by engaging first-year students, or access experienced graduate students like Ashley, it's easy with Micro-Internships!