If you’re going to give up your precious summer break or coveted after-school and weekend hours to intern at a company, you sure as heck want to get something out of it, right? But parlaying your internship into a full-time opportunity can be tricky, and it’s hard to determine the most tactful way to advocate for yourself. Here are a few things you can do to leave a company wanting more:
It may seem obvious, but many a deficient intern has left their work unfinished, failing to see the long-term repercussions of the loose ends they leave – after all, it’s not your problem once school starts back up in the fall, is it? Well, yes it is, actually. Because if you want solid recommendations or a possible job waiting for you when you graduate, you really need to put forth your best effort. Demonstrate that, even as an unpaid, inexperienced intern, you are someone that your boss can rely on. And if you manage to complete your work early, go a step further and volunteer to take on other projects. You’ll really make a difference at a company and they’ll be anxious to have you back.
Another common mistake that interns make is taking a very narrow view of their work. When you have tunnel vision at an internship, you squander one of the most important reasons you are there – to learn. Showing up at an internship isn’t just about getting through the day and then slapping it on your resume after three months. It’s getting to know the ins and outs of an industry, so that you are more qualified to assume a full-time position in this sector when you’re through. When you graduate, your goal probably isn’t to land another similar internship. So try to cultivate the skill set of a more advanced position within the company by paying attention to what’s going on around you and helping out in creative ways.
For full time workers, one of the greatest advantages of having interns around the office is being able to interact with promising, vibrant students and other young individuals. So don’t be shy and indulge your coworkers a little. You’ll learn a lot about the company and the industry by doing so, and these interactions will shed light on the more personal aspects of the job – how easy it is to manage work with a family, what sort of people you can expect to encounter, etc. More than this, the people you meet will be the individuals who will vouch for you later on.
Because an internship generally requires you to show up on a regular basis, it can be easy to take for granted the opportunity you have…and to forget to thank those who helped you along the way. So make sure to say “thanks” every once in awhile, and definitely send thank you notes to the individuals who really had an impact on your experience when your internship is up.
Stay in Touch
Just because your internship ends doesn’t mean the relationships you established along the way have to end too. Make sure to email people you met along the way from time to time – to ask questions about jobs, to check in and see how they are doing, to share an exciting experience in school, etc. It’s far better to keep in touch with people in a friendly manner than to merely contact them out of the blue when you need something.
While it may seem sometimes that you have the raw end of the deal in an internship that doesn’t pay you very well – if at all – and demands a lot of your time, it really is a unique and valuable experience that you can benefit from in more ways than one. Hard work, gratitude, and friendliness can take you far.
Until next time,
The Doostang Team