If you’re a CEO or a manager of a tech startup, you should be doing the happy dance right now!! Oh wait, haven’t you heard that American tech giants are working to improve STEM education in secondary school? It’s true! If we’re lucky and this trend continues we’ll soon have a fresh influx of newly-minted interns available to support our tech startup’s requirements at reduced rates.

I hired a data science intern just last month – and I tell you what, it wasn’t easy to find someone who could pull their own weight in terms of the STEM education that data science requires. I got lucky though… I found a gal who’d been a materials engineering student before relocating to UK to be with her husband. She had the education I needed in Calculus, basic programming, statistics, and linear algebra. To be honest, this was the first time an intern has ever worked out for my business.

In today’s post, you’re going to get a look at the top 3 characteristics to look for when hiring an intern for a tech startup, and why I believe that STEM education in secondary school spells success for your future tech business.

Intel and STEM Education in Secondary School

3 Signs That This Candidate Would Make a Great Tech Intern

The following are three characteristics to looking for when choosing a winning intern for your tech startup.

1. He or she has well-rounded exposure to many STEM areas

It’s typical for an engineering or tech intern to get the chance to support projects from many different divisions – I know I sure did in those years that I worked as an engineer intern. By spreading your intern’s talents around your business units, they’re able to provide you low-cost support and general technical expertise across much of your business. If you’ve got a candidate that’s taken a wide breadth of introductory level STEM classes, this person will be one step ahead in being able to support diverse areas and technical requirements within your business.

2. He or she has demonstrable passion for all things STEM

Let’s face it, a career in tech is only for people who love a challenge. If you aren’t passionate about tech, you won’t last long – that, and as an intern you probably won’t do much more than mess things up. When evaluating a candidate for your tech internship, look for a long history of interest and activity within the STEM fields. Basically, if STEM is just a recent interest for them, it’s probably also just a passing interest.

A word to the wise, look for candidates that have been actively involved in their tech pursuits for at least 3 years (if half of that time was while they were in high school, it’s no less valid).

3. He or she has a mind for the innovative

To come up with new solutions, you need new ideas. The right intern can have a lot to contribute in terms of novel, outside-the-box solutions. Look for someone who knows and understands what’s happening on the leading edge of technology. A solid STEM education is an excellent value-add, but exposure to cutting-edge tech trends will make the right candidate next-level valuable.


Why STEM education in secondary school spells success for the future of your tech startup

Going back to STEM giants and their role in all this… If you’ve been following along with this blog series, you’d know I’m referring to Intel and it’s Tech Innovation Lab. This mobile virtual lab environment creates an immersive experience in which high-school students learn, explore, and work on cutting-edge simulated projects related to:

  • Robotics
  • Virtual reality
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Internet-of-things

This type of immersive, technical exposure seeds the hearts and minds of our future tech workers. Getting this type of experience at such a young age, helps these high school students begin making well-informed decisions about the career paths that might be right for them. It sets them on the right track, to move forward and begin exploring and expressing their passion for tech. Their curiosity should drive them to obtaining the STEM education that they’ll need to add value as a intern at your tech startup in the future. What’s more, Intel Tech Innovation Lab provides high school students with real hands-on experience in cutting-edge tech innovation; Just the type of background you need an ideal tech intern.

To learn more about what Intel is doing to provide STEM education in secondary school and to prepare our youth for their future careers, check out their website here.

Disclaimer: This post was written as part of a collaboration between @BigDataGal and Intel, to help get the word out about the Intel Tech Learning Lab.

Lillian Pierson, P.E.

Hi, I'm Lillian Pierson, PE (CEO of Data-Mania). I’m a data leader that supports data professionals to get ahead in their own data careers by developing data leadership capabilities. To date, I’ve trained over 1 million workers on the topics of AI and data science. Since 2013, Data-Mania, LLC has provided high-impact training to data-driven professionals so they can support their organizations in making major digital transformations. Additionally, we offer powerful online programs designed to transform data professionals into data leaders.

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