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As far as being productive over the summer goes, doing an internship is a life saver. Trust me, it’s way better than binge watching Game of Thrones or a Big Bang Theory marathon with potato chips for company. Having spent two or more years in the confines of your college, you must have probably narrowed down what you want to do with your life and would definitely want to explore and use your time in sharpening your skills to that end. An internship, in most cases, is like a job without commitment. It is a wonderful way to get to know how a company works or how new things are discovered, even more so in today’s start-up bubble.

But did you know that there’s a special skill set that nearly every employer looks for in an intern? Employers seem to demand the moon these days, but they’re really looking for candidates who may be easier to work with (assuming they already have the core skills to do the job). That means “soft,” or intangible qualities, such as leadership skills, a sense of humour or being able to “play well with others,” can be a strong, competitive advantage for the job seeker. When a search comes down to two analysts with similar backgrounds and core competencies, the one who also may be a better “team player” or who can “wear many hats” is more likely to get the nod.

So, if you want to stand out to employers during your internship search, it’s essential to market your soft skills. Here are 6 soft skills every student needs to get through placement interviews or internships:

Positive Attitude

More and more employers are looking for candidates whose skills go beyond the job description. Specifically, they’re looking for candidates with positive attitudes. Being cheerful doesn’t mean smiling all the time (although being a happy intern is always a plus!); it’s a mentality that can affect all aspects of your job, from improving your work ethic to being open to new opportunities and responsibilities.

A positive attitude is a “soft skill” because it represents a character trait and an interpersonal skill. It’s always easier for employers to train bright, motivated, ambitious employees on technical skills. You can teach a new hire how to use the computer system, but can’t really teach them how to have a good attitude.

Take a look at our article “How to develop positive thinking as a habit.”

Ability to work in a team

Employers like people who play well with others. Even if the job you seek isn’t officially a part of a team, an employer may want examples of how you collaborated with people who don’t report to you. Team work is an essential soft skill because you might have to communicate with other interns and co-workers. It’s crucial to be able to express your ideas in a group setting and not be afraid to share your opinions and ask questions.

Willingness To Put in Extra Hours

Like any other job, your internship might require you to work beyond the 40 hours per week. Whether it’s staying an hour later at work or arriving to the office early in the morning, you’ll be expected to put in extra time during your internship. Especially in an environment rife with layoffs, managers are especially comforted knowing a candidate can take on even unanticipated tasks at odd hours.

Leadership/Team Building

Leadership skills are not only critical for managerial positions, but also for candidates who may want rise to positions where they’ll give directions to others. Interns who display strong leadership acumen are viewed as a strong assets to the organization. Leadership experience means you’ve demonstrated the ability to learn, improve, and lead others. It will also open more doors during your internship and give you opportunities to take on new projects.

Check out some tips on how to become a good leader here.


While employers don’t necessarily want mavericks or masterminds, they do appreciate people who don’t need to be told what to do and can set their own tasks and follow through. The strongest interns are those who are self-motivated and can meet deadlines without being reminded daily. Show your manager you’re able to juggle multiple projects and meet their deadlines.

Excellent Communicator

Lastly, no matter what your core job duties are, the ability to write articulate notes or emails, give clear verbal instructions and help meetings run smoothly — or, at least, not sabotage meetings — will probably be needed. A good conversation is bound to work in your favour.

Keep these skills in mind when you’re applying for your next internship, and we have no doubt you’ll land it!

To conclude, soft skills tend to be the most important factor in almost any interview. Even if you’re worried your resume isn’t up to par, the right presentation and the signs of a dedicated learner can sway hiring managers to your side in a flash.

Remember, many soft skills can be built or improved on the job. Consider volunteering for more responsibility, or jump at the chance to be on a team, so that you’ll have anecdotes to tell on your next placement interview.

What are some of your strongest soft skills?

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Everything you wanted to know about internships

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