NACE Career Readiness Competencies: Micro-Internship Impact

    For Career Services professionals, the NACE Career Readiness Competencies are an invaluable tool for understanding the impact of various career activities being completed by students. A variety of programs have evaluated a wide range of experiential education opportunities including on-campus internships, virtual internships, and general education coursework. But how do Micro-Internships impact students’ career readiness?

    Since the beginning of May 2022, Parker Dewey has been asking Career Launchers (i.e. students and recent graduates) who recently completed Micro-Internships to reflect on the impact of these experiences. These questions are based on a framework as defined by NACE.  The chart below illustrates students' perceptions of how they have improved in these areas as a result of their Micro-Internship experiences.


    NACE Competencies_January 2024


    Comprehensive Impact

    The data is being collected on an ongoing basis, but as of this update (January 2024), feedback showcases that even these short-term experiences (generally 10-40 hours in duration) have a significant impact on students’ perceptions of their career readiness. In fact, as a result of their Micro-Internship(s), 98.9% reported that they either improved or built confidence in at least one competency, and 87% of respondents felt that they improved in 3 or more of the competences. For every single one of the 8 Career Competencies, more than 55% of the responses reported improvement in that ability.


    Areas of Most Improvement
    For Career Launchers looking to build skills related to Communication, Professionalism, Career & Self Development, Critical Thinking, and Technology in particular, the survey results indicate that Micro-Internships are a great opportunity. Considering solely improvement as opposed to a combination of improvement and confidence-building, three quarters or more of responses indicated that they improved skills related to these competencies. Considering the direct connection and communication Micro-Interns have with companies, these reports aren't surprising, nor are they insignificant in terms of the positive impact these communication skills will likely have in Micro-Interns' future workplaces. 

    NACE Competencies_Areas of Most Improvement_January 2024

    "Through the experience, I drastically improved my professional communication skills."

    - Former Micro-Intern


    The Importance of Confidence

    Even for those students who may not have recognized improved skills, most found an increase in confidence.  This result is significant as researchers have found that confidence can have a significant impact on career success. When rounded to the nearest whole percentage, at least 80% of Career Launchers reported either an improvement in the surveyed areas or an increase in confidence. Further, over 90% of Career Launchers reported improvement or increased confidence related to Career and Self Development, Communication, Critical Thinking, Professionalism, and Technology.

    This confidence applies not only to the NACE competencies, but also to additional technical skills and proficiencies, as is illustrated by the following Micro-Intern quotes:

    “I learned how to make correlations between likely pathogenic variants and clinical information, how to present my treatment recommendations, and gained confidence with both written and verbal communication.”


    "While I already knew about certain professional development tasks like information interviews and how to network, I had never felt confident enough to actually do it before this Micro-Internship."


    "I am now more confident in my ability to independently complete projects in the workplace."


    These results are particularly important when considering that over 80% of Micro-Internships are completed by students from under-represented backgrounds. Many of these students are especially prone to imposter syndrome, a challenge that is being addressed more frequently at career centers including University of Florida, Northwestern, and Georgia Tech. The confidence built through Micro-Internships allow these students another opportunity to combat the ill effects of this phenomenon.


    Implications for Employers
    Employers have repeatedly found a significant mismatch between the competencies that are important and students’ performance in these areas. Based on the NACE Job Outlook 2022 employer survey, Critical Thinking was the competency where there was the greatest difference in employers’ perspective of the level of importance compared to employer perception of students’ proficiency.

    According to Micro-Internship data, over 75% of survey respondents have reported an increase in their critical thinking abilities due to their Micro-Internship, and more than 70% of those who didn't report increased skills, reported enhanced confidence in this area. In total, that's over 93% of respondents reporting either increased ability or confidence related to Critical Thinking, and companies using Parker Dewey Micro-Internships, whether for on-demand project support or as part of their longer-term recruiting strategies, are reaping the benefits of these enhanced skills.

    When it comes to engaging new demographics, expanding talent pipelines, and building brand awareness with students, Micro-Internships continue to be a valuable tool. In fact, over 95% of Parker Dewey Student Sentiment Survey respondents rated “real, paid work experience with an organization” as their preferred method of engaging with employers, and 98.7% of Micro-Interns reporting they are likely to recommend Parker Dewey to a friend. 

    For companies in need of more reasons to start using Micro-Internships, look no further than these quotes from Micro-Interns:

    "You should absolutely post a Micro-Internship. It gives new aspiring talent the chance to show off their abilities."


    "This is a great way to recruit new talent. It's kind of like test driving a car before you buy it. If the fit is not right, you just return it. It costs employers a lot of money to hire someone. This way they can get to know the person better before they hire them."


    "Micro-Internships are an educational opportunity for students and early graduates to hone their skills while lessening the work burden for your staff. A true win/win."


    Those quotes alone highlight that Parker Dewey Micro-Interns are insightful early career professionals that would be a benefit to any team!

    We look forward to continuing to provide updates about students’ perceptions of their career readiness. For a webinar overview of the above data, check out our corresponding webinar.

    If you don’t offer Micro-Internships to your campus community, click here to learn more about how Parker Dewey can help.

    If you have projects on your professional to-do list that could help Career Launchers increase their skill levels and build confidence in these abilities, post them on Parker Dewey today or join us for a demo at our next informational webinar.