We recently started screening every single internship posted on IndianaINTERN.net. We quickly realized this is a time-consuming process. But it truly increases the quality of internships we share with students. I noticed, however, a common trend: Employers were putting a lot of emphasis on experiences as opposed to desired skills from potential applicants.
I see a lot of internship postings requesting specific qualifications. The employer limits its search to juniors or seniors, a student with a certain GPA, number of courses completed and/or total years’ experience. There are plenty of other attributes that should be considered when trying to find your next intern.
When you review an applicant’s resumé, it’s easy to hone in on how many internships they have or have not completed. Instead of looking solely at quantity, focus on abilities developed during their professional experiences.
If the applicant doesn’t have an internship background, avoid discounting them. Look at the skills they learned through their previous work or extracurricular experiences. Does it really matter how many internships an applicant has completed if they possess the competencies needed to be successful in yours?
If you interview an applicant with minimal professional experience, ask about the work they do in the classroom. Tackling a difficult group project or drafting a robust research paper, for instance, are perfect opportunities for their critical thinking, problem solving, communication and teamwork skills to grow. Students can also acquire knowledge about technical skills like utilizing specific software, graphic design programs or accounting tools via their coursework.
Extracurricular or volunteer activities
Volunteering and extracurricular activities are excellent platforms for students to develop career readiness skills outside of a traditional professional environment. Clubs, teams, sororities and fraternities promote event planning, recruitment, teamwork and communication skills-building. Volunteerism can deliver the same experiences while allowing applicants to share what causes they feel passionately about.
What the applicant has to gain
Sometimes the applicant with the most experience isn’t the best fit for your internship. During the initial screening process of applicants, ask yourself if the experiences your internship offers align with those illustrated in their resumé and cover letter.
At the interview, make sure to ask your applicants why they’re interested in your internship. What do they hope to achieve from it? Look for the applicant who will benefit the most from your company’s internship. Internships are meant to be learning opportunities that provide interns with transferable skills for the future.
The next time you post an internship, really ask yourself if a student’s class standing or GPA affects their level of success in your internship. Instead, focus on the capabilities needed for success. Avoid limiting your applicants because you just might miss out on the perfect one.