Student Success: Lessons in Leadership

When Danielle Whitaker first started applying to Micro-Internships, she had specific goals in mind. The mass communications major hoped to get experience, build her writing portfolio, and maybe add some new connections to her network. Across her five Micro-Internships, these goals have all been accomplished. What she didn’t expect, however, was to get a front row seat to a leadership style that she now emulates as editor in chief of The Today, the student paper at Colorado State University-Pueblo.

Quality Communication

When asked about her Micro-Internship experiences, the first thing Danielle had to say was that they were all fantastic. The primary reason why, she said, was the strong communication.  

“Micro-internships provide you with clear timelines. As a busy student with quite a bit on my plate… knowing exactly when they need something by is a big plus for me. It allows me to manage my time in an effective way.” Danielle compared her Micro-Internships to a non-Parker Dewey internship she’s currently engaged in, saying of the traditional internship, “it’s very different as far as not having a clear finish date. I feel a lot more uncertainty regarding timelines and how to navigate it.”

Danielle also appreciates the remote nature of Micro-Internships and how they allow her to interact with professionals across the country. She shared, “I feel like with Parker Dewey, you have to have really great communication skills since the people that you’re working with may not be anywhere near you… I’ve been able to make so many connections in so many different places because of it.”

The flexibility associated with Micro-Internships' short timelines as well as the fact that all opportunities are paid have also been key factors in Danielle’s success, which she made sure to emphasize. 

“Knowing that I can dedicate the time that’s needed while being compensated fairly, especially as a student, is huge for me.”

Danielle went on to share that she was engaged in and completed two of her Micro-Internships at the same time, while also balancing school and a separate job. She shared, “I wouldn’t have been able to do that if it wasn’t for the incredible level of communication and flexibility that comes with Parker Dewey Micro-Internships.”

 

Applying what she’s learned

Danielle’s Micro-Internship experiences have benefitted her both as a writer and a leader. Not only is she a stronger journalist for her experiences, but she’s also started applying her new ability to write under deadline to her classwork, sharing, “I’ll even time myself now when I’m doing assignments for school to see how fast I can put together a quality piece of work.”

It hasn’t just been Danielle’s academics that have been positively impacted by her Micro-Internship experiences, but also her extracurricular involvement. Danielle recalled, “I had a Micro-Internship before I even started on the school paper, and that experience helped me a lot getting involved with that. Because I’d already done it before, it wasn’t as scary.”

Fast forward to now, and Danielle is running the paper as its editor in chief, using the leadership lessons she gleaned from her Micro-Internships as a guide. One of her supervisors in particular has had a profound impact on her leadership style. Danielle recalled that he was able to lead while maintaining genuine friendly relationships, and that his leadership has been her guide for managing The Today. 

“I had never run a newsroom before and really try to be that positive leader I saw him be… Having that example has helped so much.”

 

Career Direction

In addition to building an impressive writing portfolio, Danielle has also determined career goals based on her Micro-Internship experiences. She spoke of how one experience in particular inspired her. “My work with [organization] opened my eyes to what exactly I want to be doing within media communication. I had never done an article like that before and it was such a fun challenge. I realized that that’s something I want to continue after graduation.”

When asked more about the article, she shared her genuine enthusiasm for reporting, saying, “Reporting is what calls to me. Getting to really know a subject and make sure that voices are heard is something that I have a passion for, and it’s developed even more now that I’ve learned how to write for journalism venues.”

Danielle is continuing to build her writing portfolio with Micro-Internships and will graduate in the summer of 2023, when she will be looking for full-time opportunities to do reporting, ideally at a magazine or other print source that would allow her to connect with real people and share their stories. 

 

Advice

Danielle encourages companies who haven’t already to consider posting a Micro-Internship.

“There are so many students just like me that want to dip their toe in the water, and Parker Dewey is the perfect place.”

When asked what makes a project stand out to her, she said that any opportunity that describes a willingness to help the Micro-Intern grow is an immediate eye-catcher. Danielle knows she already has a lot of skills to bring to a project, but shared, “Whenever I see a posting that says they’re willing to help me learn something that I may be a bit shaky on, I immediately want to apply for that opportunity.”

For her fellow students, Danielle encourages honesty and authenticity in their Micro-Internship applications. “Don’t be afraid to share what you know, or what you don’t. In a lot of ways this is a mutual learning experience, and should be treated as such.”

As the interview came to a close, Danielle reflected on the experience, confidence, and portfolio she’s been able to build through her Micro-Internship experiences. “I’ve gotten to write about so many things I care about through Parker Dewey. I very much recommend it to anyone looking to build up their portfolio.”

 


Could you use exceptional writing skills like Danielle's for a project at your company? Learn how to access similar talent with a Micro-Internship.