82: Micro-Internships at Governors State University w/ Dr. Elaine Maimon

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Elaine Maimon, President at Governors State University, joined the podcast to talk about the potential power of micro-internships as a bridge for students from academia to employment.

The microme internship gives adult students and also traditional age students, and opportunity to try out new ways of exercising what they're learning and to get paid for it. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network. I'Meric Oleson, AVP of marketing at Helix Education, and we're here today with Dr Elane Maymon, president at Governor State University. Dr Mayman, welcome to the show. Thank you very much, Erik. Really excited to talk with...

...you today about the potential power of micro internships as a bridge for students from academia to employment. Before we dig into that, Elane, can you give the listeners a little bit better understanding of both Governor State University and your will there? Yes, very proud to be the president of Governor State University, but we are a public university in the suburbs of Chicago. Our student population is about five thousand students. Where a relatively young university, sounded in one thousand nine hundred and sixty nine and about to celebrate our fifty anniversary. And we are a university that from the start has been committed to what we now call the new student majority. In nineteen sixty nine the students were not in the majority, but they are now and that new majority includes first generation students of color, adults and vetters, and I think that's a very important population...

...and I think that all of the listeners will want to know various ways that we can serve this very important population of students. We're a minority majority institution, about fifty three percent students of color at we have a structured undergraduate program that we're very proud of, but also an award winning transfer program with seventeen community college partners in the Chicago Land Area. We offer graduate education as well, at the master's level and then practice doctor that number about five, and things like physical therapy, occupational therapy, nursing, council and leadership. It's a wonderful mission and you are always an institution. When I was living and working in Chicago that we look to as an example of how to be missionally minded, and I love this topic that we're talking about today and this innovation...

...and this innovative plan that you're working on right now. To start this off, can you give us a high level, definitional overview of what a micro internship is? Yes, I should also say that at Governor State University we say that innovation is in our DNA, and so we are always alert two ways that we can serve students in a creative ways. The micro internship came to my attention because of an amazing entrepreneur named Jeffrey Moss, who started something that's based in the Chicago area, but he disseminates it nationally and it's called Parker doing. And what Parker doing offers is the opportunity for students to compete, to do online projects that are paid by various companies. He recruits the companies and they provide projects that students can do online and, of course,...

...be compensated for, and that's what we mean by a micro internship. It's something that doesn't last to whole semester or a whole summer. I suppose, in the natural parlance of things. We call it a GIG. These are gig internships. They're really a amazing kinds of opportunities because it means that especially with adult students who already have jobs as well as going to school, and we want them to understand how the jobs that they have are things that they can connect to future career development. But the micro internship gives adult students and also traditional aged students and opportunity to try out new ways of exercising what they're learning and to get paid for it. So I imagine the primary impetus for employers why they're excited about these kind of paid pre employment trials. They get...

...to know what they're going to be getting from a new Grad who may have few professional experiences, few references that you know. Similarly, is that kind of try it before you sign a letter of intent? Is that what's exciting for a student as well, because because they don't exactly know what they're going to be getting into when they accept that first job as well? Yes, I think with both the companies that offer the micro intention sense of the students, this new concept really fits well with the needs the employers. Hot they're all sorts of projects that employers need done and they don't necessarily need to be assigned to their full time employees. In fact, in some ways they want their full time employs to be doing other things. And then it also means that they're not committing to a student for a full summer, for a full semester. They're allowing the student to show capacity and the abilities to do a...

...project and that means the students could also apply for other projects. So from the students point of view it's a way kind of low risk to try something out to be successful and we hope and then through the students undergraduate career, to do perhaps a number of these micro internships and then have a resume that is going to be very attractive to future employers, including those companies that have offered the micro internships. You just hit on a really interesting point from a timeline perspective. I think when I heard about this initiative, governors, I started thinking about perfect for the near Grad or the almost Grad but you've talked about a different use case, the idea of students applying for these microinternships really early in their degree program to, you know, know what their post degree life might look like before committing to the degree or even determining what their atomic degree should be. Absolutely we have assigned the implementation of the micro internships to...

