Sustainable Micro-internships

The U21 Sustainable Micro-internships programme allows you to work with your fellow students from across the globe, sharing knowledge and expertise whilst immersing yourself in a commercial organisation. In your groups you will be tasked with providing a solution to a real-life SDG related challenge, which you will then pitch to senior stakeholders within the organisation at the end of the programme. 

Green hued image showing 5 people sat on chairs laughing towards the camera. In the left had corner are the words sustainable micro-internships

Not only will you form quick partnerships with sustainability-minded students from a variety of academic disciplines around the world, but you’ll also challenge your abilities, whilst developing key skills enabling you to thrive in the modern workplace.

This exclusive opportunity is only available to students at U21 member universities, and is open to students of all disciplines.  Please note that spaces are very limited, please ensure that you convert times to your timezones before applying. If you have any questions, please consult our FAQs.

Applications for December 2022, January 2023 and February 2023 are now closed. Applications will open for 2023/24 in October 2023. To express an interest in this programme and other U21 Global Student programmes for future, you can fill in this short form.

If you’re interested in learning more about social change you may also be interested in our micro-online development programme here.


Each two week micro-internship has a distinct SDG Focus and will run at different times to allow you to participate around your academic and other commitments. 

Friday 2 December - Friday 16 December - SDG focus: Reduced Inequalities

Micro-internship 1

Compulsory live sessions: Tuesday 6 December & Thursday 15 December - 05:00 - 07:30 GMT 

Micro-internship 2

Compulsory live sessions: Tuesday 6 December & Thursday 15 December - 14:00 - 16:30 GMT

Friday 13 January - Friday 27 January - SDG focus: Quality Education

Micro-internship 3

Compulsory live sessions: Tuesday 17 January & Thurs 26 January - 05:00 - 07:30 GMT 

Micro-internship 4

Compulsory live sessions: Tuesday 17 January & Thurs 26 January- 14:00 - 16:30 GMT

Friday 3 February - Friday 17 February - SDG focus: Good Health and Wellbeing

Micro-internship 5

Compulsory live sessions: Wednesday 8 February & Thursday 16 February - 05:00 - 07:30 GMT 

Micro-internship 6

Compulsory live sessions: Wednesday 8 February & Thursday 16 February - 14:00 - 16:30 GMT

This is your chance to test your ability to deliver results in the workplace - you’ll be outside your academic discipline, out of your comfort zone, working with a truly diverse team with whom you will quickly have to build connections and understanding, you’ll be set a complex challenge and have to deliver. This is a short, fast-paced and intensive way to develop and practice the skills and ways of working that employers are looking for. 

You’ll develop many key employability skills, including:

"I've truly broadened my global perspectives through interactions with students from diverse cultural, geographic and educational backgrounds. I've also made a few great friendships through the program, and overall feel better equipped to tackling social inequality in my own community. Overall a very valuable experience I'd recommend to those around me!”
  • Agility – your ability to adapt to new environments, to grasp topics outside of your academic specialism and work with difference. 
  • International Collaboration – first-hand experience of working across different timezones, languages and cultures,  bringing together global knowledge to deliver results for an employer. 
  • Influence – your ability to build trust and solve complex problems quickly.
  • Presentation Skills - your ability to clear convey complex information to your stakeholders. 
  • Teamwork -your ability to work with a new and globally diverse team to deliver a solution. 

Throughout the program you will receive guidance from Common Purpose to work as a team and focus on sustainable solutions. You will also be given access to U21 Community where you can continue to work remotely between sessions to finalise your solution pitch. 

“Working hands-on and critically thinking about possible solutions to real-world issues was absolutely amazing!”
"[We] have been bowled over by the engagement,  resourcefulness and reasoning shown by all the students in their presentations.  They presented some fantastically novel and attainable solutions— some of which we can look at implementing immediately — to help us address these most pressing issues that we are facing.  We are excited to be bringing our  team up to speed with the outcomes from this session and see what we can start looking to implement on the ground." -Raphe van Zevenbergen

U21 Micro-internship agenda 

Day 1 – You will receive the challenge brief for the problem you will be working on and receive a virtual introduction from Common Purpose and U21. 

Days 2-3 – You will start independent research around the topic of your challenge and the employer. You will use this time to formulate questions for your host employer. 

Day 4 – In a 2 hour live session you will have the opportunity to meet your host employer and team members via Zoom and start to create your plan for responding to the challenge. You must attend the Day 4 and Final Day live sessions to complete the programme and apply for the micro-credential. 

Days 5 -13 – You will work with your Team to innovate your solution and create your presentation for your senior stakeholders. It is up to you how, where and when you work on this with your team to collaborate around your other commitments and various time zones. This is your opportunity to bring together your differing academic, regional and personal expertise to make change for a more sustainable future. 

Final Day – In this live Zoom session, each group will present their solution to the host employer and receive feedback. To conclude the micro-internship you will be supported to reflect on the experience and how you used the opportunity of working with your team to develop key skills.  

Participants who complete the programme by attending both live sessions and contributing to their group’s solution and presentation will have the opportunity to complete a written reflection on their learning and skills development, and will receive the U21 Leading Change micro-credential.