10 Ways to Turn an Internship Into a Full-Time JobNovember 12, 2018
Updated July 8, 2022
As a college student, you probably think regularly about what your career will look like. One of the benefits of an internship is the chance to get a foot in the door of your industry and gain work experience in college.
But how do you start that process? Putting your best foot forward can give you the best chance of being brought on board as a permanent employee. Here are a few tips to help you stand out in your internship, and potentially even turn an internship into a full-time job.
1. Be more than present.
Take the initiative to speak up and share your ideas, even as an intern. Remember that, as a college student, you bring a fresh perspective that’s valuable to your team.
With that in mind, do your best to contribute to the conversation in meetings. Ask questions and offer your ideas or opinions when appropriate. There’s nothing more engaging for a potential employer than an intern who is clearly invested in helping the company succeed.
2. Figure out where you can help.
Many companies have well-established internship programs, but in other companies, the internship program may be unstructured. If you find yourself without regular tasks to do, be proactive in finding ways to contribute. Connect with your coworkers to learn about their day-to-day tasks, and if your boss is on board, offer to support their initiatives where you can.
Having made someone’s day easier and more productive is a great way to set yourself apart if you’re looking to turn your internship into a full-time job.
3. Get to know people.
Networking in college is one of the best ways to turn your internship into a full-time job. Take the time to get to know the people you work with, and don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with your coworkers. Not only will you have the chance to learn more about the company and your industry. You may also make an impression on someone who could help you build your career.
4. Even if you’re fetching coffee – do it well.
In all likelihood, as an intern, you’ll be expected to carry out some repetitive or seemingly menial tasks while you’re still learning. Even if you’re taking care of administrative work like picking up lunch or coffee, setting up for meetings, or running errands, your employer will notice if you do your tasks diligently and with a good attitude.
Often, employers will have interns do these types of tasks to see how competent and enthusiastic they are. If you do your job well, you’re likely to be trusted with more important tasks. Conversely, if you continue giving your best work as an intern and find that there’s little opportunity for recognition or growth at your company, then you may want to keep that in mind when the time comes to apply for full-time jobs.
5. Stay engaged.
If you really want to turn your internship into a full-time job, then it’s important to appear actively engaged while you’re at work. That means, even if you have some downtime between tasks, be careful not to scroll through social media or pull up an episode of your favorite show. You may see other interns – or even full-time employees – doing these things, but keep in mind that the goal is to set yourself apart.
Instead of disengaging, take free time as an opportunity to learn more about your industry or career path. Do some research about career opportunities in your field, ask your supervisor for additional work if appropriate, or take some extra time to go above and beyond in your current projects.
6. Ask good questions.
As an intern, it can be tough to stand out, but asking good questions in meetings is a great way to show you’re invested in what you’re working on. In addition, you’ll learn about the industry or topic being discussed. Be confident in raising your hand or speaking up if there’s something you’re unclear about or interested in.
7. Do your homework.
If you’re having a hard time finding something or figuring out a task, you may be tempted to ask your boss what to do. Before you do, though, first consider whether you’ve done everything you can to find the answer on your own. In many cases, you may be able to search for the answer online, check the company handbook, or use an older piece of work as a template for what you’re working on.
At the end of the day, if you’ve done your best and simply can’t find the answer, then checking in with your boss is a good idea. Coming to them with your homework already done, however, shows that you’ve been proactive in searching for the answer yourself before asking for help.
8. Stop watching the clock.
Of course, maintaining a work-life balance is important, but part of working full-time is understanding that some days may be a little longer than others. If you really want to turn your internship into a full-time job, don’t head for the door as quickly as possible at the end of the day. Instead, from time to time, take a few extra minutes to wrap up your project, or come in a few minutes early for some extra face-time with company leadership.
While you don’t have to be the first person in and the last person out every day, occasionally putting in some extra time shows your drive to do a good job, and your employer will take notice.
9. Make sure it’s the right fit.
An internship is a great way for you to learn about a business or industry. While it’s certainly an opportunity for your employer to learn more about you, it’s also a chance for you to evaluate the company.
While every company has its quirks, it’s important to trust your intuition when it comes to choosing the next step in your career. By the end of your internship, if the job or company doesn’t feel like the right fit, be sure to keep that in mind. Even if you decide not to turn your internship into a full-time job, you can still take away valuable lessons and insights that will benefit your career.
10. Set goals for yourself.
Setting personal goals is one of the best ways to make sure you’re getting the most out of your internship. Whether it’s a goal to learn something about the industry, complete a specific project, or simply become comfortable working in a professional environment, this is a great habit to start early in your career.
Regardless of the industry you’re in, it’s important to put your best foot forward if you want to turn your internship into a full-time job. Plus, the earlier you start to practice these good habits, the easier they’ll be to implement later in your career.
Ultimately, whether or not you decide to stick with the company full-time, making the most of your internship will help lay a strong foundation for the rest of your professional journey.