by Laurel Mylonas-Orwig
Welcome back! You may have noticed (since I’m sure you check for updates every day) that the CAPS blog hasn’t been updated in a while. In the hustle and bustle of the holiday season—and for CAPS, the beginning of the summer Jeff Metcalf season—I admit that I let the blog fall by the wayside. But good news! We’re back, and hopefully, my dear reader, better than ever.
This week, we’re delving in to the top reasons that a prospective employer wants to hire you. Now that the internship recruitment season is in full gear, the hallways of Ida Noyes are full of students eager to learn about and apply to a variety of opportunities. But while most students can easily list the merits of the companies they are interested in, have you ever considered what merits an employer looks for in an employee? Now more than ever, it’s crucial that applicants are aware of the assets they bring to the table, and how to convey them. Let’s take a look at some of the top characteristics employers look for:
- Long-term potential
Even if you’re only working there for ten weeks, employers want to feel that they’re not training you for nothing. This is especially true for financial services companies, which will frequently make full-time job offers to interns who do a good job. While you may or may not return to that employer in the future, it is in your best interest to make them want you back. Demonstrate your interest by asking about career movement in the company, or giving an example of an activity or organization that you have stuck with for a long time.
- Ability to collaborate and cooperate
When you’re working a full-time job, even if it’s just for ten weeks, you will spend a lot of time with your coworkers. Therefore, it’s important to employers that you exhibit a personable demeanor, since no one wants to spend eight or more hours a day with someone they can’t stand. During your interview, try to give examples of groups or teams you participate in—make that IM Broomball squad a point in your favor!
- Relevant work experience
Here’s a well-kept secret: if an employer wants to see “relevant work experience,” that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to have worked in that industry before. What employers are looking for is someone who has some useful skills and won’t require a lot of training or hand-holding. Instead of thinking strictly about what “relevant” means, consider what you’ve learned from other work/volunteer experiences. Did a table waiting gig teach you to handle stress well? That’s an important attribute in financial services. Also remember that course work you’ve done can stand in the stead of work experience. The bottom line is to make the most of your knowledge and skills, even if they don’t seem to fit perfectly with the job description.
- Effective multitasking and time management skills
Most businesses today move quickly and expect their employees to keep up. Therefore, multitasking is a must in the workplace, as is effective time management. As a University of Chicago student or alum, you are well-equipped to handle these kinds of situations. After all, once you’ve lived through a killer finals week, everything else seems easy in comparison! When you’re interviewing for a potentially stressful position, don’t be afraid to talk up your academic experience. If an employer perceives you as ambitious and inquisitive, you will likely move up the list.
- Good cultural fit
Most companies and organizations have a unique “corporate culture”. Before you interview with a prospective employer, try to get a sense of this culture, and whether you’d fit in well. If you hate wearing a suit and like to have a flexible schedule, investment banking probably isn’t for you. But if you’re an extrovert with graphic design sensibilities, you might want to consider an internship in advertising. Overall, if you can find an industry and a company that you’re a good cultural fit for, you’re more likely to enjoy your experience.
Remember, you can always come in to CAPS to learn more about the internship and full-time job search resources available to you. Other questions, quandaries, complaints or tips of your own? Post a comment!