Introducing the Micro-Internship

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Jeffrey Moss, founder of Parker Dewey, has found a novel way to use gigs as a pathway for companies to find new talent — and for students to get their feet in the door.

Moss calls the concept the “micro-internship” — short-term, professional assignments that college students and recent graduates can complete remotely. He founded Parker Dewey, a growing freelance platform for this age group, with the goal of connecting employers with talented millennials.

I recently spoke with Moss to find out more about micro-internships and the future of on-the-job learning.

What’s the problem that you’re solving?

We’re fixing college-to-career transitions in a way that also creates immediate value for both college students and companies. In my former career as an education investor, I saw a huge gap between talent and hiring. I met talented, hardworking students who didn’t come from the “right” schools or have the right major or GPA or family connections to get in the door. And as companies get more applicants for every job, they increasingly rely on technology like applicant tracking systems. So these potential hires get filtered out automatically because they don’t hit some artificial bar. Parker Dewey is trying to close this gap.

What does a “micro-internship” entail? Are they paid?

Every project on our platform must be professional and paid, and they must be paid fairly. So, the micro-internships are not things like making copies or fetching coffee. They may not be the most glamorous assignments, but they’re real professional assignments similar to what a recent college grad would be asked to do when he or she starts a job.

What are some advantages of your model for students?

Students can explore more career paths, gain experience and demonstrate skills to potential employers that could not have been gleaned from resume and GPA alone. What’s neat about our platform is that you get this other value that’s created by the platform itself. Students are not doing it for the money alone. There’s value they are receiving just by completing the assignment. Value in enhancing their resume. Value in career exploration. Value in building their network.

What about from a company’s perspective?

For companies, micro-internships help solve the problem of wasting money on millennial attrition. At my former company, we discussed getting rid of our internship program because every year, we’d find out 50 percent of them were not a good fit. What better way to assess fit — for both company and student — than to do some work?

Companies that use our platform cite better work quality because the students have an intrinsic motivation to prove themselves. Companies also find that micro-internships are a better, more efficient way to build a talent pipeline — and all with projects that are short-term and low-risk.

Do you think companies are changing how they look at employees and freelancers?

With all of this discussion around the gig economy and this recognition by companies that you can have individuals outside of the four walls making contributions, my question was, how come working with freelancers has to be about geographic arbitrage? Companies already know that GPA does not predict job performance. Now they are realizing that with low-risk, short-term projects, they are able to take a shot on someone that may come from a different major or different background than their usual recruiting pool.

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