Planning Your Dreams: How to Turn Your Internship into a Full-Time CareerNovember 12, 2018
Planning Your Dreams – An ELFI blog series dedicated to helping college students and young professionals navigate through their education experience and succeed in the beginning steps of their careers.
Congratulations! You’ve got an internship and you want to get the best return on the time invested there – you want a job. Get your career started, make some real money and start paying off those student loans. By simply having an internship you’ve increased your chances because companies often hire the interns they like. What separates the interns they hire from the ones they don’t? We’ve got a few tips here to help you keep your foot in the door.
Be more than present.
There’s a balance between knowing when to speak up and when not to, but for the most part, it’s better to speak than to not. Be part of the conversation in meetings. Ask questions and throw out your opinion when appropriate. There’s nothing more unattractive to a potential employer than an intern that does little more than take oxygen out of the room.
Figure out where you can help.
Try and be a part of the team. Sometimes a company has a well-established intern program. Sometimes they don’t. Sometimes employees are too busy to find things for you to do. The best thing to do is find out how you can contribute. When you notice someone is overwhelmed, see how you can help. Having made someone’s day easier and more productive can really help set you apart when management decides what if any interns are hired.
Get to know people.
Interns can often fly under the radar at a workplace. You should make a concerted effort to get to know people and what they do. If at the end of your time, most people around the office don’t even know your name, that’s going to really lessen your chances of getting an offer. That’s why it’s important to try to make an impression outside of the couple of people you normally come into contact with.
If you’re fetching coffee – do it well.
Sometimes being an intern can mean doing somewhat menial tasks like getting lunch or coffee, setting up for meetings, or running errands. Whatever the task, do them well. Often employers will have interns do these things to see how competent and enthusiastic they are. If you do it well, you’ll probably get more important tasks. Conversely, if you are only getting coffee and that’s all they ever want you for, it might not be the best place to work.
Put the phone down.
Be active and engaged at the internship. Don’t pull out your phone to go through social streams or answer emails. Even if you see other people in a meeting do it. It’s a bad habit that many of us have, and if you want them to know you care about what is going on you’ll avoid it.
As an intern, it can be tough to stand out. By asking questions to your supervisor or while in a meeting it’ll help to make you stand out. In addition, you’ll learn more about the industry or topic being discussed. Don’t be afraid to ask a question if you need clarity.
Think for yourself.
Employers want to see that you can solve problems. That doesn’t mean you can’t ask questions. But at least try and figure things out beforehand. Sometimes a good Google search can do a lot. Whatever you do, don’t avoid the task because you couldn’t figure out how to do it.
Don’t just punch the clock.
If you really want to show people you want to be there, don’t head for the door at the first possible minute every day. Come in early and stay late from time to time. Show people you’re not just there because you have to be, but because you want to be.
Make sure it’s the right fit.
Don’t just take a job to take a job. It probably won’t be good for the company or your career. An internship is a great way for you to learn about a business or industry. It’s also a way for a company to evaluate you, but you should also be doing an evaluation. By the end of your time there if it doesn’t feel right, look for something else. Your internship experience may help you get a job someplace better suited to you.
Set Goals for Yourself
Being an intern, there really aren’t any expectations as to what you can do. Be sure to do your best and set personal goals for yourself. Goal setting will help to keep you busy even when there may not be work provided to you. Setting personal goals is a great habit to start and will help you as you further your career.
Regardless of the industry, your internship may be in – be sure to work hard. Hard work pays off as the old saying states. Hard work is just one part of everything that we’ve touched on here, but all of these habits are needed. The younger you can start these habits the better off you will be moving forward. If your internship doesn’t turn into a full-time job opportunity don’t be too disappointed and use it as a stepping stone. If you didn’t like your internship and you were offered a job, be sure to think it over. You don’t want to be working at a job you aren’t happy with. Good luck with your continued professional journey!