Micro-Internships and Early Career Exploration

We know that many students are eager to seek internship opportunities as soon as they arrive at University Park. It is an exciting time as you begin to explore college, your major, and potential career choices. You are also discovering that you are now in control of your own choices. It is important that you become familiar with and use the resources available to you so you can take action to maximize your potential at Penn State. 

One of the most common questions we hear is, "when do most students complete their internship?" The answer is that most students complete their internship the summer after their junior year. However, there are many things first- and second-year students can do to gain experience and explore career options.

In the spring semester, many companies are interested in meeting students early in their college careers. They will advertise externships, volunteer conferences, and leadership workshops specifically targeting first- and second-year students. There are often applications required for these experiences, so students can have an opportunity to develop interview and application skills.

Companies are hoping that these experiences will help them identify potential candidates for the future while sharing an inside look into their organizations. Students have the opportunity to interview the company to see if it is a good fit, to learn leadership and professional skills, and to build professional networking contacts with potential future employers. Watch for the Office of Career Solution's weekly email, which advertises these opportunities, or talk with a career coach to learn more.

Students can use many online resources to explore potential companies and the work that they do. The Forage is a free site that provides you with the opportunity to build skills through five to six hour projects. You will be able to experience and solve real-world problems and gain insight and connection from top level companies. You can also explore potential career paths like consulting, software development and engineering, and data analytics.

The term "micro-internship" is branded by a company called Parker Dewey, which specializes in connecting young professionals and students with companies that have projects to be completed. These experiences, which are often paid, allow students to participate in short-term projects where they can apply their skills and knowledge from their coursework to earn valuable experience that can be added to a resume or used in future interviews. Visit the Parker Dewey website to create an account and begin applying for micro-internships.

You can search for opportunities on Nittany Lion Careers under "Job and Internship". When searching select "Externship or Contracts/Gig Experiences" under "Position Type" to access opportunities with companies looking for first and second-year students.

Additionally, many other online job posting systems may post gigs, contract opportunities, and part-time positions. While these shorter experiences will not be approved as an internship, they can provide students the opportunity to gain experience, explore companies, and discover the type of work they enjoy.