The Spring semester is right around the corner, and many of you are getting ready to start an internship. If you’ve already landed an internship, the toughest part is over – you’ve already impressed a company enough to have them want you on their team. Now it’s just a matter of making them love you enough that they can’t imagine their team without you. Here are a few tips for turning your internship into a permanent job.
Make a great impression early on. Let’s start with the basics: get to work on time, don’t slack off, and dress and act professionally. These won’t necessarily help you stand out, but it’s a really good start, and the impression you make with the simple things can make or break you in an internship. Now, let’s go over some things that can help you stand out from the rest…
Set goals when you start, and summarize your accomplishments at the end. One of the first things I used to do with my internship boss when I started each summer was go over what he wanted me to do over those three months. I had a handful of projects to finish, so having the written goals made it easy for me to keep on track. Every time I completed a project, I would update the document and include how I accomplished it. By the end of the internship, I had a completed project list to show my boss and update my resume with.
Do your best work, and then some. Obviously, the whole point of an internship is to get a peek into the field you’re thinking about working in and getting projects that will help you learn, not just busy work. One would hope that you have the opportunity to prove you’re really talented and smart. At the same time, there may be times when you get stuck doing some grunt work. You may have to make copies, set up for meetings, take notes for your boss or do some data entry. No matter what the task, do your absolute best. What do I mean by this? Let’s say your boss asks you to take notes during a meeting… make sure your notes are thorough and include next steps/action items, then type and email them to your boss within 24 hours (without them having to ask you). Maybe your boss asked you to book and set-up a conference room for an important meeting…don’t just book a room and turn on the lights 5 minutes before it starts – that’s doing the bare minimum. Instead, once you have a room, ask your boss if they prefer a certain layout for tables/chairs, test the audio/visual equipment a day in advance so there are no surprises during your boss’ big meeting, check on the room temperature 1 hour before the meeting starts, make sure the room looks neat, and be there to greet people as they arrive. See the difference? If you need insights/resources in order to do your best work, feel free to approach your boss and ask questions.
Network with company leaders… and co-workers. During your internship you may have exposure to executives that you want to get to know, but let’s talk about the people you will be around every single day – your boss and co-workers. Be sure to say “Good Morning” when you get to work and don’t be afraid to engage in some small talk. Yes, there are actually people who walk straight to their desk, ignoring everyone who crosses their path… don’t be that “that intern”. Remember to use your networking skills to build relationships with co-workers because they are excellent people to add to your professional network. They will also be able to vouch for you much more easily than the CEO of the company, because they work with you every day.
If you want to work there, let them know. As your internship progresses, you will get a pretty good idea if this is the right fit, both for you and the company. If you realize that this is the place you want to be, feel free to say it at an appropriate time. If you have a wrap-up meeting with your boss at the end of the internship, that would be the perfect time to express your interest. They may not be able to make you an offer on the spot, but at least they will know you had a great experience and want to come back.
Stay in touch. Writing a short “thank you” note to your boss, co-workers and others is a nice touch. You can also check-in periodically by email/LinkedIn or schedule to meet up for coffee with your boss to catch up, so they are reminded of you throughout the year.
SAVE THE DATE: If you don’t already have an internship lined up, make sure to attend the Spring Internship/Co-Op Fair on Wednesday, February 11th!
Sara Garcia – Career Coach