Long gone are the days when interns filed, fetched coffee and made copies – or at least they should be. Today’s interns are expected to collaborate and contribute – in other words, to PRODUCE! This is true of All Terrain’s summer internship program. Our program emphasizes an educational, real-world experience that prepares interns for the workplace. But given that many intern candidates don’t have significant work experience, how do we determine which candidates will be successful?
Here’s what we look for…
1. TRANSLATABLE EXPERIENCES
With limited previous experience, the question becomes which competencies does a candidate have that would translate well to a professional setting. Competencies are typically “soft” skills, such as organization, communication or critical thinking as opposed to budgeting or PowerPoint, which are technical skills.
Translatable experience can come from involvement in school projects, committees, organization membership or volunteer work, to name a few. Involvement in these groups can indicate a candidate’s competencies, such as communication, teamwork, problem solving and time management skills. For example, if you are a student recruiter for your school, chances are you are well organized and possess strong communication and/or presentation skills. If you are on the fundraising committee for your sorority or fraternity, you probably are good at teamwork and organization. If you are a project or committee leader, this may indicate that you have initiative and/or leadership skills.
2. ABILITY TO CONVEY SKILLS IN AN INTERVIEW
At All Terrain, we utilize behavior-based interviewing (also known as competency-based interviewing) which gives candidates the opportunity to demonstrate their potential by providing specific examples of how they handled similar situations in the past. For example, for time management, we might ask the candidate to “Tell us about a time when you were particularly effective on prioritizing tasks and completing a project on schedule?” To determine a candidate’s initiative, we may ask “What did you do to prepare for this interview?” Answers to those types of questions are good indicators of how the candidate may conduct themselves in the workplace.
When interviewing, sell yourself by highlighting your experience and competencies that are relevant to the position. This requires understanding which skills the company is looking for and translating your experience with examples that highlight those competencies. Thoughtful examples and answers will help the interviewer better understand your capabilities and the value you may bring to the intern role.
3. ENTHUSIASM FOR THE OPPORTUNITY
In addition to highlighting your relevant skills, enthusiasm for the opportunity is key. Do your homework on the company, talk about why you are excited about THIS particular opportunity and convey some of the things you would like to learn during your time there. Ask about the company culture, the expectations, what makes an intern successful and convey why you would be the best candidate for the position. Let the interviewer know that you are eager to learn, willing to work hard and ready to contribute.
Follow all of these suggestions, and your odds of getting the internship should greatly improve. Just remember, when you land the internship, be ready to learn, contribute and produce. And don’t forget to ask for a reference on your way out.