5 Skills to Look for in Summer Interns

By Alicia Geigel on April 4, 2022

Spring is here, which means summer will soon be right around the corner. As the warmer weather rolls around, students will be looking for internship opportunities to fill up their vacant summer months. As an employer and recruiter, you can definitely get bombarded with applications in the upcoming months, which is why it is important now, more than ever, to be on the lookout for the best skills each candidate brings to the table.

For all interns, regardless of what industry or field they are coming into, it is important to have a general skill set to reference for applications. Specific skills can be determined during the application process or even later into the hiring process, but for all candidates, having general skills will determine how well they perform alongside others and with workplace tasks.

Looking for skills in interns may seem like a breeze at points, but this task can become difficult if the skills aren’t spelled out on their resume or not easily accessible through a portfolio. If you are an employer or recruiter that is planning on hiring interns over the summer, here are the most important skills to look for as you review applications.

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Image via Pexels

1. Time Management: Regardless of the internship position or field of work, time management is a necessary skill to look for in an intern. When looking for an intern, gauge their time management skills by asking questions about personal responsibility and discipline. Are you able to complete tasks on time? Are you able to be responsible with your time, and not let tasks pile up until their deadline? Can you perform well without having constant reminders and nagging? The answer to these questions can help you find a candidate with the appropriate skills. A blog post by Way Up further notes, “Employers want to know that you can prioritize responsibilities and recognize when it’s appropriate to multitask or focus on one particular project at a time.”

2. Teamwork: How well are you able to work with others? Share your ideas and take in the suggestions or criticism from coworkers? Carry your part of a workload for a project? These are all questions to ask the potential intern, as they all relate to their ability to effectively work with members of a team, such as coworkers. The skill of good teamwork is applicable in nearly all job fields and it is important that the candidate can show that they have what is necessary to work with others, rather than being a control freak. Some qualities that can fall under this skill include reliability, professionalism, conflict management, and collaboration, Allison Doyle of The Balance notes.

3. Communication: Perhaps the most commonly referenced skill in the job world, communication is a skill that is necessary for any internship, and an important skill to look for in an internship candidate. A person with good communication skills can easily relay information to others, as well as be attentive, a good listener, and write clearly/effectively. You want to look for someone who is able to demonstrate great written, verbal, and interpersonal communication skills, as those skills can help contribute to better work production and generally, a better workflow.

4. Critical Thinking: When a stressful situation arises, are you more likely to charge at it head-on, ready to solve it, or get easily overwhelmed and break down? Can you pick apart pieces of information to understand a greater problem? These questions can determine your future intern’s ability to think critically in a stressful, unexpected situation. Critical thinking is a skill that anyone can appreciate and seek out in a work environment, as it shows that the person has the ability to reason, analyze, and organize research or ideas necessary to figure out a solution to a problem.

5. Miscellaneous: There are so many other skills that are worthwhile that haven’t been mentioned yet, so it’s important for you as an employer/recruiter to dig deep to bring out the necessary skills in your intern candidate that apply to the respective position they are applying for. If you are hiring for an internship involving customer service, phone etiquette and the ability to multitask are both important. If you are looking to hire an intern for a sports coaching position, giving motivation, boosting enthusiasm, and goal setting are skills necessary for that position. When looking into a candidate’s resume and interviewing them for the job, be sure to specifically look for the skills the position requires and skills that you desire in a candidate, so you can determine the best fit for the position.

job, work, paperwork, application, hands, laptop

Image via Pexels

As an employer/recruiter, finding the right summer intern is a process. Sifting through applications, filtering through candidates, and determining the right skill set takes time, but once you know the right skills to look for, the right intern will be easy to find.

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