What Employers Want and Students Won’t Give

Jane Doe (her name has been changed to save her further embarrassment), 20, spent her summer interning with AGV Sports Group (a motorcycle apparel company located in Frederick, MD).  Unlike the 47% of college and high school students who were not actively seeking employment, Doe decided to gain experience in Supply Chain Management.  Three weeks later she was frustrated, confused, and fired.

Like many college students, Doe was involved on campus; she received good grades in school, and has tons of self-confidence.  How could she fail?  Every time she would get a bad grade in class she would work with the professor to change it, why couldn’t her employer be more understanding?  She was only 5 to 15 minutes late each day; when she worked part-time at the mall they gave her a grace period.  How was she supposed to know how to do everything her boss asked her to do?  He didn’t walk her through it.

Doe, like many of her counterparts, grew up in an era where there are no losers, we get A’s for effort, and grading in red is too harmful for students’ self-esteem.  The idea that making life easier for our children is great up until they enter the working world and realize that employers will not teach them every aspect of their jobs.

Tim Sackett’s “1 Reason Interns Suck” is harsh, especially to those college students who don’t rely on their employer to babysit them throughout their internship, but he makes a good point that employers need people who will really work and an internship is the perfect opportunity for students to prove that they are these types of people.

Employers don't want interns to wait around to be told what to do.

Employers don’t want interns to wait around to be told what to do.

According to Penny Loretto (the Associate Director in the Career Services office at a small liberal arts college) 95% of students who completed an internship or co-op were either hired by the company they interned for or received other job offers.  Students who have never had an internship are completely unprepared for a job where their employers expect them to take responsibility over their position and not wait to be told what to do.

Employability skills –showing up on time, working in a team and independently, basic computer skills, problem solving, and writing and communication skills are important in both jobs and internships.  Employers are shocked by the invasion of 20-somethings that write in chat speak, cannot address an envelope, and speak and dress as if they are going to a club rather than work.

“It is very important that my interns have a good understanding of Microsoft Office,” says Michael Parrotte (Owner and President of AGV Sports Group), “I am willing to guide them and teach them, but I run a business I don’t have time to babysit.”

Students like Jane Doe are common in the group of recent and upcoming graduates.  The belief that their degree entitles them to a job is being shot down as employers refuse to hire and fire employees who lack basic employability skills and have no experience in their field.