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Here's how internships can help you develop people skills
College students, especially the first and second-year ones, often hesitate to apply to internships for the reason that they don't have any job-specific or technical skills.

It’s a reasonable concern but this doesn’t have to mean they can’t do any internships. Students might not have advanced technical skills but there are skills that they have been learning their whole life - people skills. For instance, a first-year engineering student might not have any polished technical skills but could have exceptional people skills which could help her bag her first internship in a different field.

This way, she could get an exposure to an entirely new domain, polish her soft skills, and learn professional etiquettes which could go a long way in leaving an impression on the employers when she is applying for her dream internship in future.

What are people skills?

People skills are nothing but a person’s abilities to communicate, interact, and relate to others on both professional and personal level. Some of the major people skills are communication skills, interpersonal skills, empathy, and patience.

Communication skills - Communication skills happen to be the most prominent people skills one could have. Good communication skills are not limited to having a good hold over a language; it also represents your abilities to listen attentively, understanding others’ perspective, and present your views with clarity in both ways - verbal and written.

Interpersonal skills - Often confused with communication skills, interpersonal skills are more about how you behave and interact with people, what’s your attitude towards them, how do you deal with conflicts, how do you negotiate with them, and how are your persuasion skills.

Empathy - A crucial people skill to have is empathy. It is defined as your ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes, understand their perspective, challenges they are facing, and their emotions. This helps you pay attention on a personal level and could be extremely helpful in understanding both your customers and teammates thus enabling you to take better business decisions.

Patience - Patience is an exceptionally valuable gem to have in your skill-set. Patience involves having an ability to keep an even temper in the most challenging situations like if someone fails to understand something and you have to explain again or while you are having a difference of opinion with someone or if someone doesn’t come through on their end of work.

The aforementioned are some of the major people skills each and every professional needs to possess irrespective of their line of profession. However, there are a few professions that are based on these particular skills only. So, if you are good with people and love to interact with them, you could try your hands on the following internships:

1.     Human resources - As an HR intern, you are required to fulfil a range of responsibilities from recruitment and employer branding to employee management and engagement. Here, you could implement your people skills as your work would include handling multiple tasks like interacting with managers, clients, and potential employees over email, call, or face-to-face, managing internal conflicts, ensuring employee satisfaction, and creating branding strategies.

2.     Customer service - During a customer service internship, you are expected to maintain fruitful relationships with the customers by ensuring that they have a good user experience and by resolving their issues. This includes communicating with them over emails and phone calls and assisting them patiently. For instance, if some customer is a behaving in a rude manner, you need to understand their concern and deal with them in a polite manner.

3.     Teaching - As a teacher, you practice your people skills all the time. To understand each student, you must have excellent observation and listening skills. You might often face challenges where a student won’t listen to you or a student might be having trouble learning. Here, you have to be patient with them, understand their problems, and help them individually.

4.     Volunteering - NGO/volunteering internships are yet another opportunities where you could put your people skills to best use. During volunteering internships, your work could include fundraising, conducting surveys, helping the elderly, teaching the underprivileged children, raising awareness, and so on.

5.      Sales and marketing - As a sales and marketing intern, you promote and sell your company’s products and services. For the same, you need to have a good understanding of your consumers’ needs, explain how your services could assist with it, and persuade them to buy your services.

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