Earlier in the year, two Peer Educators from the Career Services office decided to talk to employers about their internship programs. Andrew and I made our way down to the U of M Job Fair in February. We were prepared with questions and equipped with iPads to collect the data. At the end of the day we had communicated with 30 different employers and gathered some great information. Each of the interactions were brief so we only had a chance to ask five questions.
So what did we ask? In regards to obtaining the internship, we wanted to know what the top traits employers were looking for in their potential interns. Some of the key words we heard were: communication, passion, and leadership. When piecing together your resume, it is critical to highlight your experiences and expertise in these areas. Employers will be sure to notice and it will help you to stand out from your peers.
We also wanted to collect information about what an internship was like during the employment period. We asked how big of a contribution interns made to the business as well as what types of activities they usually did. Not surprisingly, we had a broad range of answers. Some of the most recurring activities were: paperwork, projects, and “real world” contributions. Before you accept an internship offer, ask your employer what your average day will look like. This will help lessen any shock of activities you weren’t expecting to do.
Summarized above are some of our results. By this summer, the full report will be available online at www.d.umn.edu/careers. We are looking forward to continuing our research in the fall since we have now seen what works well and what doesn’t! We are generating new questions and will be attending a variety of different career fairs to gather a wide-range of information. Given the opportunity to ask an employer any question about internships, what would you want to know?