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Recruiting Interns – from the Employer’s Perspective

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Temoc on his way to the Career Expo

Congratulations to everyone who completed an internship this past summer! At my firm, we just had a chance to say goodbye to our summer interns. The department I work in primarily takes interns for the summer, so this was my first chance to see our internship program from the employer's point of view. Since the career expo is coming up soon, I thought it would be helpful to let you know what we think of you.

Going Through Recruitment

You are awkward, and it's OK. Looking back at past emails I sent to recruiters and employees, I cringe at the types of questions I asked. It's hard to know what types of questions are the right ones to ask, but go ahead and ask all the questions you have! Don't be afraid of asking what you worry is a “dumb” question — employers know that you've never had this type of role before.

When comparing different companies, do your best to find out what you'll actually be doing at your job. "Analyst" and "Associate" are the most generic job titles out there, and you could really be doing anything. While you want to know about the company's culture, target your questions to what your day-to-day might be like. Who will you be working with? Will you be completing a project, or are you helping with daily operations? Is there a formal internship program?

Find Ways to Stand Out

You’ve got the internship, Great! Now, to get the full-time offer: have a good work ethic and get your assigned tasks done well and on time. If you can, volunteer for more work. As an intern, when I finished my work and I asked for more, at times I was given tasks reserved for higher-level staff. Look for more challenging tasks that you'd be willing to take on. If you notice one of your co-workers has a repetitive task, such as a report they complete once a week, ask them if you can get trained on how to do it. You'll lower their workload and learn something new.

Because the role I have with analytics is specialized within the firm, I absolutely loved it when interns reached out and asked me to talk about my work. If I have the chance to get to know you, tell you about my job and learn about your background, I will like you a lot more and could help you find your ideal role within the firm. Once I get to know you better, I'm more likely to be an advocate for you and introduce you to tasks within your interests. Find mentors who will champion for you in the company, and you will have a better experience overall.

Leave an Impression

Even if you choose not to go back to the company, you'll still be remembered. I love intern stories, and I still hear good stories about people who interned two or three years ago. I also still have conversations with co-workers about my performance as an intern! I get to look back and see some of the work I did, and it's awesome to see how much I have learned since then. Know that even if you are only at a company for a short amount of time, you will still leave a lasting impression.

If your firm offers intern socials or team dinners, be sure to take advantage of all the networking opportunities that you have. Even if you don't end up working at the same company, the other interns you get to know will be a part of your professional network. Having other interns and co-workers as contacts may one day come in handy.

Your Internship Offer Is NOT an Automatic Job Offer

Over the course of your internship, there will likely be meetings between the employees to discuss your work. There are meetings to decide whether you should be extended an offer. You can't take an internship offer as an automatic job offer — sometimes it can be pretty competitive. You're being tested on whether you not only are a good work fit (in that you can pick up the material) but that you also are a good culture fit.

It's pretty safe to assume that everyone is always watching you. I don't mean to scare you; of course co-workers will know that small mistakes aren't a big deal. However, if you spend all of your time on social media, if you're slow to get your work done or if you fall asleep at the client meeting, chances are the managers will hear about it. Even if the likelihood of getting a full-time offer is high, you will still want to show the company your best self, and make everyone excited for having selected you as an intern.

And at the End of It All…

If you receive a full-time offer at the end of your internship, congratulations! However, if you don't see yourself working at that company, you're in a great position because you still have the opportunity to go through full-time recruitment at the career expo in the fall. If you do not receive a full-time offer, it’s OK because there are so many opportunities out there.

No matter the outcome, your internship was a learning experience that you can apply to your new classes and your future full-time role. Don’t worry about making mistakes — your employer knows that you’re a student. Do your best to contribute and stand out, and you are likely to leave a positive impression

Michelle Abuda

J. Michelle Abuda earned her BS in Management Information Systems and MS in Business Analytics from the Naveen Jindal School of Management. Currently, she works at Crowe Horwath as a Regulatory Compliance Risk Consultant in the Columbus, Ohio office. During her time at JSOM, she was actively involved as a leader on the Dean's Council. She helped found the JSOM Book Club, as well as the TEDxUTD Club. Read more articles

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