Say you’ve secured a terrific internship with a company that you would love to work for full time. There are things you can do during your internship period to put you in a good position to acquire ongoing employment with the company.
As you begin the internship, think of it like auditioning for your future job. When you’re an intern, try to think about your role like a stage performer auditioning for a part in a cast by considering all the things that would make you most successful in the “role” as full time employee.
There are lots of ways to slip into the role, such as simple things like starting work on time. If your start is at 8 AM, get into the office fifteen minutes early, so that you actually start work at 8 o’clock.
Another easy way to show you’re full time material is to keep a neat work station. Be courteous and respectful of co-workers. And so on. All these things help you look and feel the part of the position you hope to gain, and show you know how to be a professional.
Being engaged with your supervisor(s) is an important aspect of your internship. When you meet with a manager to go over tasks or learn new processes, be an active listener, and clarify any points with questions. If you have ideas, share them. Also, take notes. It not only shows initiative, but it will also refresh your memory later so you can complete tasks accurately.
Being engaged in your internship position can also be a differentiator in group situations. Consider this scenario: an intern manager is running a training session for his and several other coworkers’ interns from throughout his company. During the meeting, not a single intern asks a question or makes a comment on the material presented. After the training, the intern manager notes that he can’t really tell if any of the interns present were paying attention. That was a missed opportunity for those interns to make a positive impression on someone who could recommend a full time hire.
Take advantage of learning new skills. Often, interns will get some flexibility to choose additional training. Even if you don’t get a job with the company where you have your internship, taking advantage of training opportunities helps you develop a more diverse skill set.
Also, you manager will most likely take note of those who do take advantage of training and other skill-enhancing opportunities. Companies value people who find ways to add more value to their work situations. So, if you want to make a favorable impression as an intern, as a stepping stone to a job, be sure to make the most of the training. Then, show your manager how you used this new knowledge on the job.
Make sure to talk honestly and openly with your manager about your desire for full time work. However, the timing this conversation is also very important. You don’t want to start your internship with this conversation, before you’ve even gotten down to work and shown why you’d be a valuable asset.
After you’ve established your good work habits, but before it’s late in the internship process, make an appointment with your manager to discuss any employment options. Waiting too late in the internship might delay the manager’s ability to find suitable opportunities for you. Timing is critical, so be aware of when you’re asking: not too early, not too late.
As well, when approaching a manager about full time work, be sure to already have a good idea of where he or she assesses your current work product. Be open to constructive criticism early in your internship, and learn to make improvements. Document your progress, so when you meet with your manager, you can talk in specifics about the things you’ve accomplished. This will help remind your manager how well you have done as an intern, and give him or her more to consider when discussing full time work.
Understand the company
Many companies do use their internship programs to pre-screen entry-level employees to see if they are a fit for the company and its culture. Take the time to really know what your company’s core mission is, and learn how to most effectively work with your manager and others. Understand your office’s culture, and how you can fit into it.
Of course, it’s a good idea to update your resume during your internship, and have it ready when you discuss full time employment. Even if you don’t immediately get a job, if you’ve been a quality intern, do ask for a reference. These things can help you land a position elsewhere.
When thinking about the change from intern to full time employee, always put yourself in your manager’s position. What can you do, each day, to make this decision and transition easy for him or her?
If it feels like a seamless transition, it makes it easy for someone to decide to bring you aboard. Focusing on what your manager wants and needs out an employee will make you a valued member of the team, and makes it easy to hire you once the internship is complete.