Qualities to Look for in Northeast Indiana Interns

June 3rd, 2019

Tips on How to Choose the Best Intern for the Job 

Finding the perfect employee that fits the job description and the culture of the company is hard to do in any industry. Not only must candidates be judged on their professionalism and experience, but also how they hold themselves and their team fit. This can be even more difficult when looking for interns whose experience may be very limited.

After talking to multiple companies within Northeast Indiana with robust and successful internship programs, we came up with a list of qualities every company should look for when looking for the right intern for them.

1. Prior Work Experience:

This does not necessarily mean that they have had another internship. In fact, there is a high chance that those applying for your internship will have few or no direct experience and they will be looking for a change to land their first internship. Flipping burgers at Wendy’s or selling shoes at Footlocker teaches transferable skills like customer service, punctuality and communication. Additionally, having prior work experience shows that a student knows how to juggle responsibilities and will not be overwhelmed by showing up to work every day.

Vera Bradley’s Jill Dougal, who helps oversee their internship program, explained, “Whether they have had a prior internship experience, or whether they have just had some work experience, we just want to see someone who can balance something. I don’t care if that’s working at Dairy Queen or babysitting.”

2. Time Management:

Time management and the ability to get assignments done on schedule is a crucial skill to have when working any job. This is also a skill that can be learned before an intern starts at your company. Interns can practice time management at school by working on assignments, studying, working (hopefully) and conducting their social lives. They may also be involved in other organizations whether it be in a band, a sport or a club. By being involved in multiple activities in and out of school shows their commitment and time management skills.

Top things to look for in an intern for the job

3. Motivation/Work Ethic:

There are multiple ways a company can look for motivation and work ethic. The most obvious place to look at is the student’s grades. This will reflect how much they care about their education and how hard they work in school. The same level of motivation and work could be translated to your company. Another way to look for these qualities is if a student is involved. A student who is involved in other activities such as sports or student government did not just get there by barely sliding by. They had to work hard to get where they are in those organizations and could apply that hard work to their time at your company.

INGUARD’s CEO Parker Beauchamp had this to say about what he looks for in an intern: “I look to see that they are smart, personable, hardworking and honest. Because if they have that will or desire about them to constantly be improving or bettering themselves, then those are the people you want to attach yourselves to and develop.”

4. Professionalism:

When hiring an intern, it is important to remember that they will be representing the company just like any other employee. If they are not professional in the hiring process, it is unlikely that they will act professional during their time working for the company. Sweetwater’s Jen Lock, who oversees placing interns, said that she looks for candidates going above and beyond what is expected.

“When I receive professional cover letters and resumes, that stands out. A lot of people just go online and fill out the application. That is OK, but those who go a step above and beyond, that goes a long way.”

While many companies look for these traits in any employee, it’s important to remember an intern is just like any new team member, too. Yes, they may only be joining your team for a short amount of time, but they will become a part of the company. This list is not everything you should look for in an intern, but it is a good start. As you hire more interns, come up with your own list of traits, too!

- By Jakob Coker