Identifying the Right Interns for Your Business

Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley's photostream

Image courtesy of Kevin Dooley’s photostream

Experience. When recent college graduates leave university life and venture into the working world, experience is what employers are looking for in their new hires. However, how can college students have this experience while still working toward their degrees? The answer is simple: internships.

Your business, or a business you are familiar with, has probably had at least one intern. From communications and marketing to business and engineering, many students are either required or encouraged to complete internships (paid or unpaid) before receiving their diplomas. Although many students are seeking out these opportunities, it’s up to you and your colleagues to identify the interns that are the right fit for your organization. In fact, hiring interns is a lot like hiring new full-time employees. When you want to bring interns on to help them earn the crucial experience they need while also helping your business with projects, think about these factors before extending any offers:

1.    Skills.
Yes, interns are coming to you to gain experience in their fields of choice. But before they join your organization, they should have at least taken courses that are in-line with what they will be doing at the internship. For example, a PR intern should be familiar with press releases and how they are written and delivered, while a business intern should have a working knowledge of Excel and its functionalities. It is also always good to see candidates who have become involved on campus and take part in clubs and organizations that are affiliated with their career path.

2.    Professionalism.
When potential interns come in for interviews, they should be dressed appropriately (business attire) and speaking in a way that shows their maturity and ability to communicate well in a professional setting. They should know that slang terms shouldn’t be used, and also have knowledge about the company before coming in to talk. If interviewees don’t seem to be taking the interview process seriously, then you don’t have to take them seriously as candidates. Of course, they will learn more as they work with you – but some base has to be there to build off of during the internship.

3.    Personality.
Most students seeking internships are enthusiastic, eager and ready to work. But just like when hiring a full-time employee, you need to gauge if an intern’s personality will fit the team and work with the company’s culture. Someone who is a great worker but seems extremely quiet may not fit well with a team of people who are loud and used to bantering back and forth. On the flip side, you may want to bring someone on that is the opposite so you can help balance your environment while helping them acclimate to a business culture.

Interns can bring valuable assistance to your business or organization. With the right interns on-board, you can add to your support staff, help them prepare for their careers and play a large role in building the skillset of the future workforce.

Kate McCall

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