Rant On Interns: Advice From A Career Coach

June 16, 2010

Last week, I ranted about interns — Do you hire them based on education or experience? After some great responses, I’ve asked a few people to weigh in with their experience and expertise. This was followed with some insight by Erik Anderson who has had a lot of experience hiring interns.

Now, I’ve asked Christian Hasse who has been my career Yoda for years to weigh in. When we met, he was a top head hunter in the communications industry and now leads a career coaching company.

Here’s what he had to say.

As someone who has lived all sides of the equation: I interned at The Hockey News and then an all-sports radio station in Montreal long ago; I have hired interns in several of my roles within the communications industry and now, as a career coach & counsellor and the Principal at Competitive Edge Consulting

I constantly tell young, eager newbies entering the job market that gaining experience through an internship is the best way to get their foot in the door in their chosen field.
While the carrot at the end of the stick may be a permanent job, by going all out – proving to be a passionate, diligent, eager and enthusiastic worker – by performing at the highest standard your name may also pop up on the radar screen of some of your chosen industry’s decision makers via a simple chat at a function or an email correspondence, completely unbeknownst to you.

From my experience of late, it seems that the younger generation (Generation Y) have a sense of entitlement; that they should be given the keys to the BMW before they even learn to drive.

When I speak with graduating classes at various colleges and universities, I ask, via a show of hands, what the soon-to-be rookies expect to be making as they enter the PR/Communications domain. I start at 30K per year wherein only a few nervous hands get raised. At 40K a few more. It’s only at 50K per annum that the vast majority rise in unison. Are you kidding me?! With no experience and not much else to offer to their brethren, 50K is a pipedream in PR/Comms unless you had a PhD….”Papa has Dough!”

But I digress.

How does one gain experience and what do I look for? Without a doubt it’s passion! You can’t fake passion. You can have an awesome resume, an MBA or a college diploma, but at day’s end, I want to see someone who has the eye of the tiger, the willingness to do anything to help out, take on and learn as much as they can. These are the people who will not only get the internships but more than likely move up the corporate ladder faster than most.

Do I care where a person got their education: college vs. university? Frankly, no!

It’s in that initial interview where you can make an indelible first impression that will resonate with me long after we have parted ways. It’s the person who has researched the company; knows not only what they do but how, why, when, where, who they represent, what their latest news cycle contains etc. The one who shows a willingness to soak up the opportunity and all it has to offer.

When you head into the process of applying for internships, take it seriously. If you don’t, you can be sure that others will and therefore have a big leg up on their competition.

You only get one chance to make a good first impression. There are no re-dos, do-overs or second takes. You need to think of the interview process as an audition and making an Oscar worthy performance. There will be countless others applying for the role and anything you say, do and your mannerisms within that initial meeting can, and will, be held against you.

I have counselled countless newbies and prepped many other more senior clients to succeed in all kinds of interview situations. The credo is the same re. the internship roles: the thirst for success and the passion for the position – the grunt, the low-person on the totem pole, the whipping boy – all come from within. Passion is an intangible that cannot be taught at any educational establishment.

So, before you think that a two or three month unpaid stay within or organisation, agency, or corporation is beneath you – think again! It may be the key that opens the door to a long and successful career regardless of where you went to school.

– Christian Hasse, Principal at Competitive Edge Consulting

What would you add? Do you agree? Are you an intern looking for an internship? Let us know and leave a comment!


3 Responses to “Rant On Interns: Advice From A Career Coach”

  1. […] Rant On Interns: Advice From A Career Coach […]

  2. […] Rant On Interns: Advice From A Career Coach […]

  3. That was definitely my first step right after graduation – an unpaid internship.

    Moving to the big city and taking that on drained all of my savings and put me into a sizable amount of debt, but considering I still keep in contact with the people I met there and get invites to their functions I’d say it has and may continue to pay off in the long run.

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