Interns and New Hires: Show ‘Drive’ to Please Your Employer

Posted on by Christine Lee

I was in a local coffee shop recently, waiting to meet a local small business employer to talk about internships, and I overheard two well-dressed 30-something businessmen catching up on their respective companies at a nearby table. Here’s what I heard:

Professional guy #1: “So you just hired a couple of new people, right? How’s it going?”

Professional guy #2: “Yeah, we did. We hired Amanda and Chris. They’re great. They were interns with us, and then we hired them on full-time. But….”

#1: “Oh yeah, I remember them. But what? Problems already?”

#2: “Well, it’s just that we have to teach them e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. They don’t have any ‘drive’ to learn things on their own.”

#1: “Yeah, I know what you mean. We’ve had a hard time hiring lately because of that too. I don’t want to say they’re lazy, but they just don’t seem to care.”

And then it was time for me to order my coffee, so I stopped eavesdropping. But it got me thinking – what is this “drive” and haven’t I heard employers bemoan this issue before? So I did a little digging into “drive” and respectfully submit this for your consideration as you develop yourself for today’s work world. Maybe it’s time for you to crank up your “drive.”

Drive – it’s a thing you have, not a thing you do. And “drive” is the thing that employers are looking for in you, yet often (really often) they complain that they’re not getting it from interns and new hires. (See dialog above for a recap.)

To be sure you get a clear picture of what it is and isn’t, synonyms for “drive” (the noun) include: leadership, initiative, ambition, push, dynamism, energy, enthusiasm, gumption, resourcefulness, spunk, enterprise, get-up-and-go, and more. In some cases it can be described as a “can do” or “whatever it takes” attitude.

Conversely, antonyms include: laziness, apathy, and indifference. This would be your basic garden-variety unimpressive “whatever” or “that’s not my job” attitude. Not really the thing that employers want in a “newbie,” is it?

Drive describes someone who is hungry to perform the job well; someone who has the self-initiative and interest to learn on his/her own and direct activity toward the project goal; troubleshoot before asking for the answer; and follow-through to assure team success. These go-getters are self-motivated and view the organization’s achievements to be as important as their own. Drive defines the “playmakers” on the team versus the “benchwarmers.” Put “drive” to work for you and develop it as a thing you have, and not just a thing you do.

Visit the Career Resource Center at: and the Internship Program site at: for more information on career development.