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On Friday, December 2, 2011, MACIC hosted its Fall 2011 Professional Development Program. Internship Best Practices: Employer Panel Discussion brought together employers and college internship professionals to learn about the internship programs of area employers. Speakers on the panel included:

  • Dori Tooke, Director of Inpatient Rehab Services, Aurora Health Care
  • Wade Krogwold, Campus & Community Recruiting Manager, Direct Supply
  • Ellen Burgermeister, IS Recruiter/Campus Recruiting Consultant, Northwestern Mutual
  • Heather Seager, Director of Clinical Development, Wheaton Franciscan Healthcare
  • Ana Maria Guzman, Client Services Specialist, Wisconsin Public Defender’s Office

Attendees learned about the organizations’ internship opportunities and best practices for their respective programs. Panelists shared their organizations’ perspectives on tailoring supervision to a specific student intern, important work skills needed for an internship, and the role of a student’s major in intern recruitment. After a Q&A with the audience, each panelist wrapped up the discussion by sharing three or four attributes they seek in an intern.
Highlights from the Panel Discussion

  • “Soft skills” were crucial for intern success. While technical skills might get a student an interview, it is the soft skills – critical thinking, communication, teamwork – that will get the student hired. And more importantly, students need to be able to articulate how they possess these skills. Some of the key attributes employers are looking for include:
    • Flexibility
    • Initiative
    • Critical Thinking
    • Customer Service
    • Communication
    • Teamwork/Collaboration
    • Passion
  • Major is not the most important factor for most employers when hiring an intern. While some positions may require specialized training (ex. IT or engineering), most roles do not. Again, it comes down to soft skills. Hire interns with strong communication, critical thinking, and collaboration skills, and train them to do the job at hand.
  • Interns will make mistakes. As an employer, create an environment in which students are comfortable with asking questions or seeking help before an issue becomes a major problem.
  • Schools and employers are partners in the internship process:
    • Schools need to be clear about the intent of an internship from their perspective. Make sure everyone shares the same expectations.
    • Schools need to understand what tactics work best with their students. What works at your institution in terms of marketing opportunities with students?
    • Employers want to collaborate. Instituting advisory boards and including employers on those boards is a great way to partner for the gainful employment of students.

Additional details about the event, including contact information for each panelist, is available in the Professional Development Program Archive.