The Seven Key Attributes Successful Interns Share


Having worked with over 12,500 interns and 4,000 host companies we have taken some time to reflect on what attributes are shared amongst our most successful interns.

These qualities and skills mark the difference between interns who excel at their internship and use it as a platform to drive the career forward, and those that don't. Below we have outlined what these attributes are and how you can develop these in your internship.


1. Hungry to learn


Successful interns are those who have an appetite to learn and develop in their internship. They observe the working environment and spend time getting to know how departments other than their own function and operate. They take information and spend time reflecting how this helps the wider business. These interns ask questions at appropate times and show a willingness to develop.


2. Positive and friendly attitude


Successful interns are those who are positive at all times and demonstrate a ‘can-do’ attitude. They take time to get to know their co-workers and they approach each task with a smile. They become integrated with their host company throughout their internship by taking part in activities, functions and socialising opportunities with their company.


3. Have a flexible career path


Successful interns realise that this internship is the first step on their career ladder and not their final destination. They use the internship to explore their strengths and weaknesses and to gain some clarity about what direction they may want their career to follow but they are also flexible about change and open to new ideas.


4. Build valuable relationships


Successful interns understand the value of ‘it’s not what you know it’s who you know’. They use the internship to build relationships within their host company and they utilise programs such as LinkedIn to capitalise on these new partnerships and help expand their professional network. Some of our most successful interns have put themselves out of their comfort zone by identifying key people who they would like to meet in their host company and asking if they could have a short fifteen minute meeting/coffee to find out how they became successful in their role.


5. Get the basics right before tackling harder tasks


Successful interns understand the importance of conquering basic tasks first before moving onto more complex tasks. They show great attention to detail and enthusiasm for even the most basic entry level tasks to demonstrate to their host companies that they are competent and able to finish tasks effectively. Only once they have done this do they then ask for complex and more difficult tasks.


6. Understand the ‘bigger picture’ of an internship


Successful interns understand and explore the five key outcomes of an internship. They realise that these key outcomes will support their career both during and after their internship so they focus their efforts into achieving these outcomes: 


  • Exploring their personal career path
  • Developing a professional network within Australia
  • Gaining Australian workplace exposure and experience
  • Meeting and exceeding learning objectives
  • Developing communication skills – both verbal and non-verbal
  • Display professionalism at all times


Successful interns display a high level of professionalism at all times. From day one of their internship they arrive in smart business attire, they are polite and courteous at all times and even though they are an intern they display the behaviour and attitude of an employee. They show respect and commitment to the internship and they see each day as a valuable learning opportunity.

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