The Passive Intern Vs The Active Intern

We really need to get over the myth that your the big company names on your CV or nice university grade lands you a proper position upon graduation. Employers are demanding tangible experience from job seekers now more than ever. The problem is that simply taking part in an internship does not cut it.

Your internships during your final year of school should seamlessly land you your first job offer, or at least grant you some sort of career mileage. If this is not the case, you are definitely doing something wrong. This may sound harsh, but here is how you can ensure that your internship is successful.


Let’s dig deeper into the specific attributes of an effective intern.

The Active Intern

  1. Took part in actual projects that can be described as high-level  both in terms of quality and quantity.
  2. Was part of a team, and collaborated effectively to achieve a set goal.
  3. Came up with some new ideas or improvements which were acted upon. (Either shared or executed).
  4. Accomplished assigned tasks and went way over the expected threshold.
  5. Prepared a report outlining their assigned and accomplished tasks. (Shows great professionalism)
  6. Communicated effectively and got along with their colleagues.
  7. The impact of their leaving will be strongly felt across the organisation. Someone will have to take over their tasks (handing-over)
  8. Got a letter of recommendation from the employer outlining these projects and achievements.
  9. Will most likely be asked to join the organization as soon as they are through with their studies. (They will have created a new position for the intern to fill as an employee)


The Passive Intern

  1. Somehow took part in projects but their input cannot be quantified qualitatively or quantitatively.
  2. Did not exhibit leadership qualities in teams and their impact was generally not felt.
  3. Was more of a follower (does what they are told to do) and did not attempt to come up with any new solutions or ideas.
  4. Delivered just on what they were asked to do (bare minimum)
  5. Did not provide any professional documentation when delivering on tasks (No report writing skills were learnt)
  6. Impact of their leaving will not be felt in the organisation. (It will be business as usual)
  7. Had poor communication skills and often failed to communicate effectively
  8. Probably will not inquire a letter of recommendation because they will be looking forward to the end of the internship.
  9. Will probably not be offered a job if they come asking upon graduation. (The team will not remember them either)

The truth is, value means helping people (in this case your boss. We are only creating value within an organisation if we are doing one of two things. We are either;

  • Giving our employer what they really want (a great benefit!)


  • We are helping them get rid of a pain (an inconvenience which is costing time or money!).

Always focus on what you can give (value) and take away (skills) from the company in this sense and then you can easily justify why you should get a permanent position.

So, from the above observations…Do you think you were a passive or active intern?

What trait do you think you should improve on during your next internship?

If you’re an employer, feel free to leave comments on additional traits and skills which you look for in active interns.

We would love to hear from you!


Seasoned Workforce.


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