What is the right mind set for an internship?

By David Shindler, author of Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable.

“Mind set will often trump skills,” says John Reed, Chairman of the recruitment firm, Reed.

Exhibiting the right mind set, indeed, can turn a pedestrian CV — and interview — into a genuine opportunity for employment. But what is the right mind set? What are employers looking for — from you?

Positive attitude

Enthusiasm and a ‘can do’ attitude come from your personality, choosing your attitude and enjoying your job. Take initiative, empathise and see how to make things better.


Employers want active people willing to take responsibility; self-starters who are assertive, flexible, resilient, balanced, reliable, able to juggle tasks, committed to their own development and presentable.


Knowing what good teamwork looks like–and how you can best contribute based on your strengths; co-operating, leading and following in order to deliver a professional service or product and enhance the customer experience.


Listening, questioning well to build rapport, empathy and productive relationships to achieve what the business requires.  Putting across your views coherently, fluently and confidently.  Producing clear, structured written work.

Using technology

Information/social communication tools, including word processing, spreadsheets, collaboration, mobiles, search engines and the Internet.  Embrace the digital revolution or become obsolete.

Solving problems

Analysing facts and situations; creative thinking and working collaboratively to develop solutions.   Creativity is applying your imagination – we all have one.

Knowing numbers

Quick mental calculations, estimating, how to work out a percentage instantly.  Applying basic numerical concepts to everyday life takes you a long way–understanding statistical significance is significant.

Business and customer awareness

A fundamental part of being employable is how well you manage your relationships with customers or users; align your mind set with the behaviour you want to present to a customer; look wider than your role.

Of course, not all of us are good at every skill set above. The secret is to “sell” what you’re good at before and during your internship — and articulate a willingness to learn those not yet mastered. Most important, you must convincingly show how your skill set will solve the problem of the employer — now and long-term.

Want more practical advice?

Next time an interviewer or your boss as an intern says, “Tell me about you..?” — instead of telling them where you live, went to school, or about your mates — start with this list of skill and mind sets, and show them you are employable!

David Shindler is the author of Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable.  An experienced coach, consultant and facilitator, David helps people at any life stage accelerate their employability.  He also owns the Employability Hub, an online social learning community where people share and learn about employability issues, runs the Learning to Leap LinkedIn group and Facebook page. Contact him for more details – tweet him or visit his website at www.employabilitycoaching.co.uk.