Summer Intern Advice from the Boss: More Passion, Less Entitlement – According to Korn Ferry Survey

EDITOR’S NOTE: Survey results at bottom of release

LOS ANGELES, June 13, 2018 — As the summer internship season kicks into high gear, a new survey by Korn Ferry (NYSE:KSFY) points to the reasons bosses would choose one intern candidate over another.

Nearly two thirds of professionals surveyed (65 percent) said passion is the top attribute they look for when hiring an intern. Significantly trailing were an intern’s performance (21 percent), school they attended (7 percent), grades (4 percent) and pedigree (3 percent).

When asked what is the biggest intern performance dealbreaker, the largest percentage (37 percent) said entitlement. In addition more than two-thirds (67 percent) said learning should be the most important area of focus for interns.

“Coming from a highly regarded school or having a strong pedigree will only get intern candidates so far,” said Ally Van Deuren, Korn Ferry University Relations Center of Excellence Lead for North America. “What really matters is attitude and their willingness to work, learn and grow.”

Virtually all of the respondents (98 percent) said internships are important to landing a job, and 99 percent said they are likely to hire interns on for full-time positions if the intern performs well. Nearly two-thirds (62 percent) said they personally had an internship that led to a full-time job.

“Internships are a key step in becoming a qualified professional,” said Van Deuren. “Success however is a two-way street – interns need to ask questions and stretch their capabilities, and employers must offer meaningful and important work to help the intern advance.”

The survey also found that professional networking still rules -- the top way bosses find high-performing interns is through a connection.

“Today’s interns could be tomorrow’s organizational leaders. It is incumbent upon managers to take the intern hiring process seriously to help their organizations succeed long term,” said Van Deuren.

About the survey

Nearly 200 (183) professionals across a wide range of industries took the survey in late May 2018. Due to rounding, figures may not equal 100.

What is the top attribute you look for when considering hiring an intern?

Pedigree - 3 percent
Grades - 4 percent
School they attended - 7 percent
Passion - 65 percent
Performance - 21 percent

What are the biggest intern performance dealbreakers?

Showing up late/leaving early - 13 percent
Not understanding the company - 19 percent
Bad cultural fit - 31 percent
Entitlement - 37 percent

What’s the most important thing interns need to focus on?

Being indespensible - 9 percent
Building their network on the job - 5 percent
Demonstrating passion - 19 percent
Learning - 67 percent

If an intern performs well on the job, how likely is it that your organization will hire them?

Highly likely - 79 percent
Somewhat likely - 20 percent
Unlikely - 1 percent

How important are internships to securing a job?

Very important - 48 percent
Somewhat important - 50 percent
Not important - 2 percent

Would you hire a college grad if he or she hadn’t had a previous internship?

Yes - 80 percent
No - 20 percent

How have you found your highest-performing interns?

Campus job fairs - 25 percent
By them submitting their resumes online - 20 percent
Through a connection - 35 percent
By them proactively contacting you - 20 percent

Did you have an internship that led to a full-time job?

Yes - 62 percent
No - 38 percent

About Korn Ferry

Korn Ferry is a global organizational consulting firm. We help companies design their organization – the structure, the roles and responsibilities, as well as how they compensate, develop and motivate their people. As importantly, we help organizations select and hire the talent they need to execute their strategy. Our approximately 7,000 colleagues serve clients in more than 50 countries.