Five Things We Look for When Hiring an Intern

Eric TielesBlog

Interns Shayla Simmons and Tim Dower collaborate on a project

It’s no secret that the right internship can be tremendously helpful for young people’s careers. Benefits of an internship can include experience, networking opportunities, class credit (if a school recognizes it) and a paycheck (assuming it’s a paid internship … for the record, MP&F’s interns are paid). Given all of these positives, it isn’t surprising that landing an internship becomes more competitive each year.

While I make no claims to represent the thinking of all hiring managers, future intern candidates could benefit by paying attention to the following five things:

1.) Resume Quality and Length. There are plenty of resources on building a strong resume, but I will point out two red flags I often see. First, the resume has imperfect spelling, grammar and/or punctuation. If I see it, then it’s a hard “no.” It sends a message that you don’t care about detail. Second, the resume is too long. The bulk of the resumes I receive are from college students who have little work experience. That’s fine and to be expected! But, I don’t need to see every babysitting job and participation award you received. Be smart and thoughtful about how your resume represents you.

2.) Communication Skills and Following Directions. Communication is part of the job here. I look for candidates who can express their ideas clearly and be direct in all their responses, from setting up the interview to the interview itself. Beyond that, being able to follow directions is essential. If I ask for a writing sample, attach a writing sample. The fastest way into the pass pile is to ignore directions. Be able to listen, comprehend and communicate at all times.

3.) Interest in the Work. I look for candidates who have taken the time to research and taken an interest in our agency. Have you visited our website? Do you know some of our clients? What has our agency done recently? I look for candidates who not only want to help our agency succeed, but are eager to learn and grow professionally. Fret not if you are at the beginning of your internship journey. Is there anything you are currently learning that will be helpful? Leverage what experience you do have and apply that to the internship.

4.) Confidence. A candidate who is engaged in the conversation, looks me in the eye when talking and answering questions, has a good handshake, and speaks clearly and confidently is someone who will stand out. The worst interviews are those where the candidate seems to be looking away, is unsure in their answers and generally comes across as lacking confidence. You know yourself better than anyone else, so make me remember you.

5.) The Follow-up. The art of the follow-up is a nice touch that I see so few internship candidates actually do. Send an email or note if you really want to go above and beyond. It can be a short thank-you or even a quick follow-up question about the internship. It tells me you are really interested in the internship and can definitely give you the edge. Follow up after the interview!

These may be commonsense tips, but keeping them in mind can be the difference between an internship offer and a polite decline.

And when you’ve landed the perfect internship, here’s a free piece of advice: Soak it all in, but always be prepared. You may even land a job interview out of your internship, but that’s a completely different blog post for another day.

For more information about our internship opportunities and application deadlines, visit https://mpf.com/join-the-team/.

Eric is an account supervisor and serves as MP&F’s intern co-coordinator.