Communication occurs in a variety of ways, but future employers are primarily interested in one's ability to write and speak professionally. The ability to communicate effectively — to translate ideas and convey information — is key in any field, whether it’s with one's supervisor, coworkers, or clients, and employers are well aware that it is a valuable skill.
The ability to communicate effectively is often related to one’s ability to relate well to others, or “people skills.” Depending on the industry, someone may be required to interact with clients and vendors as well as your co-workers and managers. It’s important to be able to build and maintain relationships and be the kind of person team members want in the office with them every day. Interpersonal skills are also important because employers seek individuals who can identify the wants and needs of others and who can recognize and acknowledge the value of differing perspectives.
The ability to communicate and relate well to others is certainly important for collaboration, as is the capacity to work with others toward a common goal. As part of a team, a great employee must understand his/her own strengths and weaknesses so they know how they can best contribute, as well as be aware of how they can bring out the best in others.
Students who have managed to successfully take a full course load every semester and meet assignment deadlines, to some extent, have already demonstrated time management skills. However, in the workforce, there is no syllabus to tell an employee when their deadlines are. It’s up to them to organize their time and produce results. Employers want to know that their employees can prioritize responsibilities and recognize when it’s appropriate to multitask or focus on one particular project at a time.
Today’s work culture — whether you’re working for a startup or well-established organization — often requires even the most senior-level executives to wear multiple hats. As an intern, one may find themself supporting the sales team and the next day performing customer service. While one may have an interest in a particular aspect of an industry, a willingness to become familiar with the different parts of an organization is definitely viewed as an asset (and also increases one's exposure within the company).
Critical thinking refers to one's ability to analyze and evaluate a situation or issue and form a judgment. The tendency to think critically can be demonstrated by a willingness to ask questions in order to understand an issue from all possible angles, and to pose creative solutions to challenges.
Research and Analysis
If you’ve completed any research papers or projects for your coursework (and you likely have), you already have experience with research and analysis. As a new member of the organization, one will be hit with a lot of new information. One's ability to process that information is a testament to their ability to fulfill whatever role they are assigned. To effectively process information and complete the assigned task, one may be required to research and provide analysis.
Internships and entry-level positions offers one knowledge of an industry and professional experience, but that doesn’t mean one does not have anything to offer. Potential employers will appreciate the chance to bring someone on board who doesn’t have to wait to receive direction for every task, and who’s willing to assist others with their work. One should take the initiative to complete task and go beyond the scope of one's job when appropriate.
While taking initiative is important, so is the ability to receive feedback. The ability to receive feedback or constructive criticism is key to one's success.
Interns and entry-level employees certainly won’t be expected to be an expert in whatever platform the company you’re applying to uses. However, it is important for one to know his/her way around a computer. One's ability to navigate basic productivity software such as Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint will likely be presumed.