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Internships and Co-ops from the Employer's Perspective

This week's blog article was written by Dan Lamone, one of the Graduate Advisors in the ECS office.

In this week's blog I wanted to give you some insight into the goal of internship & co-op programs from the employer's perspective. Understanding how employers value and evaluate ECIP experience will hopefully enhance your job search strategy by changing the way you communicate with employers/recruiters.

Let me jump straight to the point. Companies do not hire intern or co-op students because they want to give students industry experience. The experience you gain and the skills that you develop benefit the employer if your productivity increases. Of course, you benefit from increased skills, but that is not the primary concern for the employer. Internship and co-op programs are long-term investments in intellectual capital to increase the value of a company. Companies invest their time and money into training you to work in their industry with the hope that your ECIP experience with them will pay dividends (and not just financial dividends) as a future employee. This is why many companies preferentially hire their own ECIP students.

Most of you probably already know this or at least have some intuition about an employer's perspective. But how many of you think like an employer during your job search? When you approach an employer (whether it be on paper, in person or in email) are you thinking about what you want or what they want? Have you ever asked yourself why a particular company should hire you? Why they should make you a member of their company's future? Try it before the next time you approach an employer; you'll be amazed at how well you can connect with the employer. The best answers to these questions come when you know what that employer is looking for. Most employers look to answer these 4 basic questions:

1. Does the candidate want a job that corresponds with our needs?
2. What are his/her skills--both technical and "soft"?
3. What motivates and interests this person?
4. Is the person a good fit with our team?

You can find company clues to these questions in job descriptions, company websites, info sessions, student evaluations and in the employers tab of your ECS job search account, just to name a few. Compare their literature with your skill set AND your interests.

The more you know about the company you are approaching, the better you will be able to translate your experience to match their needs. The more you discuss your experience in the context of their job posting, the better your chances of getting hired!

"What is it that you like doing? If you don't like it, get out of it, because you'll be lousy at it."
-Lee Iacocca

Authored by an ECS guest.