What skills do host companies look for in graduate interns?

Graduate internships can be a wonderful professional experience where you can explore and develop concepts you have been introduced to during your studies.

If you are a graduate looking for a temporary home or a paid internship after graduation, you may need to think out of the box to get a coveted spot. Regardless of industry, employers will always look for a core set of skills and traits when reviewing internship applicants from a pool of Australian graduates.

Be aware that your prospective employer is interested in far more than your Grade Point Average (GPA). Communicating your technical proficiency and soft and transferable skills to a prospective employer will stand you apart from other candidates when you apply for intern jobs.

Below is a list of top skills companies and employers look for when selecting an intern or graduate:


1 Good communication skills

Communication skills are critically important in an internship. Communication in the workplace is key to engagement, productivity, transparency, and collaboration. Effective workplace communication drives better results for individuals, teams and companies.

Here are a few tips for graduate interns to ensure they communicate effectively and get the best benefits of an internship.


Be a better listener

Listening to what another person is saying, instead of interrupting or formulating a response, will develop you both personally and professionally. In addition, asking for clarification when something is unclear is vital to avoiding misunderstandings and facilitating the best outcomes.

Take notes where possible

Relying on memory can be tricky; taking notes during or post a meeting, conference, or conversation is always a good idea. This will help you to be accurate and streamline your thinking.

Make a call

If you have important information to communicate, consider calling the person instead of sending an email. Sending a follow-up email to confirm your communication is also a good habit.

Treat everyone equally and with respect

Treat others as your equal and be professional and positive in all your exchanges in the workplace. This should be a given, but it is always important to be mindful of your interactions and to work on your interpersonal skills.


2 Commercial Awareness

Commercial awareness refers to your general knowledge of business, your business experience and, more specifically, an understanding of the industry you want to enter.

Having a grasp of commercial awareness shows you have taken the time to understand how a company works, makes a profit and fits into the wider industry. Astute commercial awareness is not something you develop overnight; it is part of your ongoing development through work experience, internships and research.

Stay informed by reading and watching quality sources of news, subscribing to key industry publications, networking, joining clubs and always asking questions.


3 Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyse and evaluate a situation or issue to form a judgement. Critical-thinking skills connect and organise ideas. This involves asking questions and looking at problems through a different lens/angle to find creative solutions to challenges.


4 Collaboration

As an intern and part of a wider team, you will need to collaborate with company employees and stakeholders. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses will allow you to navigate how best to contribute. Working on your weaknesses will also develop you professionally and, over time, help you to bring out the best in others.


5 Initiative

Here are a few ways you can take the initiative in your graduate internship to ensure your experience is mutually beneficial for you and your host company:

  • Ask questions
  • Network
  • Be proactive
  • Think outside the box
  • Volunteer
  • Show your passion


6 Adaptability

In your role as an intern, you will find yourself supporting the team in various ways daily. While you may have a particular area of interest, a willingness to explore and become familiar with different parts of a company’s inner workings will be seen as an asset and allow you to broaden your knowledge and skills.


The Bottom Line for Graduate Internships

Finding success in a certain field often requires certain skills and traits that employers in that industry seek when they are evaluating graduates for intern jobs. With this in mind, it is essential to research your professional niche and acquaint yourself with these desired qualities so you can pitch yourself as the ideal intern candidate for the host company.


At Gradability and Performance Education, our main objective is to help you be successful and launch your career in Australia.


And that’s why we are now issuing Digital Credentials as part of our Professional Year Program – so you can showcase your soft skills and stand out from the crowd.


Find out more about what digital credentials are and how to use them.


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