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Intern Insights: Soft skills I have gained from being an intern – and how to make use of them in your CV

Riina Posti – South East Skills Marketing and Events intern

If you have read week 1 and week 2 of Intern Insights, you will have been introduced to me, and to the different types of skills. This week I am discussing some of my internship experiences again, and more specifically three soft skills which I have been able to improve along the way. I will also explain how anyone can showcase these skills in their application: adaptability, interpersonal skills and problem-solving skills.

Adaptability

Adaptability is one of the big winners in the current work environment. Job roles are constantly changing, technology is being developed further and we have entered a whole new era of flexible working. I have developed this skill in each of my job roles: moving away from home, working in a new language and adapting to working from home as a few examples.

For me, putting adaptability on my CV means that I can quickly adjust to changes in my work environment, and this is an asset when coming into a new workplace. Especially if there are changing teams and projects, being adaptable also means I can take either a leadership role or supporting position depending on what the task at hand requires.

So how can you prove that you are adaptable? Instead of just adding the word to your list of skills, make sure you can think of a situation where you have had to adapt. After the pandemic year, no one can say they are not adaptable. Maybe you had to start studying from home or had to balance children staying at home with your own work? Perhaps even learned to do your weekly shop online? If so, these were all adaptations you had to make to make the best of the situation you found yourself in.

Interpersonal Skills

Interpersonal, or sometimes called social skills essentially mean the way a person interacts and communicates with people. There are many skills that lie under this terminology, such as leadership, verbal and non-verbal communication, building relationships, active listening and being able to empathise. These are all skills that you develop over the course of your entire life and career.

For me, an important skill to have learned is relationship management – essentially building lasting connections with people. This skill has proved good in tourism and retail roles, because knowing the guest or customer helps provide a friendly service. When I worked in an all-inclusive hotel in Tenerife, one of the aspects of the entertainment team’s job was to just go around the hotel and have conversations with people. This meant getting to know the guest, perhaps if they were travelling with family or as a couple, and listening to any concerns or wishes they may have for their stay. Not only did this help the hotel create the best possible experience for the guest, but it also taught me the importance of building relationships. In the future I can use this skill for example in a sales-oriented role, or to gain repeat customers in a retail role, or even to create thriving business relationships in an administrative or communications position.

So how do you showcase interpersonal skills in a CV? I would say most jobs require working with people one way or another, whether it is with management, with a team or facing customers. Pick one of the skills I listed, and think of how you have developed it already and how you can improve in the future. Think about the job description as well: which aspect would be most beneficial in this role? If you can answer how and why, this is what you can highlight in your application.

Problem-solving Skills

Problem solving is relevant in any given job, and alike to interpersonal skills, this is developed constantly as you gain experience professionally and personally. In most interviews I have gone to, I have been asked to give an example of how I have overcome a problem or challenging situation.

My internships have given me plenty of opportunity to practice this skill. Employers should remember, that if new professionals are never given a chance to solve issues on their own, it limits their possibility to learn. This does not mean that managers should not want to get involved at all, but it should be a reminder to take on board the employee’s view on how to resolve the problem at hand. I always try to match my answer to the role that I am applying for – would it be best to speak about an experience related to an unhappy customer, a technical issue or an organisational challenge? I have previously given examples such as finding a guest accommodation from a fully booked hotel where I had to manually shuffle around all the reservations; and dealing with a technical issue at a live, virtual event I was organising.

If you have problem solving listed within your skills on the CV, be prepared to explain where you have demonstrated it before! The key here is to have multiple different scenarios in your arsenal which you can use in the interview setting, or one scenario which you can describe from different angles. Another good aspect to bring to the table is how you react in an unexpected situation. Are you able to stay calm and rationalise the situation? How do your thought processes work when you have to start untangling an issue?

I hope you enjoyed this blog about some soft skills you can add to your CV and ace that application! Coming up, I will tune into a range of hard skills which you can learn and develop, and use to your advantage in the job hunt – once again based on my internship experiences!