Growth Trends for Related Jobs
You did the research, landed the internship and are cruising along with a company that you really like. Now what? If you want to increase your chances of turning the temporary position into a full-time job, take note of what career experts and hiring managers are looking for (and what they’re not), to ensure you put your best foot forward doing your internship. Here are the best ways to show off your skills while also signaling your desire to take the next steps toward a long-term position when your internship ends.
Do great work
While the point of any internship is to learn more about an industry and get your first career experience, many times it’s also an extended job interview. So when career experts tell you to make the most of your internship, here’s what they mean. Even though it’s a learning experience, you can still stand out as a great performer. Do basic things like show up on time, pay attention to detail, proofread all your work before handing it over to your manager, and be proactive about asking questions early on if you don’t fully understand an assignment. This all demonstrates that you take it seriously and you’ve got the potential to be a superstar employee.
This may seem counterintuitive since you definitely don’t want to go around asking simple questions that can be answered by a quick Google search, but the point here is that you want to show that you’re trying to understand the job and the company in greater detail. For example, if you’re tasked with building a spreadsheet and you know a few shortcuts that would produce better results with a simplified version of the document, ask your supervisor if there’s a reason why she needs it in the specific format. Perhaps that’s how a former employee did it and no one ever thought to question the method. Or alternatively, ask bigger questions about job functions and how departments work together if you are eyeing a permanent role. This demonstrates that you’re curious about how the company functions on a much bigger scale.
This is the easiest thing to master, but often the most overlooked. When it comes to being professional in an office environment, a lot of what means is paying attention to the other employees around you and following their lead. Beyond showing up on time, be sure to pay attention to best practices about who you need to call or text if you can’t work or will be late. Also, what is the office dress code? Many professional settings today don’t require a suit and tie, but don’t go the other extreme and show up in clothing better suited for lounging at home. Take cues from your boss and others in your department to understand if jeans are OK, or if you need to dress business casual. Another way to show you’re ready to be a full-time employee is to understand the dynamics of team or client meetings. If invited to these meetings, are you the one that is expected to take notes? Should you speak up or is your role to listen silently? If you’re not sure, always ask. Believe it or not your manager will be thrilled to see that you’re thinking ahead.
Network in and out of the office
It’s always great to make friends with other interns in the office, but who else can help your career long and short-term? Beyond networking with those on your team, can you set up lunches or coffee meetings with others in the department? Are there other managers or department heads that can offer advice or career tips? Be sure to ask about industry organizations that you can join, or which organizations those in your office find helpful. This is a great way to meet others in the industry and develop a wide net of contacts. And lastly, think of this as a long-term career move, not a short-term endeavor to land a job. Even if the company you are interning with doesn’t have any open positions, stay in touch with your manager periodically. Job openings shift all the time and often managers leave and join new companies where they are tasked with hiring new talent. If you were a star intern, they’ll remember.
Ask about full-time opportunities
Here’s a truth about hiring managers: They don’t automatically assume that you want a full-time job after your internship ends. Especially if they are in a department where interns are customary, they’ve seen their share of people come for a semester or a summer, take in the experience, and then decide they don’t really want to work in the industry, opt for grad school instead, or cite other reasons why they don’t want to stick around. So be direct, though professional, and communicate your desire to transition to a full-time job. And talk to others, too, like HR and other hiring managers to get word out that you like the company and you want to be part of the team long-term.
Lastly, just be a great person. Managers understand you’re learning the ropes and you don’t have all the answers. Often what they really need for entry-level positions are people that they trust and know they can train. It’s easy to train for some specific tasks, but it’s not always as easy to find dependable team members.
Kristin Amico is a career and business writer who spent more than a decade managing creative teams at digital agencies. She has written for The Muse, The Independent and USA Today.