7 Things Employers Want Future Interns to Know

When you are looking for an internship, it can sometimes feel like an impossible task. It’s easy to fill out a lot of applications and miss the mark simply because you don’t know what employers are looking for.

If you want to be successful in finding an internship, it is useful to put yourself in the employer’s shoes. If you can work out what they’re looking for, you’ll be able to tailor any applications so that you will be able to impress them. To do this you will need to do some research, read their company website carefully, talk to someone from the company if they are visiting your university and discuss all of this with a careers professional.

Each employer will be looking for something subtly different. That is why it is worth doing some research on every employer that you apply to. However, we’ve put together a list of things that internship employers want you to know.

1. Employers do want to hire you!

It is important to remember that the whole recruitment process is set up to find people who can do jobs that employers need to fill.

They want you to succeed, and aren’t trying to catch you out or make your life a misery. The average employer has a team of four people to run their recruitment process and spends £3,310 to attract and select every person that they hire.

They want you to apply, and, if you are right for their firm, they want you to be successful.

2. Prepare for the interviews and assessment centres

The questions will likely be similar to standard job interview questions, such as ‘Why have you applied for an internship with us?’, or the dreaded ‘Tell me about yourself’ question. Having clear answers for these questions will help you a lot. If you can, practice with friends or housemates at university, or with a family member. You will likely also be asked about your future ambitions.

As you are applying for a placement with the company, this is very important and tells the employer about your ambitions within your chosen industry, as well as if you would be interested in continuing a career with them following your graduation. Think carefully about how you would answer this question before your interview.

Assessment centres are part of most internship application processes. This will often involve days where you will demonstrate your skills. This includes your more general skills like communication, but could also include more specific skills and knowledge related to your chosen field. Either way, research the company and find out as much as you can about the process before the day.

3. Meeting employers before you apply will give you an advantage

National Intern Week is coming up 26th-30th September this year. This is your chance to meet some of the UK’s biggest intern employers like Amazon, Network Rail and Royal Mail.

Our live sessions give you exclusive access to recruiters you won’t get anywhere else. You can ask them your questions and get exclusive application advice. It also shows an interest in the company and will give you an edge over other candidates applying for the same internships as you.

4. Don’t let your background prevent you from applying

In 2022, lots of employers are concerned about privilege and are increasingly committed to increasing the diversity of their firms. You’ve done extremely well to get to this stage in your university career, so don’t be put off when applying for internship roles either.

You’re already proving yourself academically, you just need to show this in a working environment too! Therefore, even if you feel like a particular company or job might not be for you, it is still worth testing yourself and applying anyway. If during the interview you decide it’s not for you, that’s fine.

5. Show you can work in a team

A key skill you will need to demonstrate to employers is evidence of teamwork. This can be in your personal and professional/student life.

It doesn’t matter if you haven’t had a full time job before, employers hiring for interns won’t expect you to have worked full time before. You might have had a part-time job though, either at or before university. This can also include any voluntary work you may have done, this is still important evidence that you have been able to work in a team alongside others.

Another great way of showing your teamwork skills can be through your time at university. Have you worked on group projects with other people, or contributed to group presentations? This shows you have been able to work side-by-side with others towards a common goal.

6. Employers like people with numerical skills

Employers like people who are comfortable with figures. Lots of employers are struggling to find workers in STEM jobs (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), as well as technical IT positions. If you’re currently studying a degree that involves mathematics or engineering, make sure to emphasise this in your internship applications.

Even if you’re not doing a STEM or IT degree, this is still an area you can work on. Get up to date on your Microsoft Excel skills, or do an online course on data analysis.

7. Know why you want to apply for the internship

When applying for an internship, it is crucial to know why you want to apply for the role in the first place. You should have an idea of what your goals are, and what skills you hope to gain from the placement. If there is also an area you would like to specialise in, or learn more about, make sure you mention it in your application and interview.

Employers want interns who have clear ideas of why they want the role, and who are able to demonstrate their passion for the industry or business. Knowing what you want to get from your placement is a great way to do this.

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