There are many articles and books written on how to hire the right employee or how to help an intern select the right internship but few articles have been written with advice on how to choose the right intern for your company. Choosing an intern is as important as choosing a new employee because an internship is essentially a learning arrangement. An intern cannot replace a regular employee. In addition to supervising the work of an intern, the internship manager must also be a trainer and mentor.
It is imperative that internship managers understand that (at least in the beginning) an internship may decrease company productivity as your intern goes through the onboarding process. Planning ahead and hiring well, however, will decrease disruptions to your business. Here are 5 things to look for in an intern:
1. Enthusiasm – The candidate should be excited about the work of the company and the potential of joining the company. Do not choose an intern who simply needs a grade or who hasn’t had luck in finding their dream job.
2. Attitude – Attitude encompasses about demeanor and personality. You want to someone who is positive, friendly, respectful, and willing to be taught.
3. Cultural Fit – Select a candidate who not only can do the work but who you fits into your organizational culture. Look for someone who reflects the core values, beliefs, and work habits of your company.
4. Integrity – Trust is important in every work environment. Look for a candidate who exhibits honesty and integrity – your company’s culture, revenue, and reputation depend on it.
5. Resourcefulness – Consider candidates who are creative problem solvers. A resourceful intern knows when to seek help, when to complete a task independently, and how to offer strategies for improvement.
You may be tempted to hire the intern with the most technical or industry knowledge but that is not always the best decision. It has been said that “hard skills will get you the job but soft skills will allow you to keep the job.” That is also true when hiring interns. You can teach technical (hard) skills but internpersonal or people (soft) skills such as enthusiasm, positive attitude, integrity, and resourcefulness cannot be taught. It is those soft skills that will allow an intern to integrate seamlessly into your company, become a contributing team member, and provide great service to your customers.
Nicki Sanders, The Packaged For Success Coach, is an Adjunct Professor with an extensive background in developing and managing internship programs. She is a skilled program manager, coach, trainer, and group facilitator who has packaged her Masters of Social Work degree and 20 years of work experience into Packaged For Success, a full service training and professional development company.
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