In any regular year, landing a summer internship, first full-time role, or part-time gig can be tough. In 2020, tough was only an understatement—especially for those already disadvantaged by geographic location, a lack of professional networks, and general inaccessibility to new opportunities.
Just as students and recent graduates were challenged to find new ways to network and gain experience, the world of internships and recruiting was also met with a need to adapt. And at Parker Dewey, we’ve seen firsthand just how impactful remote Micro-Internships have become over this last year—even as recent graduates entered into the worst job market in over a decade.
Our 2020 destination survey was designed to help us understand how Micro-Internships prepare students and recent graduates for future opportunities, support skill-building, and build connections across different industries. The results illustrated that in a year of uncertainty, Micro-Internships continue to:
- Expand access and create pathways for individuals who traditionally face more barriers to and in the workforce.
- Help students and recent graduates explore areas of interest before committing to an internship or full-time role—and thus promoting higher retention within companies.
- Support students and recent graduates in honing core skills, like communication, critical thinking, problem solving, and general work ethic.
Read on for a full breakdown of the survey results.
Breaking down the demographics
We sent our 2020 destination survey to the Career Launchers who completed Micro-Internships through the Parker Dewey platform during the 2019-2020 academic year. Of our respondents,
- ~80% identified as female, 19% identified as male, and 1.4% identified as non-binary or third-gender. Though women are underrepresented in the workforce, they are frequently selected for Micro-Internships in various fields—an important note, as NACE reports that 81% of unpaid interns identify as women. (Micro-Internships, though, are always paid—creating equitable opportunities for all students and recent grads.)
- 79% identify as being part of an underrepresented racial or ethnic group, and/or the LGBTQ community.
- 55% are between ages 18-21, while 44% are between ages 22-29 (representing recent graduates, career changers, and a growing segment of adults returning to the classroom utilizing our platform).
How do Micro-Internships shape career outcomes?
Micro-Internships help students and recent graduates gain valuable experience, explore different industries and companies, and hone their core skills—perks that lead to better retention and stronger candidates for companies. Despite the challenges of the pandemic, 88% of respondents who graduated in 2020 are employed. This represents an almost 25% higher employment rate than all of 2019 college graduates as reported by NACE.1
And while 88% is lower than the 96% we have seen in the past, we expect that this is the result of delayed hiring processes by some companies given the unusual recruiting cycle this year.
When asked about job fit and career outcomes,
- 76% feel confident in their current jobs
- 60% are already working in their desired field
- 79% feel supported in the workplace.
Furthermore, with an increasing focus on core skills (e.g. communication, problem solving, adaptability, etc.) by employers—as evidenced by the updated NACE Career Readiness Competencies—recent graduates who have completed Micro-Internships are better prepared for their full-time roles.
The top skills that respondents cited as core to their job responsibilities:
- Oral and written communication
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
- Digital technology, professionalism, and work ethic
And the top three core skills that respondents honed by participating in Micro-internships include:
- Oral and written communication
- Professionalism and work ethic
- Problem-solving and critical thinking
The Micro-Internship experience
We asked our Micro-Intern alumni for additional feedback about their Micro-Internship experiences.
- Short-term projects help Career Launchers (and managers) feel more confident about longer-term opportunities—even remote ones. In fact, 87% said they feel more prepared to work remotely and independently after completing projects.
- Students and recent graduates expect and deserve compensation. 82% reported that pay was important and they valued the opportunity to get compensated for their work—aligning with what we’ve written on why Parker Dewey fundamentally believes in paying students and recent graduates for their work. Furthermore, NACE research illustrates that paid opportunities “benefit students in their job search in multiple ways, at least in terms of the first job post-graduation: more job offers, higher starting salaries, and a shorter search.”
In the words of Micro-Interns
While the numbers themselves tell a story, here’s what respondents had to say about their Micro-Internship experiences.
On the benefits of a short-term, remote assignment:
“The 'micro' element is huge. Being able to drop in and get a real experience and then move on to something else was really meaningful to me. The pay was also much needed in the terrible job market in the wake of COVID-19.”
“I enjoyed that I was able to have a primarily remote internship that also had in-person meetings. It was great that I was able to really develop my personal and career skills in a short amount of time and make a meaningful impact.”
"I was happily surprised at truly how integrated I was as part of the team, just from these few short weeks of doing a project part-time. I was able to build genuine relationships with my managers and supervisors and we’ve even talked about continuing my involvement this year. That’s something I definitely didn’t expect from a short internship.”2
On skill development:
“It gave me a chance to take initiative and offer a company my skills while I was searching for a job. My Micro-Internship also helped boost my confidence during job interviews.”
“Completing my Micro-Internship made me realize that I made the right career choice! I learned a lot and gained a ton of experience to increase my knowledge for social media marketing. I also will be continuing to work for [company] this summer!”
On building authentic relationships:
“I really enjoyed the networking aspect of the Micro-Internship—I was able to make connections with the company that I completed the project for. I also liked how it was remote, and for the most part it was very independent.”
“It wasn’t until I got to actually work with those companies that I actually felt like I knew what I could expect. For me, the companies I felt more connected to were those that I was more involved with early on.”2
On how Micro-Internships create equitable pathways:
“I’m very interested in sales but I don’t have as much experience with that yet. Working on Micro-Internships meant there were less barriers: I could jump right into a project and I got to know what their expectations were sooner instead of being filtered out by my GPA.”2
“Going through the interview process and hearing, 'Okay, you have an MBA, but you don’t have any experience,’ I had to figure out where I will get experience and in a quick way. When I looked at Parker Dewey, I saw there were a lot of different places I could go.”2
The main takeaway from our survey: Micro-Internships are small experiences with a big impact. They are a valuable experiential learning tool for students and recent graduates, leading to positive career outcomes. For organizations dedicated to increasing diversity within their talent pipeline, Micro-Internships provide a valuable experiential recruiting opportunity to assess a candidate’s skills.
1 It should be noted that as NACE’s data is based on the class of 2019, we won’t know the full impact of the pandemic on college graduate employment for another year.
2 Quotes pulled from a February post, "Student Voices: Using Micro-Internships for Recruiting."