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What is a micro-internship and why does it matter?

There has been a lot of talk about micro-internships, but what does the term mean and what are the benefits for high school students?

Written by

Sigrid Kenmuir

Micro-internships are an emerging trend in the education and workforce landscape. They’re designed to give students the chance to gain practical experience in a particular field ahead of starting their tertiary education and entering the world of work. They’re designed to provide students with a meaningful experience that will help them prepare for their future careers. 

It’s trending?

There are various companies – both educational institutions and others – offering micro-internships in various forms. They vary in length, and scope, and some are paid whereas others are voluntary and unpaid. According to Oxford University, their micro-internship programme for Oxford students is voluntary and unpaid, “offer[ing] employers the opportunity to provide voluntary learning and development opportunities” for students. They go on to note: “Each placement should provide a student or group of students with an opportunity to observe and assist with a clearly defined project, that will allow them to develop their sector knowledge and employability prospects. By helping complete these projects, our students significantly develop their skills and understanding within an organisations’ sector.”

In 2019, Forbes wrote an article titled: Why Micro-Internships Will Be the Next Big Thing, citing a change in how businesses are managing internships. With work experience being seen as an ever-more crucial part of joining the workforce, students can no longer afford to leave college without it. Whereas traditional internships are often longer term, virtual internships and micro-internships can be shorter, allowing students to complete them while still studying or working a paid job. 

What is a micro-internship?

The concept of a micro-internship involves completing a short-term, project-based assignment for a company or organisation. In our case, the micro-internship project is created and scoped in partnership with a real company and contains a real business problem that the student group has to use their newly acquired skills to solve. This provides students with the opportunity to apply their knowledge in a practical setting and gain valuable work experience.

How does a micro-internship benefit high school students?

While both of the quotes above relate to university and college students, we feel that micro-internships have as much – if not more – value for the high school students we work with through iX LaunchPad. In fact, programmes like ours can be particularly valuable for high school students who are interested in exploring potential career paths but may not have the resources or experience to pursue a traditional internship.

One of the key benefits of a micro-internship is that it can help students build their skills and professional networks. By working on a real-world project alongside professionals in their chosen industry, students can develop practical skills and gain exposure to potential employers. Additionally, because micro-internships are short-term and flexible, students can often complete them alongside their other academic and extracurricular commitments.

Why are the teachers' industry pros?

Another important aspect of the micro-internship programme is that the classes are taught by professionals working in the industry they are teaching. This gives students the chance to learn more about what working life is like in the industry and from experienced practitioners. This is key for high school students, as it can help them to make more informed decisions about their career paths and gain valuable insights into the realities of working in their chosen field.

Why are the programmes so short?

We know that high school is hectic. It’s busy – full of extracurricular activities, studying for exams, and seeing friends. That’s why we’ve created a programme that can be done in as little as 8 hours, or as long as four weeks. We want to make sure we complement your schedule, fitting in after school or during your school holidays, as needed. We’ve designed our programme to be less formal than traditional internships, which can make them less intimidating for students who are new to the workforce.

How do micro-internships help high school students?

By giving students access to industry professionals and real business problems, they get a clearer idea of what the job they are exploring might be like. This experience gives them an edge when applying to college and university, as they can be more informed and persuasive in their applications with their greater practical knowledge. Micro-internships also give students real work experience, something to put onto their first CV or resume, as well as the confidence of knowing that they have something under their belt to offer in the workplace from the start. We work with real companies to create micro-internship programmes that give students the opportunity to solve real business problems. This helps students develop their problem-solving skills and gain hands-on experience in their chosen field.

Increasingly, businesses are leaning towards skills-based hiring, rather than leaning on qualifications as the basis for awarding a job to a candidate. That’s not to say that qualifications are no longer necessary – all education is helpful! – but acquiring as many skills as possible makes you a better candidate for a job. A creative writer with skills in data analytics will be able to get far more work than one who has skills only in writing, for example. Micro-internships are a great way to acquire useful, practical skills in a short timeframe to keep in your back pocket for when you need them.

The competition is fierce. 

There’s a lot of competition in both the college and university application process and the job market. Students should use any and all methods to help give themselves the edge to get into the college they want, and one day get the job they want. We’ve spoken before about how to frame your experiences in applications, how to stand out in your college applications, and the best ways that high school students can prepare themselves for their future careers. We are invested in helping each student reach their potential and live the life they had always dreamed of.

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