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4 Qualities of a Rad Candidate and 4 Traits of a Gnarly Company

Rad Intern:

You’re looking for a stellar intern to help your startup with marketing, development, PR, design, operations, or a million other things in which you need help.  Here are the traits Lantern looked for in its intern search:

1. Well-spoken and articulate

Lantern used a pretty unconventional application process. First, applicants were to call a number and answer a series of questions through voicemail. Some prompts for the marketing internship were:

  • What is your favorite marketing campaign?
  • Tell a funny story that happened to you recently.

This tactic was used to get a reading on how articulate the applicant could present him/herself.  To have someone represent your company in writing, design, customer service, or any other way, that person needs to be able to represent themselves well. More than well… in a favorable way that says, “you should hire me because I’m the most incredibly, amazingly intelligent, experienced, articulate marketer/designer/engineer for the job.” This can then translate to the intern presenting your company as “the best (insert job function here) for the job.”  With my Pantene Shine Strong campaign answer and explanation and giant spiders invading my apartment story, I moved on to the next step of the interview process.


2. Basic knowledge and interest of the company and market/Ability to work under pressure

This second step consisted of a surprise phone call asking the applicant about the CRM industry and knowledge of the company. Not going to lie, this took me incredibly off guard.  I had researched the company and knew the basics of CRM and the industry (like Salesforce being the main player), but having absolutely no warning of an interview phone call, it was stressful.

Having the ability to keep calm and answer these CRM-related questions articulately, it proves the applicant actually did some research and did not just apply to every open position there was. It also highlights her/his ability to perform under stressful circumstances.  Both are imperative qualities for a tech startup intern to possess. Are they able to work with lots of projects, deadlines, and other stress-causing events going on, and do they know about you and how your company is trying to become a game changer?


3. Resourceful and independent

Next up in the interview process was a Google Hangout with the Director of Marketing, Chad. This was a chance to see what fresh ideas the applicant could bring to the table. Being so focused on one’s industry and company, it is easy to get tunnel-vision.  Getting someone with a new perspective can bring innovative ideas, processes, and insights.  How resourceful can this potential intern be?

They say independence is part of being an ‘adult human person.’  And I would have to agree with the ominous ‘they.’  Being in such a small company, there is no time to babysit new employees, including interns. Having an intern that has the confidence and knowledge to know what projects to work on and how to manage tasks saves the company time and provides peace of mind.

To gauge these all important qualities, some topics discussed in the Google Hangout included:

  • The marketing projects that would be the main focus for Lantern this summer and how I could contribute my skills.
  • The work I have done for past internships and how it assisted with the overall goal of the organization.

Chad also requested a sample of my work. Being the resourceful and prepared lady I am, I have a portfolio ready to go, including my writing samples, design work, and marketing collateral.

#ProTip (for interns): Have this guy ready to go as you start your search process! You do not want to be scrambling to find those files from junior year of your code samples or graphics work.


4. Strong desire to learn

As stated in my last post, the main point of an internship is to LEARN. To learn about everything and anything you can about the company, industry, skills, people, tools, etc. If an intern does not have the desire to immerse her/himself into yet another world of education, then this person is not the intern for you.

Be able to gauge applicants’ passion about learning in interviews with questions pertaining to what they want to learn from this internship and what they are looking to get out of it. If they come up short on their answers, then that is an indicator they have not given much thought to learning from the experience.  Find applicants with lists of skills they want to learn more about and tools in which they are looking to gain experience.

Note from Chad: Jenni stood out here from the other applicants because she had a passion for learning how to use design tools and proved it. In our Google Hangout, she mentioned how she watched YouTube videos about Adobe tools to learn how to use them better.


Gnarly Company:

Ok, soon-to-be-startup-interns, you are on a great path to get your foot in the door and gain professional experience in the field in which you are interested. It is important to make a list of qualities YOU personally want out of an internship. These are just some basic concepts I used to make my own list:

1. Plethora of opportunities

This is the most important trait a company can have. What opportunities do they have for you to develop as a professional and learn the skills to make yourself more marketable when job searching? Do they have networking events you can attend, a mentor program for youngins like yourself, or other learning possibilities?

Shoutout to Lantern! Each day, I am on codecademy for about an hour, learning about different programming languages. So, I am being paid to learn! (Another shoutout to Lantern for having paid internships!)

And one of the biggest opportunities there is: does this internship have the potential to become a full-time position?

#ProTip: This is an awesome question to ask your potential internship boss-person.


2. Team of passionate, innovative thinkers

If the people are excited about their work, then that will transfer to you, even if it is not an industry or product in which you are familiar. If you are working full-time, most of your waking hours will be with those goobers, so you should enjoy being around them. Of course it is hard to gauge your compatibility before you start working, but ask to meet the team at your interview or sniff around the website to find the “about the team” section.  Is it the young, energetic group that is always going to happy hours with a strong team bond, or is it an older crowd that keeps work and outside life separate? What kinds of people are you looking to make connections with through this internship?


3. Culture & environment that fits how you feel comfortable working

So I imagine you are interested in the startup environment because of the fun, young, hip culture you have heard about. That is definitely something that intrigued me. I was looking for a cubical-free, dynamic environment in which I could feel energized and creative.  I did interview at places that did not offer this environment, people were not impassioned, no team-building events were offered, and I did not feel that welcomed. I am happy I did not accept their offers.

It might feel like you should take your first offer, but you are an AMAZING APPLICANT (you’re reading this article, right?) and you should not discount what you want out of an internship. If you are not going to be productive, or enjoy the environment, then it just is not a fit for you, and that’s alright, friend. You should feel like you are going to thrive in the culture and environment, you are seeing what works for you.


4.  Work you will be doing on a daily  basis

Probably one of the more crucial points: what work will you be doing?! Of course you are going to get those random assignments that are not in your “job description” but that is one of the joys of working at a smaller company! You get to wear many hats (one of the more overused idioms of the startup world).

It is necessary to get some ideas from the interview on the specifics of what you will usually be doing. It is important to remember that with a smaller team like a startup, your work is going to make an impact on the final product, consumers will be seeing your work. Are you ready for this responsibility? Of course you are! Now get out there and track down an incredible tech startup internship!


Have you had a tech startup internship? Or do you have an intern at your tech startup company? What have been your experiences?  Did you love it? Not for you? Stay in that limbo of liking it as a friend but not knowing if it’s going to progress to anything further? Let’s hear about it!


  • Clay Selby

    Great tips for any company (especially startups) looking to hire interns. Completely agree with putting learning first and willing to immerse yourself in the brand. Looks like LanternCRM got one heck of an intern!