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Amid pandemic, micro-internships offer remote career experience

Pandemic micro-internships

By Tara de Souza

F or decades, Goucher students have secured internships to gain meaningful career experience, network with professional colleagues, and explore industries. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic derailed many of those opportunities as organizations began rethinking hiring needs and transitioned to remote work. With the Goucher College campus closed and all classes taking place virtually, a creative solution was needed to help students stay on track with career readiness.

“Last summer, as internship offers were rescinded and the job market slowed due to the pandemic, Goucher students missed out on opportunities to gain professional experience and enhance their skills,” says Julie Elliott, associate director for internships, Goucher College Career Education Office (CEO).

In response to this need, the CEO partnered with the Office of Alumnae/i Affairs and the Alumnae and Alumni of Goucher College (AAGC) and created a new micro-internship pilot program to offer virtual, short-term, paid, professional projects with alumnae/i mentors and companies in Fall 2020. Goucher students received micro-awards from the Goucher Internship Fellowship funds. With more than 40 applications, 22 students worked on 14 projects with 10 different organizations throughout the semester.

Nae Bailey ’21 received career experience with their micro-internship project for the Baltimore Museum of Industry (BMI). Hosted by Auni Gelles ’10, the museum’s community programs manager, Bailey created an audio companion to BMI’s “Women of Steel” exhibition. Rachel Days ’21 worked with Cristina Page ’93, an author and activist, to edit an episode of the Secure Women podcast, which focuses on helping build women’s economic security and financial power.

“These were unique opportunities created by Goucher alumnae/i for Goucher students,” says Elliott.

Carlyn Maia Dale-Miller ’21 worked on a micro-internship project for the Philadelphia Writing Project, and she values the skills learned while supporting early education teachers teach informational writing. “I think this project helped me continue to develop organizational skills,” she says. “The alumna I worked with was fantastic.”

Each of the students who participated in the fall program agreed that it should be replicated this spring, as well. The micro-internship program was also well received by the alumnae/i who participated.

“We had an incredibly successful match and are thrilled by how much this opportunity has propelled our podcast planning, organization, and execution over the past few weeks,” says Nenelwa Tomi ’11. “Our intern, Kylie Miller ’20 (who graduated this past December), was instrumental in supporting how we brought our artistic vision to life, and I cannot thank Goucher enough for implementing this innovative initiative.” Miller worked with Tomi to create episodes for the Mazungumzo podcast, which explores intergenerational Blackness from a bicultural lens.

With the fall pilot program’s success, the CEO and Alumnae/i Affairs hope to support another 40 students in virtual micro-internship projects this spring.

“The response from both students and hosts was overwhelmingly positive,” says Elliot. “As the pandemic continues and the unemployment rate is almost double what it was before coronavirus arrived in the U.S., students still need opportunities to gain experience and develop new skills. Continuing the micro-internship program during the spring semester allows Goucher to continue to support our students by providing experiential learning opportunities.”

To learn more about the program, please contact alumni@goucher.edu.

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