5 Essential Qualities of a Summer Intern

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By Charlie Balk Though Likeable Media has ended its official "Buzz Builder" internship program, we still rely heavily on the help of entry-level, part-time Associate Community Managers. These ACMs are an essential part of the company's ability to provide round-the-clock active listening and engagement on behalf of our clients.

So how do we select the best and brightest who will be ready for the responsibility of managing communities? These are the "5 Ps" we look for -- essential qualities of any successful summer intern.

Professionalism

You can easily gauge how invested a candidate is early on in the application process. While skimming through cover letters, I take the time to look closely for indicators of lack attention to detail or general care. People who take shortcuts or rush a job application are likely to take the same approach to their work once they've been hired. The same goes for interviews: it's important to speak clearly and thoughtfully, while also making it clear that you've researched the company before applying. I don't want people who are looking for just any old job/internship that will take them.

Predictability

Though home runs are what we all want in a hire, sometimes singles and doubles are the more attainable goal. I want to know I can depend on our ACMs to be on when they're supposed to (they all work a number of hours remotely) and that they'll be consistent in their quality of work. An intern who's consistently average is more valuable to me than an intern who does great work inconsistently.

Passion

I'm always curious to know what compelled candidates to apply to Likeable. If it's not an interest in social media or a passion for our mission, I worry that the individual won't care enough to consistently provide high quality work. The amount of "hand-holding" our full-time staff is able to do with ACMs varies a great deal, and I need to know that our part-time staff won't lose interest in the job along the way. If they're passionate about Likeable and about learning about social media marketing, the rest of the job tends to fall into place.

Practice

By "practice," I mean that the applicant must have relevant experience and transferable skills. For ACMs, this doesn't mean that I only hire people with a year of social media experience, though of course a couple semester-long internships in social media, marketing, or PR is good to see. Relevant experience not only shows interest in the field, it also shows that the candidate is familiar with a "real-world" work environment. Experience can also be a good indicator of the two "Ps" mentioned above: passion and professionalism.

That being said, experience isn't everything.  As my colleague Rachel once said: "I hire people. If I have the right people, I can teach them the rest." There's a lot of truth in that statement.

Potential Fit

It's always difficult deciding whether a typo in a resume (or any similar misstep by an applicant) is going to be a clear indicator of things to come or a rare blip from an otherwise good fit. A great majority of the people I've hired who haven't wound up working out for one reason or another showed signs of their shortcomings when I hired them. But on the flip side, there are just as many instances where I decided to see past potential red flags in people who wound up fitting in great.

Because you'll rarely have the "perfect" applicant, hiring will always rely heavily on your instincts about a person and how they would fit into your team, their assigned role, and the office's overall culture. One worthwhile exercise is to try to visualize the applicant in the seat or surroundings you're hiring them for and imagine him/her addressing typical tasks or duties that would be expected. If it looks alright in your head, odds are it will work in real life. Again, the most important thing is trusting your "gut."

Think you have what it takes to be part of our team? Apply here.