Your internship is viewed by would-be employers as a microcosm of your career going forward. Often, work performed as an intern is a strong indication of how you will perform once you’re hired as a full-time employee.
Of course, many interns will be vying for those open positions, making it very difficult for employers to make the right decision – which, from your perspective, is hiring you! So you need to help them help you ;-).
You must help them see the out-of-the-ordinary “internship wins” that affirm the interviewer’s choice of you; that they are making the right decision.
Sure, your university grades, the amount of knowledge you amassed, and where you interned will have an impact on your future employer’s decision. The key win factor, however, will always be your achievements during the internship.
So, how will you stand out in a sea of similar interns across all those firms, start-ups and corporations? Here are a few important tips:
Self-Manage Whenever Possible
Your employer is open to both innovation and improvements in their business. So, it’s going to be easy to convince them to do something new and exciting, right? Wrong!
Probably because of their previous experience with interns, most leaders are in the habit of thinking they know better than you. This mindset can make them rather limited/short-sighted about proposals coming from someone with your limited experience.
They are, of course, wrong in this approach; good ideas come from everywhere. Being wrong, however, doesn’t make it any less frustrating or challenging – which is why you’ll show them what you’re talking about first-hand.
Take initiative and show progress on new and innovative methods and projects. Track achievements, milestones and solutions. This way, when that full-time job interview time rolls around, you’ll be able to talk about the new initiatives and their impact on the company.
Research, Research, Research!
Research is analyzing and processing information; research is gaining new skills; research is finding the right “mentor”. Research is also learning how to add value to your team and absorbing everything around you so you’ll be able to process and deliver bigger and better results.
First and foremost, though, research is about your professional development; trying new things and overcoming your fear of failure. At some point during your internship, you’ll probably fail – perhaps badly and publicly. That failure will feel bad, no doubt; but you have to keep things in perspective, learn and keep trying.
When interview time rolls around, you’ll stand out by talking about a specific failure, and how you were able to grow from it. Your interviewer will welcome hearing that you spent time during your internship developing professionally; developing in-demand soft skills, identifying productive work habits – and researching.
Always Be Available
Have you mastered the art of looking busy? If you did, that false-hustle may come back to bite you in the behind.
You see, your boss is already worried about you not getting your base work done and achieving your goals. If they see this false-hustle – if they think you are already too busy to take on additional work – they may not offer you new and exciting work and responsibility; you’ll never get that memo about the new and innovating project.
Remember that you can always turn down a project if you can’t handle the load. Better to do a few projects right than failing at base duties. However, if you really want to hit the ground running once you’re out of your internship… always be available for new projects.
If you are already interning, you are just a step away from landing that dream job. As you perform your internship, keep in mind the interview for the full-time position that will follow. Be sure you can recall and recount “internship wins” to differentiate yourself as “the little intern who could” (and did!)!
About the Author: Haim Pekel is IQTELL’s Marketing Director. IQTELL is a cloud-based GTD app that helps you to increase your productivity and manage your personal information (PIM) on one app. Haim also writes on IQTELL’s Productivity Blog. IQTELL is currently in private beta; contact him on Google+!