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Taking a Chance on an Intern with No Professional Experience

Written by Olivia Willis

“Looking for someone outside of the box and willing to learn!” How many times have you written this, or something similar, on an intern listing for your company? Probably quite a few. But do you mean it? You may be pushing away your most outside-of-the-box candidates, just because of their resumes. Unfortunately, there are still many employers that are hesitant or unwilling to hire an intern without industry experience. Many employers wonder how an intern with no relevant experience could be an asset to their firm, but the reality is that these students undoubtedly bring substantial benefits to any company or group; they just need to be given the chance to do so. From their excitement to learn, to their unconventional skill sets, let’s look at a few ways that hiring these types of applicants could be the best decision you make during the hiring process. 

Yes, they have the skill set. 

You might not think it, but the skills that your applicant possesses are in fact transferable and applicable to a position in the field of which he or she is applying. Think about it: it’s easy, albeit a little annoying perhaps, to teach someone trade lingo or how to use certain software. After a little time, though, these skills will become second nature. Even a seasoned professional takes a few weeks to acclimate to a new position. But is it that easy to teach someone discipline? Or self-reliance? Or work ethic? Not really. By taking a chance on someone without professional experience, you most likely won’t have to teach them any of these skills; they’ve already learned those along the way. 

Take, for instance, a student who has worked in the service industry throughout college. He or she was trying to pay off tuition to avoid taking on debt. Because of this, the student has no field experience but is now applying for internships so that he or she can begin a professional career. You may be thinking that this person might not be able to take on a large workload, but in reality they have immense experience in being self-reliant while managing a host of different responsibilities. Oh, and all while keeping a smile on their face. You may think they don’t have industry know-how or know the jargon, but learning on the fly has become second nature. They’re unphased by long days, disgruntled customers and clients, and dull busywork; all things they might encounter during an internship with you. Just digging a little bit deeper into the candidate’s experience will truly help you find the attributes you are looking for in an intern. 

They’ll bring unfettered passion, too. 

In addition to their skillsets, these applicants bring a hunger for knowledge. Did he or she want to work outside of the field they were studying for? Probably not, but during that time, they were dreaming about what would come next, about the hard work they were currently doing would payoff. This is that opportunity for them. Every day they will bring their passion and desire to learn to the office. They’ve finally gotten their opportunity to shine, and they probably will. A pair of fresh eyes doesn’t hurt, either. Most likely, they have a different view of the world, at least for the moment. You, as a mentor, can take advantage of this, and take notes from someone who might have a different perspective on issues or topics within your organization. Take it from Forbes: “You get big new ideas from people who are totally new to your field.” 

Companies and organizations want to maximize output and run as smoothly as possible, so, understandably, they want to hire an intern who they think will help them do that. While this line of thinking is rational, amazing opportunities can come from the disruption of rational and traditional thinking. Even though hiring an intern with little to no experience in your field may seem like a risk, they undoubtedly will bring something to your organization that it desperately needs, whether that be an emphatic passion for projects, a wholehearted willingness to learn, or a fresh, new perspective within your department. So, are you still looking for someone outside of the box? If you mean it, then look no further. These are the students who fit the bill. 

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