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TOP 5 Skills Every Employer Looks For in Interns

Posted by | March 24, 2015 | Scholarships_CareerTips

“I am looking for an internship, but I think I do not have the right skills with me. Are there any skills that employers are looking for?” asked Janet Wanjiru, University of Nairobi student in an event that I recently attended.

While an internship is the lowest entry level position you can land, for some it is hard. It does not require experience, but there are some skills that most employers are looking for.

What are some of the skills employers look for in interns?

Time management skills
Do you find that you rush from task to task without ever finishing anything? This shows that you have poor time management skills. To improve, understand what is urgent in your list of duties and tackle that first.

For effective time management skills, Martin Githaiga, a HR Associate at Jumia Kenya advices that interns should be punctual in the morning and leave a bit late in the evening. This gives you time to execute all duties of the day.

Communication skills
So you think writing ‘xaxa’ or ‘fwend’ makes you cool? This is an indication that your communication skills need to improve. How well you pass on information to others is a measure of how good your communication skills are.

For example, having the ability to speak properly while maintaining good eye contact, tailoring your language to your audience, listening, presenting your ideas in a well crafted manner and writing clearly requires good communication skills.

Positive Attitude
Employers want someone who is optimistic. This does not necessarily mean someone who is always smiling, but someone who is positive when faced with challenges.

This is an attitude that sees the glass half full instead of half empty. You can never be taught on how to have a good attitude so instead of focusing on the technical skill you learnt in school, being positive goes a long way.

A positive attitude is achieved by thinking positive thoughts, focusing on your strengths and having confidence in them.

Important skills that employers look for in interns

Are you someone who can work on their own and take opportunities that will benefit the employer? If you answered yes, that is initiative. It requires creative thinking, confidence and knowledge.

In an interview demonstrate this by asking well thought out questions such as “what are your expectations of me in this role”. For those in internships come up with new proposals and ideas.

“When coming up with new ideas; analyze the methods that the organization uses and propose a better method. You can even offer to demonstrate through a meeting or practically doing it. As long as it meets the target,” says Vincent Macharia, a HR Officer at The Copy Cat Limited.

“If you’re interested in something, you’ll do it if it is convenient. If you’re committed to something, you’ll do it no matter what.”

Commitment is different from interest and involves the following being punctual (do not be late for an interview), respecting workplace rules such as dress code, personal phone use or office romances and attending meetings.

For those already in internships make sure you finish your internship program.

“Finishing your whole internship helps show the aspect of commitment to your future employer,” Mr. Githaiga advices.

If you do not possess all the skills mentioned above, get there a little step at a time by honing these skills in your daily activities.