NACE Logo NACE Center Logo
National Association of Colleges and Employers NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition
mobile menu
  • Competencies Employers Seek in Internship/Co-Op Hires

    July 19, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    Internships
    A manager interviews a potential intern.

    TAGS: internships, competencies, trends and predictions, surveys, spotlight, co_ops

    Spotlight for Career Services Professionals

    When it comes to selecting students for their internship and co-op programs, employers have a set of five competencies that are “must haves,” according to NACE’s 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey.

    In the three years since this survey first asked about the competencies that are most important to employers when selecting students for their internship and co-op programs, five competencies have stood out as crucial for intern and co-op hires to possess. (See Figure 1 and Figure 2.) These include:

    • Information processing;
    • Teamwork;
    • Planning/prioritizing;
    • Decision making/problem solving; and
    • Verbal communication.

    In fact, at least 95 percent of employers responding to this question see information processing and teamwork as critical components of an internship or co-op recruit’s appeal.

    NACE’s 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey was conducted from November 21, 2016, to February 17, 2017, from NACE employer members; there were 276 respondents, representing 26.4 percent of all eligible respondents. The 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey report is available to participants through MyNACE. An executive summary of the 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey is available on NACEWeb.

    Figure 1: Preferred competencies for intern hires

    Competency 2015 2016 2017
    % of respondents
    Information processing 95.6% 94.4% 98.7%
    Teamwork 96.9% 94.9% 94.9%
    Planning/prioritizing 92.6% 93.5% 89.7%
    Decision making/problem solving 90.4% 84.6% 89.7%
    Verbal communication 90.6% 90.7% 88.5%
    Data analysis 75.4% 71.0% 76.9%
    Computer skills 66.2% 63.2% 61.5%
    Job-specific technical skills/knowledge 58.3% 58.4% 51.3%
    Written communication 45.0% 37.1% 30.8%
    Selling/influencing 24.9% 17.8% 28.2%
    Source: 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers
    In this analysis, a criterion was defined as “important” if a respondent who used that criterion considered it either “very important” (4) or “extremely important” (5) on a 5-point scale.


    Figure 2: Preferred competencies for co-op hires

    Competency 2015 2016 2017
    % of respondents
    Information processing 94.3% 95.9% 100.0%
    Teamwork 96.7% 95.9% 94.9%
    Planning/prioritizing 93.4% 89.7% 91.0%
    Decision making/problem solving 87.6% 85.4% 89.7%
    Verbal communication 89.3% 90.7% 85.9%
    Data analysis 80.3% 78.6% 82.1%
    Computer skills 72.7% 69.8% 64.1%
    Job-specific technical skills/knowledge 69.2% 66.7% 57.7%
    Written communication 51.7% 39.2% 32.1%
    Selling/influencing 31.7% 10.3% 23.1%
    Source: 2017 Internship & Co-op Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers
    In this analysis, a criterion was defined as “important” if a respondent who used that criterion considered it either “very important” (4) or “extremely important” (5) on a 5-point scale.