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Guest blog by Tim Peterson, Senior Project Director, Kansas Board of Regents
The Kansas Micro-Internship (KMI) program was created in February of 2021 to support the Kansas Board of Regents’ Building a Future strategic plan and the Kansas Department of Commerce’s aim to connect businesses, job seekers, educational institutions, and training providers to ensure the state’s workforce is equipped to meet industry needs and to help create economic success for Kansas.
Micro-Internships are short-term, paid, professional assignments in business, communications, education, finance, human resources, information technology, marketing, research, social media, and many other areas. These projects can be completed remotely, year-round, and typically range from 10 to 40 hours of work. The program benefits students by removing obstacles of transportation, relocation, and fixed work schedules common to traditional on-site internships, and introduces them to many more potential careers and employers.
It also benefits employers who need immediate on-demand project help in addition to increasing their talent pipeline. Companies can see a 40-80% savings on the cost-per-hire when incorporating Micro-Internships into their existing recruitment strategies according to Parker Dewey, a Chicago-based company that provides the KMI program platform.
The initial funding for the program was provided by the Kansas Department of Commerce and The DeBruce Foundation, and the Strada Education Foundation provided $400,000 in December of 2022 to further expand the program within the Kansas public community and technical college system. The KMI program is currently the only statewide micro-internship program offered by a public higher education system in the nation.
More than 1,400 Kansas students and 135 employers have registered for the program thus far. On a scale of 1 (expected more) to 4 (executed like an industry veteran), the Kansas employers have given the overall work performed by their Micro-Intern students a 3.3 rating, exemplified by a few of the employer comments below.
“We were so impressed with the Micro-Intern and the program and how easy it was.”
“The process of reviewing and filtering candidates – looking at resumes and portfolios, hiring people, and then even paying for it, was seamless and intuitive… I was thrilled with the process part of it.”
The students have also been very positive about the program and have commented that:
“It’s giving us college students a chance to show you what we have.”
“Overall, this program will help me to strengthen my skills related to my degree, have real life experiences to talk about in interviews, and to do impactful work for local companies.”
Sophie Osborn, a junior at Kansas State University who has completed more than a dozen KMI projects, said “I went into college knowing I wanted to major in business, but I had a lack of exposure to the different areas. These projects allowed me to see firsthand. In one I got to do merger and acquisition research. Another involved social media long-term strategy. Right now I’m doing a mystery calling one.
I’ve really enjoyed being able to get experience and insight in a lot of different areas. It’s also given me a big leg up as I apply for traditional internships this coming summer because I have all this experience to show potential future employers.”
The students complete The DeBruce Foundation’s Agile Work Profiler when they register for the program to help them identify which projects will allow them to explore, grow, and leverage their interests and skills. They are paid a fixed fee for each project that averages between $15 – $25 per hour. The cost for any Kansas employer’s first two projects worth up to $1,000 are covered by The DeBruce Foundation and Strada Education Foundation grants.
In short, the Kansas Micro-Internship program is a win-win for both students and employers; it provides great help today and terrific talent for tomorrow!