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3 things employers want in an intern

By Ruth
October 11 2017

Posted in Student Resources

It’s a week after Offers Day for SoT2017, and we have 166 successful tech intern candidates (so far…)

Unfortunately, that means we have 1,200+ candidates who were unsuccessful in landing an internship role this time round. Although we do still have a few roles open, the sad truth is that there is an over-supply of awesome people seeking entry-level roles, and as we are a marketplace rather than a placement programme, there will always be sadness at this time of year.

For the candidates who didn’t make it, please keep applying for roles that you think you’re a good match for. This includes roles in our programme, and roles out there in the rest of the universe!  The usual job boards (Trade Me Jobs etc), your school career office and organisations’ own recruitment websites are all places to go to find opportunity.

Don’t despair. If you’re studying (or recently graduated) please register for our 2018 programmes.

Here’s 3 highly desirable & hirable traits, as reported in conversations with employers in SoT2017:


They’re looking for a motivated person, who is interested in them, and in the work they’ll be doing. Communication skills are essential. Your ability to work with others (tech is a team sport!). Empathy, self-awareness. Confidence. And humility.

Ok, so that’s not a recipe for “Good Attitude” but perhaps it’s better to talk about things that represent a bad attitude when it comes to recruiting interns:

X don’t really care about a job, or this job in particular
X can’t really tell what you do care about
X hard to talk to
X lack of empathy, or other red flags about your ability to work collaboratively with other people
X late, or distracted, or unfocused on the conversation you’re having with them


They’re expecting to mentor, train and support you during your internship or grad role.  They will probably assume that you’ll need to unlearn or re-learn key skills from your education career, and that they’ll be investing in you throughout the intern role.  They want to know that you can learn. Fast. Are you a self-learner? Resourceful? Good problem-solving skills? When you’re stuck, do you ask (g0od) questions?

You’re about to enter the tech industry, where you’ll spend your entire career learning new stuff. Be open to that, and excited about it!


THIS is the biggie for most students their first time through Summer of Tech. Can you PROVE you know something that’s useful to the employer?  Is your CV & portfolio showing what they want to see?  No, we don’t expect you to have actual work experience, but can you re-frame your school projects into language and examples that are relevant to the employer?

This crosses all disciplines, and is essential.  We’ve written other posts about how to make your CV read less like “I’M A STUDENT” and more like “I’M A POTENTIAL EMPLOYEE”. We’ve got a lot of resources, tips & tricks, bootcamps & clinics for students during the year to make sure their employment profile helps tell the story of their potential.

Make sure you can talk (or demo) your skills during job interviews, too. Make sure you remember what you wrote in your CV, and you’ve prepared relevant examples to talk about. Remember transferable skills and experience.  If you made it to a job interview but didn’t get any further, that’s an area you can focus on next time round.

If you missed out this year, make sure you register & update your profile early in 2018.  Try and prioritise our CV & Profile Bootcamps or reach out to us if you can’t make it to an event. Come along to a CV Clinic or Mock interviews for real life practice. If you’re not based in Auckland, Hamilton, Wellington, Christchurch or Dunedin, then we can still connect via the interweb.

Give yourself a high 5: you are awesome, reflect on your experience this year, re-calibrate, and keep applying for roles!


Other Related Posts: How to increase your chances of getting hired, Nailing Job Interviews, Top Interview Tips & more in Student Resources.

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