Although internships are not necessarily a new idea, their rise as an essential part of the college kid’s life has only occurred in the last decade or so. Employers set out every year for a new batch of interns, each with their own set of requirements. From talking to my own college intern, I can tell you that most students her age don’t have a great grasp on the specific characteristics employers look for in an intern. The issue arises because many consider interns to be their own class of employee that has very different expectations than the rest of the company. We asked some experts on what exactly they look for in an intern and, as to be expected, the results were all over the board.
“Do they have to be at a certain level of college or know certain skills? Absolutely not. I often take juniors and seniors but that’s mainly because those are the ones that apply.” – Andrea Berkman of The Constant Professional
“Junior or Senior ranking: We like this because we feel this gives the candidate more time to have preexisting experience. We’ve also had great success in hiring our interns after their time with us, and this education level makes this possible as they are close to graduation. GPA of 3.0 or above: In our opinion this shows hard work and dedication to any project.” – Lisa Powell of Media Source
“I would never judge someone on whether or not they have a degree. I have come across many people who never did a degree and through interning got well on their way to a dream job in their early twenties. I am a big believer in hiring interns and actually teaching them. I will always say to my interns, if there’s something that you specifically want to learn, tell me and we’ll do it.” – Emily Reid of Rare Pink
“It’s quite rare to find interns with developed skills, so for us what is far more important is their adaptability, ease with technology and ability to learn. Managing interns can sometimes exact more time from a business than their value can bring, so having an intern that only needs to be told once and who can take the initiative, significantly reduces the amount of training needed and allows them to take on additional responsibilities quickly.” – David of Zipcube
“The best things an intern can bring to the table is a willingness to learn and enthusiasm to work. Work ethic is a skill that can’t always be taught, so someone that shows promise in that area can typically be an asset to our team.” – Jake Lane of LawnStarter
“We are looking only for passion. We think if our interns have the right amount of interest in our company and their work they will get creative and figure out whatever challenges are thrown at them. Many people look at intelligence, which is very subjective and honestly dependent on what degree of intelligence you are looking at.” – Scott Gabrielson of Oliver Cabell
“An intern’s college education and experience (or lack of it) has never played a role in my decision to bring on an intern. For my company, what really matters is if the person is smart, and if they’re eager to learn. How “hungry” are they? The strength of their desire to improve or grow their skills, and to improve their career through an internship, is the most important trait to me in evaluating if they would be a good fit.” Skyler Slade of Tandem
“Once candidates sent in their resumes and cover letters via email, we scheduled Skype interviews with them before bringing anyone in for an in-person interview. At the end of the Skype interview we told each candidate to follow up with us within a few days via Instagram, Vine, Snapchat or any other social medium they liked most and to show us their creativity. They could touch on something we discussed during the Skype interview or something that just showed off their personality. Vine seemed to be the most popular.” – Shawn Walker of HEROfarm Marketing and Public Relations
“I tend to hire interns who are rising college juniors or seniors. Historically, candidates younger than this do not have enough career experience and/or lack professional acumen to work independently. Because our agency’s learning curve is very steep, I give priority to candidates who already have baseline knowledge from previous agency and/or public/private organization marketing or communications experience.” – Frances Reimers of PCI
The intern needs to have an entrepreneurial spirit. They need to have a natural passion that drives them to want the best experience possible. Just like with classes, we as the internship provider can only give so much but it is up to the student to use the tools given.” – Evin Anderson of Waverly Knobs Entertainment
“It’s an incredible experience for us to work with interns because we get to teach them the industry while also using their creative insight and new ideas. We don’t necessarily look at what level they are at in college. We believe in talent and potential. The desire to learn, a creative mind, and a fun, outgoing personality are really important.” – Lindsay Satmary of NerdOut Multimedia
“I look for someone who has followed the directions when applying. I ask for a cover letter and resume and many applicants don’t include a cover letter – or they write a simple email and attach their resume. If they can’t follow this basic instruction, they are eliminated. I look for candidates who are Juniors or Seniors in college because they may turn out to be a good fit for permanent employment after graduation.” – Mellissa Dahl of Aladtec, Inc.
“The number one thing we look for is a sense of social justice. The intern should feel an obligation to give back to the community and live out our mission of raising skin cancer awareness amongst high schoolers, college students, and the general population. Other things we seek include a willingness to learn, an ability to create PowerPoint presentations and Word documents, and a capacity for creative thinking.” – Manisha Kaura of Dermetel
“When looking for an intern the most important attributes I look for is passion and work ethic. A college degree is not a necessity. Rather than eliminating someone because of their education degree I like to focus on those who willing to work hard and have a passion in my business industry.” – Lisa Chu of Black N Bianco
“The word “interest” is our focus when we search for an intern. It is important that the intern has a genuine interest in our industry or in the field they will be working in. This motivates them to come to work every day and to keep learning. In our company we do prefer interns that are recent graduates or soon to graduate from a College/University.” – Ana Caracaleanu of GVE Online Edcuation
“We enjoy having interns at SWPR as long as they are eager to learn, hungry and can keep up. I purposely don’t baby my interns, I’d rather throw them into the fire from day one so they understand how the real world works. We do set up training programs for certain tasks so no one is left in the dark or falls behind, but keeping up is just part of our world.” – Jenny Kincaid of Socialworx PR
“Important attributes that we look for in an intern are currently pursuing a degree in communications, media or broadcasting, public relations, marketing, English, journalism, graphic design, or other related fields, able to work at least 10-12 hours per week, and demonstrate a desire to learn about business and public relations.” – Jennifer Lee Magas of Magas Media Consultants, LLC
“One of the most important attributes that I look for in an intern is the willingness to not shy away from any task given to them. They must not be afraid to do any task or project given to them, and must be up for the challenges that are presented. Interns who always feel ready to complete any task that they receive will offer great value to our and any future organization and help us and will help them become more efficient.” – Ian Aronovich of GovernmentAuctions.org
“I believe each company’s needs are different and their expectations of interns may be different as well. For some, raw talent may be more important than education. For my company, I have found that clarity in communication and reliability are two of the most important assets an intern can bring to the table.” – Kat Dunams of Tasku Babi
The most surprising trend came about education. Although most college interns stress that they do not have a high enough level of education to land the job, employers ensure that they are much more focused on passion and interest than educational level. And even those that do have educational requirements explain that it has much more to do with a an employee’s maturity level than quantitative skills. That’s definitely good news for college students!
Ready to start your corporation and hire interns of our own? Give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772 or visit us at mycorporation.com, and let us help you start and run your business!