So you finally started the internship that you worked very hard to secure. Hopefully you are enjoying it, learning a lot and meeting interesting people. Research shows that 85 percent of companies use internships and similar experiential education to recruit for their full-time positions. So how do you make the most of your internship so that you can be one of the lucky ones offered full time employment?
Present a Can Do and Will Do Attitude
Eagerly do what is asked of you, including making copies or answering the phones. Prove that you can do these tasks with a smile and you will be seen as a cooperative team player. We all have undertaken tasks that seem menial, however it’s the attitude that you present that is important. Building trust, even in completing the simplest tasks can lead to projects with greater amounts of exposure over time. If you find the menial tasks are happening too often then have a discussion with your boss regarding your responsibilities, so you are both on the same page.
Find Ways to Impress
Go above and beyond what is required of you. Give 100 percent in everything that you do. Once you know the lay of the land, look for ways to be proactive. Be on the lookout for new, creative, cost-effective ways to do things. As an intern, you can bring a fresh perspective and may find solutions to problems that full-time employees cannot see. The ability to problem-solve is a key skill that employers are looking for.
Meet, Talk and Connect
Get to know as many people as possible during your internship both inside and outside your department. Conduct informational interviews with people who are doing jobs that seem interesting to you. Connect with people on LinkedIn and then continue to cultivate the relationship when you return to school. Stay in touch with these contacts and look for ways to help them.
Students often say they are afraid to ask questions for fear of sounding ignorant. A manager would rather you ask questions than make a mistake that costs time and money. Remember this is an internship and the expectation is that you are there to learn and contribute. If you finish your assignments ahead of schedule let your boss know, and seek out additional projects. This shows initiative. If he or she does not have a project, ask if you can help someone else. Most employees will welcome the assistance of an eager intern.
Social Media Mores
In this age of technology, there is some protocol on social media in the workplace. Don’t be that person who is checking your Facebook wall, emails and texting at your desk all day. At a minimum, you should know the company’s social media policy. If it is not clear, ask!!!! Remember you are trying to make a positive impression as a potential full-time employee. Don’t post anything negative about your internship or employer on any social media site. Should you “friend” your boss or your co-workers on Facebook? In general I do not think this is a good idea however an alternative is connecting on Linked In.
Leave on a positive note
Most companies offer the opportunity for a formal evaluation at the conclusion of the internship. This is a good time for you to get constructive feedback on your performance. Be prepared to discuss your accomplishments, problems that you solved or ways you made an impact. If you are interested in a full-time position in the future, tell your supervisor and find out the process for staying in touch and being considered. Being positive and enthusiastic will be remembered.
The internship experience is a great opportunity for a company to evaluate you and for you to evaluate the company, work environment and potential opportunities. Hopefully if you follow some of these strategies, you will be the one saying “yes” or “no” in the coming year.
Career Coach and Facilitator of the Port Washington Job Club