Thinking small pays off big: Micro-internships and the pandemic
University of Dayton students are working hard to find non-traditional internships to gain experience during the coronavirus pandemic — and Liz Seager from UD Career Services is helping them succeed.
Starting in March, internships started being canceled around the country.
“Spring and early summer were a bloodbath,” said Seager, associate director of career advising and experiential education.
“Spring and early summer were a bloodbath.”
Students called her office, and Seager helped compile a list including remote positions, micro-internships and resumé-building opportunities for students seeking internships during the pandemic.
Harry Egbers, a communication management senior, lost a summer internship with the St. Louis Cardinals ticket office. He said he struggled to find a new position, and he eventually ended up working as a sales representative in a remote, short-term position this summer at Hermes Management, a property management agency in Bloomington, Illinois. His work experience was a micro-internship similar to the positions recommended by Seager’s office.
Micro-internships connect students with employers for professional projects directly from a student’s laptop but still allow them to network, build skills, explore industries and make money while they look for long-term positions.
Seager proposed developing mini and virtual courses to facilitate micro-internships at UD, and they will be available to students spring semester. Some employers require students to get college credit for internships as a form of compensation for unpaid positions. Career Services has designed zero credit classes so that students do not have to pay tuition to work, Seager said.
As the academic year continues, Seager said some companies are transitioning back to in-person while others are creating “bubble” environments that keep workers in small groups of essential staff isolated for the entirety of the project.
Media production senior Griffin Quinn worked remotely this summer as a graphic design consultant for GoEmpire Group, a Chicago sports agency. He also joined Dayton’s Red Scare team at The Basketball Tournament, a college basketball alumni event, as a multimedia specialist. He interned for two weeks in July inside of the tournament’s “bubble.” He said he prefers to work in person due to the collaborative nature of the content he creates, but both internships were learning opportunities. (See photos Quinn took at the tournament, below.)
“One of the most challenging things for me was to still apply for internships in companies, knowing that it was likely they would ultimately cancel their internship program,” he said. “It felt like with each application I submitted, a subsequent email would follow weeks later breaking the news that the program had been cut.”
For students facing that challenge and wanting to apply for internships for the spring semester, Seager suggested that they build up their resumés by taking advantage of micro-internships and getting involved with organizations on campus. Executive positions look especially attractive to employers, but participation as entry-level members can also connect students with job opportunities, she said.
Seager said students should just keep looking for opportunities.
“Be as persistent, tenacious and resilient as you possibly can.”
“Be as persistent, tenacious and resilient as you possibly can,” Seager said. “Something will develop in these weird and wonky times.”
Editor's note: Reporter Zoë Hill wrote this story on pandemic internships for her Media Writing class, taught by professor Annette Taylor. We're happy to publish it, giving Zoë yet another experiential learning opportunity.