Top 5 Employer Feedback Takeaways from the Internship Fair

fair-supervisor-f17Would you like to know what employers thought of HOD students at the Internship Fair?

Here are 5 takeaways you can apply moving forward with the HOD Internship search:

  1. They are very likely to offer you a job.

93.93% of employer responders stated that they were either “Definitely” or “Very Likely” going to hire an HOD intern for the summer/fall. The odds are in your favor, but you must follow-up with employers you hear from via email/phone to continue the process smoothly. Do not take longer than 24 hours to respond to professional contacts. Remember, even it you are not interested, you stand to gain interview experience and to build relationships. Should you choose not to confirm with the site, you should send a letter of regret as follow-up communication.

2. Some parts of your resume are more important than others.

According to our employer feedback, here is what you should emphasize on your cover letter and resume:


You might be wondering how to show “work ethic” or “initiative” on your resume. Your implementation of course projects and/or role in extracurricular activities could demonstrate these skills. You can be creative with how to showcase these attributes on your resume.

3. The most important qualities employers look for in an intern are:

1) Professional Work Ethic 2) Oral/Written Communication 3) Teamwork/Collaboration


4. According to employers, your greatest area for development is conducting stronger market research.

It is important to employers that you have researched their business. You should demonstrate a handle on current, relevant market research before the internship fair and even more critically, your interview. Having a working understanding of current market trends specific to the industry/company you are applying to work in shows knowledge, initiative, and interest beyond meeting the requirements of simply being a student. It increases the likelihood that employers will take you seriously for hiring as an intern and potentially for a full-time position. You will also have excellent material to customize your list of questions for the employer.

Market research is critical to the success of any business. It helps companies understand their consumer, examine their competition, and develop innovative strategies to maximize impact and minimize risk. These are all skills that you will be expected to demonstrate in your HOD internship as an employee, and in your coursework as a student.

5. What sets our HOD interns apart?

We asked our Internship Fair employers what keeps them coming back to Vanderbilt to speak with HOD intern candidates, and have a sample of their responses. Insider tip: these are skills/abilities you may want to highlight in interviews.

“HOD interns are able to work on a wide range of issues at our agency, and they do so in a professional and competent manner.”

“They are well-rounded students who can transition into various areas of business.”

“Most of our interns come with a strong desire to have an impact on the company and to engage from day one. This is very important to us.”

“Having an intern for 30 hours a week versus 8-10 sets the HOD program apart from many other internship opportunities. The interns learn to become part of the organization, and not just an outsider working with us for a short time. That mindset leads to greater productivity and a greater fulfillment in the product.”

“Structured, high-performing candidates that add value through their time but especially through their primary program deliverable.”

“It is clear that HOD interns, above and beyond interns or volunteers that we may find from any other source, are hungry learners and are asking themselves if they can make something even better rather than just fulfilling the tasks that are asked of them.”

Finally, don’t forget the HOD Internship Office is here to support you if you have any follow-up questions or would like to set up a meeting to discuss this material further. The HOD office is open Monday-Friday from 8:30-4:30.



“A Day in the Life” by Sydney Larsen

Intern Spotlight


Sydney Larsenlarsen-photo-1

Fall 2016

Internship Site: Interfaith Dental Clinic

What was the highlight of your experience (i.e. projects you worked on, people you met, events you attended)?

This internship gave me the chance to gain an in-depth view into all of the hard work that goes into running a healthcare-oriented non-profit organization. Working on projects for the Education Center and Development teams allowed me to cultivate new skills in Excel and graphic design, but my favorite experience by far was that involving the people that Interfaith serves. Although it was a small job, I was assigned the task of calling to inform clients that they were accepted into the comprehensive care program. Hearing the excitement and joy in many of their voices really solidified the importance of the work that Interfaith does, and reinforced my own desire to pursue involvement in the nonprofit sector of dentistry someday.

How does the HOD capstone internship compare to other internships you have had?

As a pre-health student, it is often difficult to find internships outside of the research world, as healthcare positions require a great deal of training and qualification. Participating in the HOD Internship gave me an incredibly unique opportunity to be in a healthcare setting for over 30 hours a week, something that few other pre-dental students get to do. While my time was divided between clinical observation and projects for the Education and Development teams, this experience provided in-depth shadowing experience, something that is vital for anyone pursuing dentistry. The wide variety of care that Interfaith offers gave me the chance to observe everything from simple cleanings, all the way to IV-sedated oral surgery. Additionally the internship coursework gave me the chance to focus on learning more about the challenges and opportunities of the industry and gain valuable mentors.

How do you think you have grown as a professional (i.e. skills, learning to receive feedback, professionalism tips)?

I think one of the most valuable parts of this internship was simply getting used to a “real adult” schedule and workload. Learning to balance work with the demands of coursework and life, thought difficult at first, was great practice for life after graduation.


What are the top 3 pieces of advice you would recommend for the internship search process?

  • Start early! Even if you are still far away from your internship, start researching and actively seeking out organizations you think you might be interested in, make some contacts, and get your foot in the door. That will make the search process much less stressful.
  • Stay in your industry! This may be an unpopular opinion, but don’t use this internship as a chance to try something new or explore your far-fetched “dream job.” When it comes down to the reality of it, thirty-two hours a week is a very long time to spend doing something that you are only mildly interested in. Additionally, this is a wonderful chance to get experience and recognition within your industry, as many organizations are very enthusiastic about hiring an almost full time worker at no cost.
  • Cast a wide net. Even if you have one specific organization in mind, send out as many applications and resumes as soon as you can. Just in case things don’t work out, you will be thankful to have backups.

Why did you choose your site for your internship?

As a pre-dental HOD student (probably the only one), my choice was very straightforward. I came across Interfaith fairly early on during my sophomore year and was immediately drawn to their mission and the unique structure of the organization. Nonprofit dentistry is what I hope to do in the future, so it was very lucky that I was able to find such a perfect fit.

How will this internship impact your future (i.e. change career, landed a job)?

This internship has only reinforced and expanded my desire to pursue nonprofit dentistry. Additionally it has made me aware of Interfaith’s Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency, something that I would love to explore after my time in dental school. My time at Interfaith gave me the chance to start to create a network of dental professionals in the Nashville community, something that could be very useful in the upcoming years.

Thank you to Sydney for providing this helpful information and advice!