Micro-internship initiative brings huge opportunities.

“Crossing the boundaries from the classroom to real world problem solving is in our DNA,” Balaji Rajagopalan, dean of the NIU College of Business, told us. “We’re exploring new ways of creating relevant immersive experiences for our students. Thanks to a new partnership with Parker Dewey, we’re now in a position to make micro-internship opportunities more readily accessible.”

Micro-internships: a fast path to real-world experience

Micro-internships are a boon for current NIU students and recent graduates who are time- or place-bound and yet still seek hands-on experience in their fields. Most micro-internships allow individuals to work on an any-time, anywhere basis. They’re also one of the fastest ways to carve out a direct path from academia to employment.

“Parker Dewey’s online platform lists short-term internship opportunities in a wide variety of industries with companies around the world,” Gina Nicolosi says. Nicolosi, chair of the Department of Finance, brought the Parker-Dewey relationship to NIU’s business college with the support of Dean Rajagopalan. In June 2019, the college officially partnered with the organization.

Free for students and recent grads

The service is free to interested students and recent graduates, but in order to access the opportunities and submit an application, they must first create an account. This will provide them with access to hundreds of short-term, paid professional employment projects, any number of which they can apply for by filling out a simple online form.

How a micro-internship works

Each project requires between 5-40 hours of work. Project length runs anywhere between one week to no greater than one month. Because the work is performed remotely, current NIU students are able to stick to their usual routine: attend classes, work existing part-time jobs, remain active in campus activities, and the like. They only need utilize their spare time on the tasks associated with the micro-internship in order to complete the project requirements.  By the end of the project, not only are the students paid, but they also gain real-world experience in their field of study, enhance their resume and expand their professional network … all from the comfort of their homes.

Currently, hundreds of projects are listed on the platform, with updates made on a frequent basis. “I’d recommend visiting the site often – at least once a week,” Nicolosi says.

Companies that post their projects range in size from Fortune 100 organizations to start-ups. Scope of work typically involves one or more of the following fields: sales, marketing, technology, human resources and/or finance.

The college’s relationship with Parker Dewey came about after the Dean gave a challenge to the leaders of the college’s academic departments.

“As part of this year’s strategic plan, Dean Rajagopalan challenged department leadership to increase the number of internship opportunities for our students,” Nicolosi adds. “The chairs of each academic department took it upon themselves to explore new ways to accomplish this. The effectiveness of the Parker Dewey online exchange became readily apparent. All the department chairs agreed. Companies win because their projects are extremely short-term in nature, so hiring permanent employees just doesn’t make sense.  Students and young alumni win because they can take on professional work in their field on a remote-basis, for a limited amount of time, and get paid for their efforts. It’s also a great way to explore other fields without a big commitment.”

The dean of the college wholeheartedly agrees.

“The platform provides a great opportunity for students to connect with businesses on short-term projects while they gain market skills in their field of study,” Rajagopalan says. “We’re making a concerted effort to help our students become aware of micro-internships and our affiliation with the Parker Dewey platform. From social media postings, web stories to academic advisers and professors talking it up on a regular basis, we’re working hard to get the word out. It’s yet another fantastic way for our students to cross the boundaries of classroom teachings and embark upon meaningful real-world professional experiences.”

by Michelle De Jean, Director of Marketing, NIU College of Business

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