What To Look For In An Intern?

Submitted 4 years ago by Dan Trepanier 

What qualities/attributes do you look for in an Intern? Motivation, Willingness to learn, Determination to succeed, Courage to overcome obstacles.

intern-queen-1024x682.jpg

We asked a group of leaders what they look for in an Intern and here is what some of them said.....

'While I did need help in the office, I wanted someone who would be invested in the work and the opportunity to learn and develop new skills. I truly believe that motivation is the strongest learning tool.'

'I knew I could teach everything I knew to the candidate who was motivated and willing to learn. What I couldn’t teach, I could find alternates resources such as training courses or a willing colleague with a specific expertise.'

'I learned very early in my career at Environment Canada, you are only as smart as the people you know. I don’t always have the answers, but I probably know the person who can fill in the gaps.'

'I also wanted to hire the candidate who most needed the opportunity. Sometimes it isn’t the person with the best resume.  One particular candidate we chose had no office experience but proved she was willing to go to great lengths to improve her skills and develop new ones.  Her writing and math skills appeared weak and we offered her the internship on the condition that she be willing to enroll in English and Math tutoring to improve her skills. We considered it part of her internship and allowed her the time to attend classes three days a week in the morning so that she was in the office three afternoons and two full days.  Eventually she did not require the help and remained in the office full time.'

'I recently had the opportunity to speak to some of the new interns about motivation and was very impressed with their willingness to open up and ask questions, to put themselves out there and ask some difficult and personally challenging questions.  We have this opportunity to open a door for someone who has made a life changing decision for themselves and is looking to change the direction of their lives.  I encourage all mentors to look for that individual who will most benefit from your guidance rather than just the person with the most experience or the one who you think requires less time or training.  I invite you to put yourselves out there like these interns do and learn from them as you teach.'

  • Not everyone is the same, accept that we are all different and learn in different ways and at different speeds
  • Ask us what works for us - Instructions in writing, Demonstrations of tasks, Structure or flexibility
  • Take your time to explain - it's appreciated
  • Be patient, don't take for granted that everyone knows how to use a photocopier
  • Repeat things if you have to and don't appear frustrated
  • Tell us how we are doing and ask our opinion, be open to self-improvement while expecting it from others

I have asked my interns what advice they would give to mentors that could help other interns as they move into their new internships.

  • Not everyone is the same, accept that we are all different and learn in different ways and at different speeds
  • Ask us what works for us; individual people have individual needs.
  • Instructions in writing
  • Demonstrations of tasks
  • Structure or flexibility
  • Take your time to explain – it’s appreciated
  • Be patient don’t take for granted that everyone knows how to use a photocopier
  • Repeat things if you have to and don’t appear frustrated
  • Tell us how we are doing and ask our opinion, be open to self improvement while expecting it from others

Originally written by Paige Gilmore from Environment Canada and adapded for the YMCA of Greater Toronto