Engaging First-Generation Students with Micro-Internships
About this session:
First-generation college students are typically defined as any higher education applicant, attendee, or graduate without parents who have earned a baccalaureate degree themselves. These students often face unique challenges as they navigate their internship and job searches. Despite having the same academic pedigree as their second-generation peers (and through no fault of their own) they are often less connected, less aware of career options, and less likely to be familiar with - and consequently to use - the resources available to help them on their journey.
In this session, we discussed how Micro-Internships offer first-generation students an accessible way to explore career options and see for themselves how they can contribute their skills to various organizations. We also heard directly from a company who has hired multiple first-generation Micro-Interns how their organization has benefitted from the drive, perspective, and creative problem solving skills that first-generation students bring to the workforce.
See the full recap below.
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This webinar was recorded on September 19, 2023.
To highlight the benefits of Micro-Internships for students as well as companies, we were joined by two panelists. The first was Ashley Rodriguez, a first-generation MBA candidate from Florida International University. She has not only completed a Micro-Internship herself, but also supports first-generation students in her role as the Sr. Coordinator of the Humanities Edge Program at the same institution. The second was Jared Rhue, who has selected and received on-demand project support from multiple first-generation Micro-Interns.
Accessible and Efficient Exploration and Confidence Building
Ashley highlighted the benefits of Micro-Internships for first-generation students like herself - particularly how these short-term opportunities empower students to explore various career paths while balancing the busy schedules and financial constraints that so many first-generation students face.
"Parker Dewey is such an invaluable resource for first-generation students... It’s short-term and a unique opportunity to sample various career paths before committing to a full-time role.”
Ashley also mentioned the convenience of remote Micro-Internships, which accommodate the demanding schedules of first-generation students and allow them to gain valuable experience at any time of year. Ashley herself was able to complete a Micro-Internship over her winter break.
“I found it very convenient that it was remote… I do have a full-time job and simultaneously I was finishing up a semester. [My Micro-Internship] allowed me to use my Christmas break to pursue the opportunity."
From Ashley’s perspective, real professional experiences are also instrumental for empowering first-generation students; helping them gain confidence, and allowing them to build an awareness of potential career paths.
"Exposure to professional environments and guidance of experienced mentors... help students navigate the professional world with newfound confidence."
An Easy Lift for Companies / Creating a Talent Pipeline
Jared appreciated that Micro-Internships allow him to easily create accessible opportunities for students while simultaneously getting support on professional projects. Despite taking some time to coach Micro-Interns, he highlighted the minimal time investment required from his side, making Micro-Internships an efficient resource for companies.
"It’s really not that heavy of a lift… The Micro-Interns that I selected... They blew my expectations out of the water in terms of how fast they got the project done."
Even when schedules didn't align, Jared shared that he was able to provide clear instructions via video recordings. He spoke about the substantial impact Micro-Interns had on multiple time-intensive projects, including CRM data management and blog post optimization, noting not only the Micro-Interns’ impressive performances, but also the ease of giving feedback through the Parker Dewey platform.
“They did excellent and it was very valuable to us as a company… Once I mark the project completed, it prompts me to give feedback on the Micro-Intern regarding their performance, communication, timeliness, and other questions of that nature. It’s very simple and I love the Parker Dewey platform because it’s designed to be so simple and efficient.”
Jared also expressed his intention to prioritize Micro-Interns as top candidates for future full-time positions, highlighting the value they bring to companies through their demonstrated skills and contributions.
"All the Micro-Interns have exceeded my expectations. If and when we have full-time positions, they will be at the top of my candidate list."
Advice for First-Generation Students
Ashley encouraged fellow first-generation students to embrace their unique backgrounds as an asset and to persevere when facing rejection.
“As first-generation students, we come with a distinct background that is indeed very powerful. It’s actually an asset… You have to have that determination and resilience.”
Jared also offered valuable advice to candidates, stressing the importance of completing profiles and application questions thoughtfully to stand out to potential employers.
“Something that really stands out to me and that I look for are thoughtful, detailed answers to my project screening questions… I look for well-communicated and proven skill sets… and a professional headshot goes a long way. The candidates that do fill [their profiles and question responses] out and are thoughtful are the ones that make it to my short list.”
Advice for for Companies
Jared finished out the conversation with some advice for companies on the call.
“Definitely take advantage of [Parker Dewey Micro-Internships]… It’s a win for everybody. It’s a win for the school. It’s a win for the students. It’s a win for us as organizations.”
From both Ashley and Jared’s perspective, Micro-Internships are proving to be a game-changer for first-generation students seeking accessible opportunities and companies looking for fresh talent. See for yourself by creating an account and posting your own professional project!