So, you’re the new office intern? The good news: You've got your foot in the door, congrats on scratching the surface. The bad news: You've just started a 3-month-long interview.
But in this job market, the bad news is actually really good. A study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers found that 58 percent of employers turned their interns to full-time employees this year. So even though a lengthy, months-long interview might sound a little intimidating and tedious, it’s great opportunity to prove your worth to the company – and there’s a good chance your hard work will land you your first real job!
Take it from me … I started at CareerBliss about six months ago as a doe-eyed, optimistic intern. But it was exactly that wide-eyed approach that helped leverage my internship into my first full-time job.
Consider these tried-and-tested tips on how to bring your “A” game to your internship:
Before the Internship
1. Tell them what you want
If you are serious about turning your internship into a full-time position, tell them this from the very beginning — even as soon as your interview. Some employers create internship programs specifically for temporary interns. So, you’ll save yourself a lot of heartbreak if you establish your intentions from the get-go. If your employer is keen to the idea, then you’ve got yourself an amazing opportunity. If not, then this internship may not be right for you.
2. Read up on them
The last thing you want to do is walk in with a deer-in-the-headlights look on your face. Do your best to prepare, and become as knowledgeable as you can about the company, its competitors and the industry overall. There’s no way to learn everything about the company, but a solid research will be a great springboard for deeper, smarter questions when you actually get into the nitty-gritty.
4. Interview them
Remember that you’re testing the waters with this company just as much as they are testing you. Take advantage of the internship to see if you can spot bad company culture before you get excited about working full-time. On the other hand, if you find that you love the company culture, you’ll have all the more motivation to do your absolute best.
During the Internship
3. Write it down
Take the initiative and create a spreadsheet where you can track and update all of the milestones and tasks you complete as they are assigned. At the end of the internship, this will come in handy when you make your case to become a full-time hire. This tangible record will serve as both proof of the value you’ve added to the company and motivation for yourself to continue adding valuable accomplishments to the list throughout your internship.
5. Be a sponge!
It’s a cliché for a reason. Absorb all of your surroundings. Your boss and coworkers realize that you’re an intern, and you’re not expected to know how to do everything that’s assigned to you. Take advantage of this short period in your life when it’s okay to ask questions about the basics. If you make a mistake, don’t let it get you down. Stay positive, and remember that employers will look at how you react to the mistake rather than the mistake itself.
6. Act like a full-time hire
Even though you’re only an intern, be confident in your abilities and cordially talk to everyone at the company like you’re here to stay. If you like the company culture, show it by immersing yourself in the company outings and picnics. Small-talking with your coworkers while waiting in line for your morning coffee will slowly build relationships, and it’ll be nice to see their congratulatory smile when you hopefully tell them the good news of your full-time hire.
End of the Internship
7. Meet face-to-face
As you near the end of the internship period, schedule a meeting with your employers to talk about your performance and possibilities of continuing your employment at the company. Bring your list of accomplishments, and show them exactly how you’ve proved yourself valuable. The rest is up to them.
8. Keep your connections
If you haven’t already done so, no matter what the outcome is of your internship, make sure you keep in touch with all of the connections you’ve made at this internship. Add everyone you've worked with and met on LinkedIn, and make sure you send them a quick hello from time to time to maintain your relationship.
9. Don’t rush any decisions
If you receive a full-time offer, remember that you are not obligated to take it. For instance, if the company is not a good fit, be appreciative of the offer, but realize that you can take your newfound experience to a culture that better fits you.
If you are unsatisfied with the pay, research your market value by comparing salaries of similar job titles at various companies with your level of limited experience. But be honest and sincere about this—because if you counteroffer with a number above what you know you’re worth, you could lose the offer altogether.