Employers’ insights — Joyce’s Career Tip of the Week

Last week, Fulton Schools underclassmen heard from industry professionals who shared what they look for when hiring interns. The panel included: Pam Goux, Talent Acquisition Specialist, Medtronic; Gregory Haggerty, Chief Executive Officer, Dibble Engineering; Jennifer McGovern, Human Resource Manager, Emerald AR Systems; and Matt Derr, Principal Mechanical Engineer, Orbital ATK. Topics included résumés, employer expectations, interviews and what makes interns successful.

Many companies will start to hire summer interns in the fall (September), while others may hire in the Spring (February). It is essential to be ready to apply early! Why should you do internships? Students who participate in internships are “special.” Employers can see that they have “gone above and beyond” to find an opportunity and apply what was learned in the classroom.

Recruiters receive an average of 300–500 résumés per week. Your résumé should be easy to read, error-free and relevant to the position you are seeking. A résumé with grammar and/or spelling errors, or one with tiny print and small margins are typically put into the reject pile. Try to put numbers into your bullets. If you can show that you made something “better, faster or cheaper,” that is a good thing — even better if it can be quantified!

Many internships are targeted for upperclassmen. However, there are things that younger students should be doing to make themselves competitive applicants. Getting involved in a student organization, especially one related to your major, is a way to start demonstrating both technical and interpersonal skills. Work on personal projects, on your own time, and include them on your résumé. Create an online “brag place” (get a website) and show your work. Create a LinkedIn profile.

Even if you do not yet have strong enough technical skills to qualify for an internship related to your major, you do still have skills. We heard about a student whose first internship was in Human Resources where she created spreadsheets. She did a good job and started networking. The following summer, she was hired as an engineering intern at the same company.

It is so important to research the company when preparing for an interview. Never show up late! Dress appropriately — professional and clean! (Iron shirts, shine shoes, etc.) An interview is more of a conversation than an exam. They are telling you about the company and you are telling them about you. Don’t give scripted answers. Be prepared to ask questions that will show your interest.

What makes a successful intern? Being accountable! Even better than showing up on time is starting early and not being the first one out the door at the end of the day. Own your mistakes and learn from them. Be willing to invest time to learn new things. Ask for help when needed. Be a team player. Show that you can handle (and even appreciate) constructive criticism.

After the panel, students had the opportunity to talk to professionals in small groups and one-on-one.


Joyce Donahue is a career counselor in the Fulton Schools Career Center.  She is a nationally certified career counselor and holds “Master Career Counselor” membership status in the National Career Development Association.