As the school year draws to a close for many across the country, students aren’t the only ones getting ready for prime internship season. Companies are also looking at fresh ways to leverage interns this summer and beyond.
For the third post in my #MindTheTechTalentGap blog series, I’m taking a look at Micro-Internships, and how the 2016-founded Chicago-based company Parker Dewey is improving college-to-career transitions for both students and companies.
So, what are Micro-Internships? They provide companies with talent for projects and employment needs, just like a traditional internship. The twist is that Micro-Internships are shorter, and offer opportunities for students whose circumstances don’t allow for them to take on a long-term, on-site internship, whether that’s because of finances, location, or some other reason. At the same time, companies gain access to the valuable talent they need on-demand. Beyond the support for a specific task or short-term project, it provides a competitive advantage in recruiting as companies may find someone who will be a great fit for the long-term.
Micro-Internships present a boon of benefits for a talent-strapped technology industry. I recently talked to Jeffrey Moss, CEO and Founder of Parker Dewey, about how Micro-Internships can help close the tech talent gap, why they create a more diverse pipeline of candidates, and what trends he’s seeing in the space.
Bridging the Gap
While many industries are feeling the talent crunch in a tight labor market, technology faces a significant uphill battle. According to Korn Ferry’s “Future of Work: The Global Talent Crunch” report, “The United States, currently the world’s leading technology market, can expect to lose out on $162.25 billion by 2030 due to sector skills shortages.”
Some of this talent shortage could be alleviated by a more open-minded approach to on-campus recruitment. Jeffrey shares that many of the top technology companies, “focus just on target schools, competing for just 1-2% of the potential 3.8 million degree-earners in a given year. As a result, millions of what we call “Career Launcher” candidates are overlooked.” Simply put, they’re missing out on candidates.
For example, when a company looks for tech talent at a handful of leading schools, or from specific tech-focused majors, they are missing out on candidates who may have been programming for decades, but chose to pursue a more traditional liberal arts degree. Micro-Internships help bridge this gap, says Jeffrey, “providing a way for hiring managers to see firsthand both the technical and other “Core Skills” of a candidate in a way that helps them offload some work, without having to commit to a full-time role.”
Diverse Candidates Wanted
Micro-Internships do more than help close the technology talent gap: they’re also a solution to companies looking for fresh ways to increase their diversity hiring. How? They assist companies in looking outside of their traditional networks — targeted schools, referrals from current employees — to include candidates from more underrepresented populations. “Too often hiring managers and recruiters rely on the same networks year after year to fill entry-level roles,” says Jeffrey. “Micro-Internships help professionals address these challenges by providing opportunities to work with diverse talent on short-term, professional projects.” He continues to say that, “This helps professionals see diverse talent in action and discover the skills a previously untapped candidate pool can bring to their organization.”
Tech Micro-Internship Trends
Jeffrey also shares some interesting observations he’s seen as Parker Dewey has helped more than 1,000 students complete Micro-Internships over the past several years. One of those is that companies outside of tech behemoths like Amazon, Apple, Google, and Facebook have trouble marketing their open tech roles to candidates. Jeffrey explains that, “Firms such as JP Morgan, Pepsi, Eaton, McGraw Hill, and CBRE have incredibly innovative technology efforts, however students may not consider these firms thinking they need to go to Google or Facebook for interesting technology roles. Through Micro-Internships, companies gain access to students who might not have otherwise considered their organization.”
He offers an example of Roti, a rapidly growing Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant chain that has worked with Parker Dewey to find Micro-Interns in areas like data analysis and code development. This provides students with a clear view into a non-traditional tech organization, while also helping Roti find the project-based, short-term help it needs to compete and grow.
In a recent article on Fistful of Talent, leading talent influencer John Hollon writes that Micro-Internships are a “gig economy way to find great young talent,” and I think he’s spot on. As we face a tight labor market, and shifting workforce dynamics, creative approaches to recruitment strategies are going to win the day. Micro-Internships are the perfect example of a win-win talent solution for both companies looking to find great people, and for students looking for flexible, worthwhile experiences outside of a traditional internship.
I want to hear from you! Have you tried Micro-Internships as part of your recruitment strategy? How would they benefit your organization? Is this the first time you’re hearing about them or are you familiar with the approach? Please share your thoughts and comments below or on social media using #MindTheTechTalentGap.
Read other posts from the #MindTheTechTalentGap series: