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New micro-internship program to allow UNC students more flexible professional experience


Junior Yonas Kemal has completed three remote micro-internships. Photo courtesy of Kemal.

Beginning this fall, University Career Services is launching the UCS Micro-Internship Program, which partners with various employers that work with UNC to give short-term internships to students who want to take the next steps to launch their careers.  

Micro-internships are paid, professional projects that students may apply for to explore different career paths and gain experience. They provide students the chance to work with companies in different industries, regardless of major.

These micro-internships are open to all UNC students. However, students who lack any career-aligned professional experience, belong to a “special student population” at UNC or participate in a Center for Student Success program will have priority. 

UCS defined these “special student populations” as historically marginalized students, under-served student majors and target student populations.

The University has partnered with Parker Dewey for this program, which is a "mission-driven organization dedicated to providing equitable access to professional opportunities," according to its website. 

While internships are often limited by the number of opportunities and are less flexible, Kelsey Durham, UCS assistant director for internships and experiential learning, said that micro-internships are easily accessible and do not have a lengthy application process. 

Students can use micro-internships as a way to explore careers and roles in companies they might not have otherwise considered. 

"If you're finding a micro-internship that aligns with skills that you really want to solidify, or with a certain major that you have, or passions that you have, or a company that you really want to work with, whatever it is, you're getting your foot in the door,” Durham explained.

Companies of all sizes and industries use micro-internships. According to the UCS website, they are prioritizing companies that have projects in business and data analysis, strategy and consulting, project management, digital marketing, sales and business development, customer service and research and design. 

UCS is partnering with employers that provide micro-internship projects between 20 to 40 hours. Twenty-hour projects will cost companies $500, while 40-hour projects will cost them $1000. According to the Parker Dewey website, 90 percent of this will go directly to students.

UCS uses the"Four Steps to Career Success" model to help guide students in their journey to the professional world. Step one is self-awareness, followed by career exploration, experiential learning and high-impact experiences and finally, self-marketing and professional branding. 

"This is a high-impact experience, you're connecting with an employer, and then it leads right into step four, which is self-marketing and personal branding," Durham said. "This is, ultimately, our goal in Career Services.”

Durham also noted that micro-internships are a great opportunity for international students because students don't have to be U.S. citizens to participate in them.

Yonas Kemal, a junior studying business and public policy at UNC, has done three remote micro-internships based in different parts of the country. 

One was an education consulting company in New York, another a music production company in Los Angeles and the other dealt with sales and marketing software. 

“It's a highly unique, fun and extremely impactful way to get professional experience and, also to help pay rent, at the end of it," Kemal said.

Kemal also said micro-internships allow students to expand their knowledge base and network.

Kristin Schrader, the director of partnerships at Parker Dewey, said the organization is excited to deepen its partnership with UNC.

"Thanks to the incredible leadership and support of UNC Career Services, and particularly Interim Director Roderick Lewis, we are excited to implement one of the most thoughtful and strategic micro-Internship programs we’ve seen from any of our 500+ university partners," Schrader said in an email statement.

Schrader added that the micro-internship program will provide more accessible and paid professional development opportunities for UNC students. 

“This is one of the best experiences that any student can take advantage of,” Durham said.  

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