...something we're very proud of. The Governor State called the Center for the junior year. Now, this center for the junior year is to prepare freshman and sophomores to be juniors. The junior is a student who had is in a major, but the whole idea of selecting a major and then finding out how you're going to be able to put bread on your table with that major and also be excited about what you're doing is something that you need to explore in the freshman and sophomore years. We're very committed also for students who are majoring in the humanities, in English, which is my field, in history and so forth, to understand that they are capable of doing these micro internships. Even if something is labeled marketing, I'd look at these projects and I look at them, I said I could do these. They're based based on research...

...and writing, and so we want students to try these things out and be able to connect their English major to the possibilities transferring skills into something that looks very different. So you know our motto at the Center for the junior year is mission before for Major. We want students, and in fact we discourage students to have to absolutely commit to a major to early, because we want students to see the wide range of majors available and we also want students understand that if you have a mission in life and thinks you want to do, you want to help people, they're various ways to fulfill that, you know, not strictly only nursing or things that the students have encountered, and so we really want, you know, kind of broad vision and when we discovered the possibility micro internships, we thought this will really be a very concrete way for students to connect their exploration of majors with paid gigs to try out their...

...skills. Lane I know this is a new initiative for governors and really a new concept vocationally in general, but what early feedback are you getting from students about their interests in these kinds of micro internships? Well, first of all, we started out with a kind of ad hoc approach and I'll just tell all your listeners that's not the way to do it. You know that we basically we have a number of our faculty and administrators, service mentors to students, and we had Jeff Moss out and he talked about Parker doing and then you that there were there were just then from that there was one or two students who try it out. But that isn't the way to do it, because it is a new concept. We need to be structured about it, because the learning opportunity is something that we have to take full advantage of,...

...and that the whole idea of doing a very short term internship and if you're selected for it, you have to also understand the obligations you have that it's a really great way, you know, to help students with what we call the soft skills about doing things one time, doing them thoroughly, being responsive to an employer. And so, you know, what we have learned from the ad hoc approach is that we have to have a structured approach within and habit with a unit of our institution, the centers of the junior year, working closely with our career services department, which is under Student Affairs, working together first of all to help students understand the concept and help them to go online look at what's available. We have to do this peer to peer. We have AP peer to peer a way to do it. We have to do it with faculty involvement so that faculty can also work with students, first...

...of all on identifying the fact that there are a number of these projects that they can do. And then, because under the porker doing approach, you're going to be competing with other students who will be applying to the same project, the requirement is to write a really short, can pointed application. That's a writing task that is not something that they may be used to. We have to help the students prepared to write those applications and then we have to prepare the student that if they're selected, they have really important obligations about fulfilling the project. So what that means on the one hand, is that it's very important to make this part of instruction for the students, preparations for the students, and on the other hand it's a tremendous teaching moment where, you know, we can help students with the whole framework of soft skills. And...

...then, for both the company and for the student, they're doing it in a pretty low risk environment because the obligation is only for a few weeks. But it also shows that the students do it well, then they're going to be able to build on this, have additional micro internships, learn from them, get more money from them, build a resume so forth, and sell on. It's such an interesting initiative. Any next steps? Advice for other institutions listening to this? Maybe they've never heard of that phrase micro internships before. What is that next step of how to start investigating platforms options? Where should they start first? Well, they can go to the porker dewey website and any of that would be a really important step because it's open to any institution that that simply wants to do the kinds of preparatory work that we're doing to help students to apply for these. I've also heard, I've learned about...

...some other frameworks for micro internships. I just heard it a conference that I don't want to say the name of the university wrong, but one one. One University has reached out to its alumni and has asked the allot the alumni group to come up with some micro internships that would be exclusively for the students at that university. That sounds like a really great idea. We may even borrow it and and use that to working with our alumni to come up with micro internships that would be focused on our own students. But for right now, rather than trying to invent the wheel wholesale, the Parker DOE website is the place to go. It's a great advice. That power of corporate partnerships is probably under valued and executed and Higher Ed. So I love that that you're giving us that to think about. Alane, thanks so much for your...

...time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any follow up questions? Well, I'm a very reliable emailer and so anyone wants to email me at Emaman at geovs to dot eedu is welcome to do that. Awesome. Thanks against so much for joining us today. A lane. Thank you so much, Cherk. Pleasure. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss...

...an episode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time.

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