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September 26, 2013
5 Traits Your Intern Should Have
It's not that hard to find an intern.
However, it can be quite challenging to find a great intern. While some people simply assume that interns are a way to get free labor, your business won't benefit from hiring just any intern. In fact, the wrong fit can actually reduce your productivity.
In order to find an intern who can help your business and who you will be able to help move forward with their career, here are the five traits to look for during your initial search and subsequent interviews:
Genuine Enthusiasm
There's simply no substitute for someone who's enthusiastic about an opportunity. In fact, this trait is so important that it's almost guaranteed someone who's truly enthusiastic but possibly lacking in formal qualifications will do a better job than someone who looks more qualified on paper but is just going through the motions to secure a position.
Not Afraid to Ask Questions
Internships are all about gaining experience by learning firsthand. Since no intern is going to know everything when they first come into your office, you don't want someone who thinks they need to act like they know it all. Instead, you want an intern who's going to ask whenever they have a question. If you're worried that you're going to spend all your time answering questions, you can rest assured that as long as you select the right candidate, they'll only ever need to ask you a specific question once.
Finding and adding an intern to your team takes time. Because this isn't something that generally happens overnight, the last thing you want is to go through the entire process of finding the right candidate, only to have them flake out on you in as little as a month. Although there's no guaranteed way to gauge someone's commitment with absolute certainty, you can get a good idea by asking plenty of questions. And if you have a gut feeling about a candidate's level of commitment, chances are it's correct.
Knows How to Prioritize
When they first start, you're probably going to be fairly involved in your intern's daily role. But once they get a feel for how things work, the ideal situation is for them to have more independence. Because the last thing any business owner wants to do is micromanage an intern throughout their entire program, it's important for an intern to be capable of taking a larger project and figuring out how to make it more manageable by breaking it into smaller steps.
Able to Adapt
Since you're doing something new, there's always a chance that the role or responsibilities you give your intern are going to change. As a result, you don't want a candidate who's going to want to stay set in their ways. Instead, you want an intern who's happy to change course if that's what in the best interest of your business.
Even though it will require some extra effort, by taking the time to find an intern who's the right fit for your business, you can ensure that your new internship program is a positive experience for both you and the candidate you ultimately choose.

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Jesse Galt is a freelancer who writes about a wide range of business and consumer topics, from how to get your company to the top of Google search, to how one can save on crib mattresses and plush toys.
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