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Essential advice on intern intake

Ally Van Deuren
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Nearly two thirds of professionals surveyed (65 percent) said passion is the top attribute they look for when hiring an intern. Significantly trailing were an intern’s performance (21 percent), university they attended (7 percent), grades (4 percent) and pedigree (3 percent). Contributor Ally Van Deuren, Lead – Korn Ferry University Relations Center of Excellence Lead North America.

When asked what is the biggest intern performance dealbreaker, the largest percentage (37 percent) said entitlement. In addition more than two-thirds (67 percent) said learning should be the most important area of focus for interns.

Coming from a highly regarded university or having a strong pedigree will only get intern candidates so far. What really matters is attitude and their willingness to work, learn and grow.”

Virtually all of the respondents (98 percent) said internships are important to landing a job, and 99 percent said they are likely to hire interns on for full-time positions if the intern performs well. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) said they personally had an internship that led to a full-time job.

Internships are a key step in becoming a qualified professional. Success however is a two-way street – interns need to ask questions and stretch their capabilities, and employers must offer meaningful and important work to help the intern advance.”

The survey also found that professional networking still rules — the top way bosses find high-performing interns is through a connection.  Today’s interns could be tomorrow’s organisational leaders. It is incumbent upon managers to take the intern hiring process seriously to help their organisations succeed long term.

About the survey
Nearly 200 (183) professionals across a wide range of industries took the survey in late May 2018. Due to rounding, figures may not equal 100.

What is the top attribute you look for when considering hiring an intern?

Pedigree: 3 percent
Grades: 4 percent
University they attended: 7 percent
Passion: 65 percent
Performance: 21 percent

What are the biggest intern performance dealbreakers?

Showing up late/leaving early: 13 percent
Not understanding the company: 19 percent
Bad cultural fit: 31 percent
Entitlement: 37 percent

What’s the most important thing interns need to focus on?

Being indespensible:  9 percent
Building their network on the job: 5 percent
Demonstrating passion: 19 percent
Learning: 67 percent

 If an intern performs well on the job, how likely is it that your organisation will hire them?

Highly likely: 79 percent
Somewhat likely: 20 percent
Unlikely: 1 percent

How important are internships to securing a job?

Very important: 48 percent
Somewhat important: 50 percent
Not important: 2 percent

Would you hire a college grad if he or she hadn’t had a previous internship?

Yes: 80 percent
No: 20 percent

How have you found your highest-performing interns?

Campus job fairs: 25 percent
By them submitting their resumes online: 20 percent
Through a connection: 35 percent
By them proactively contacting you: 20 percent

Did you have an internship that led to a full-time job?                                                   

Yes: 62 percent
No: 38 percent


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