And while these are all great tips, if you’re working for a start-up, the stakes are arguably a bit higher. So, it’s important to elevate your game accordingly. As an example, Josh, one of the interns at my company, was promoted to a full-time position after two short months with us.
Here are some lessons to be learned from what made him stand out and put him on the fast track to a permanent gig….
He Improved Our Processes
It’s one thing to do everything you’re asked without hesitation. It’s quite another to dive in, find more efficient ways to execute, and present that information to your manager with supporting evidence.
Too often, young talent gets too myopically focused on the day-to-day of their role. This prevents them from seeing weaknesses in a process, or information gaps that might make tasks more challenging than they should be. As an intern, you can bring a fresh perspective and add value to your team by suggesting improvements, or asking questions that might stimulate an important discussion or change.
He Demonstrated Interest Outside His Scope
At a start-up, it’s important to be nimble; many times, that means wearing a lot of different hats. By setting up meetings to learn from our web analytics guy, as well as meeting with other key stakeholders, Josh demonstrated a willingness to learn and grow. This is a crucial characteristic for success in this type of environment.
By the time we began to consider Josh for a full-time position, he had established relationships with many members of our team and beyond. All of these contacts could vouch for his eagerness, talent and work ethic — and ensured a smooth transition into his new role.
He Cared About the Analytics Behind His Work
Start-ups are driven by data: numbers, leads, conversions, traffic and more. Each has a direct impact on the bottom line. Josh was a numbers fiend who always wanted to see tangible results from his work. This instilled in him a greater sense of purpose, and cemented his investment in the company and its mission. Josh asked questions about how data were being measured and why, and was laser-focused on meeting — and exceeding — his monthly goals.
Even if you’re not necessarily a “numbers person,” it’s important to realize quantifiable data is valuable. The ability to discuss basic metrics intelligently will help you stand out among your peers.
His Personality Aligned with the Company Culture
Culture is an important part of any company. In the start-up world, you tend to work with a smaller group of people who spend long hours together. So when you hire someone who isn’t a good fit, the mismatch has a big impact.
Not only do you want the new hire to have a strong work ethic, but you also seek to hire someone with whom you’d want to socialize. Josh embraced our sarcastic, work-hard-play-hard culture and quickly forged friendships with his co-workers.
We became invested in Josh as a person. As a result, we were his biggest advocates when conversations began about who would fill the open position on our team.
In a start-up environment, both employees and interns alike need to be scrappy and willing to adapt to a variety of situations. If you hope to secure a job offer at the end of your internship, it’s important to speak up, step outside the scope of your duties, be numbers- and solutions-driven… and also let the real you shine through in the office. Doing so will elevate you above others in your peer group, and help you pave a path in the vibrant, fast-paced start-up world.
About the Author: Erica Moss is the community manager for Georgetown University’s online nursing masters programs, offering one of the nation’s leading nurse midwife programs. She enjoys blogging, TV, pop culture and tweeting.