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Being a standout Intern candidate

This week I attended a lecture at my son’s school, given by the CEO of I.H.S. Markit Limited, Lance Uggla. Being held at a school he shared his tips for being a standout intern candidate.

I.H.S. is a data analysis company and is currently worth $19Billion. Lance’s company was founded in St Albans and is now a global company. Every year 200 undergraduate interns spend 10 weeks working at the company. The majority of them want to impress! There are approximately 2000 applications. These are narrowed down by the university, predicted degree (they want candidates with the potential to be a First Class Honours or 2:1). Whilst they do like computer science and Maths students, if there is a good candidate in another discipline – even an arts based subject like History, they will consider you.

But the choices for internships aren’t the only selection; at the end of the internship the company considers WHO they want to take on. Normally they offer jobs to 50 interns, and there are three additional criteria they consider (given they have already screened candidates above). Lance was very clear about what his team look for, and I believe they are fantastic tips for ensuring you make the right impressions.

  1. Have good manners. Say please and thank you. Don’t be demanding. Whilst the company understands the candidates are ambitious, they are very lucky to have the opportunity. Developing a reputation for being ‘entitled’, arrogant or rude will not result in a job. But always saying hello to the support staff, colleagues and bosses is noticed.
  2. Work hard. The internship is not a holiday or opportunity to socialise.
  3. Be an interested and interesting person. Take an interest in general discussions. If everyone is going to see a Darts Match (yep), go with them. If there is a sweep stake for the Grand National, join in. But also have some interesting things to say. ensure people know what your hobbies are. Get involved in discussions!

There are some really useful points here to share with young people. My only concern is that there are some young people who aren’t exposed to good manners: only learning communication styles from the likes of EastEnders and Reality TV – where shouting at each other is the norm. Being a role model to those young people is REALLY important, because if this is a criteria for selection within highly sought after jobs, we need to ensure there is a level playing field for candidates.

I do find it interesting – and relieved – that communication and professional branding skills are highly valued within a selection process. This isn’t about boasting Apprentice style, but actually getting on with people. Is this what you do?

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