Your internship is a great way to gain experience, develop skills and greatly improve your chances of getting catching a recruiter’s attention. Even better, many internships lead to a job offer; I had three internships during my college career, and the last one turned into my first full-time job!
This is how I went from intern to employee – see if these tips work for you, too…
Make Your Interest Known!
You can do this as early as your interview. It’s actually better, I’ve found, to lay out your intentions early on. Rather than assume that if you work hard during your internship, the company will, of course, want to hire you – let the interviewer know up front that you’re interested in launching your career here.
If they are open to potentially hiring you full-time, they’ll be glad to hear you’re so eager. If they instead sound uncertain or unclear, express your gratitude for the internship opportunity and rack up accomplishments to show off elsewhere (see below).
Stay On Top of the Industry
Read up on what’s going on in both your profession (e.g. SEO, HR, software development, etc.) and your company’s industry. LinkedIn Today offers great reading material. – and allows you to customize news and popular articles based on your field.
Most importantly, set up Google alerts for your company as well as their direct competitors for updates on what’s being said about each. You never know when you’ll have an opportunity to show off your knowledge and “wow” your boss (and others).
Ask Well-Crafted Questions
While most managers will be patient with newbie intern questions, it’s much more impressive to make an educated guess before asking. Make your best attempt and then ask questions or for advice, rather than a general: “So, wait. How should I start?”
At some point you will probably be assigned tasks and your boss will ask: “Think you can handle it?” Don’t try to be a hero and say “Of course — I can handle anything you throw at me!” Instead, be humble and realistic about what you can do. Then, work efficiently to produce more than you promised.
Rack Up Solid Accomplishments
Create an Excel sheet and label it “Accomplishments.” Keep track of milestones you achieve and every awesome project to which you lent a significant hand. This will come in handy during your performance review, as well as when you update your resume. Quantified statements get you hired!
Finished is Better than Perfect
Don’t obsess about perfecting your projects. Striving for perfection in each little task can be a real time waster. Instead, think big-picture. You’re expected to do your best to get your work done well – and minor mistakes are often forgiven, especially when compared to not finishing assignments.
Never Leave Your Hands Idle
If you‘ve completed your assignments, don’t text, check Facebook, Twitter or the new MySpace. Instead, shoot your boss an email and let them know that your plate is empty and you’re available for more assignments. Although this may be intimidating at first — just do it. Showing initiative will reflect positively on you as a potential future employee.
Soak It Up
Soak up your surroundings. If another department seems appealing, during down-time or perhaps in the coffee line, talk to them about what they do – ask about “a day in their lives.” Don’t worry about asking basic questions. They realize that this is a learning experience for you. They’ll likely be impressed by your curiosity and desire to learn the company’s “big picture”.
Use Words Like “We” and “Our”
Act as if you belong — as if you are already full-time and are fully part of the team. Your boss and colleagues will love your passion – and the interest in your role on the team
Always Be Positive
As the intern, you should add a young, fresh perspective to the team. Instead of naysaying ideas or feeling intimidated by projects, focus on the positives. If you’re really struggling, ask for help… jusy remain positive and show an eagerness to learn.
Ask for Feedback
Feedback is key — it’s what steers your internship. If your boss doesn’t give much feedback spontaneously, then it’s cool to ask how you’re doing midway through your internship. Additionally, remember to mention that you welcome feedback after completing significant projects.
Set Up an End-of-Internship Meeting
Toward the end date of your internship, gather your list of accomplishments – and think about future goals and what you can do for the company. Then, ask for a meeting to discuss your performance. Even if there is already a formal performance review process, your mentor will be impressed with your initiative.
Express your gratitude for the opportunity, highlight your accomplishments and make it clear you would love to continue your work! Throughout the entire discussion, be solution-oriented; actively discuss any ideas you have to further help the company’s bottom-line.
By employing these tips in your internship strategy, you’re greatly improving your chances of turning you’re internship into a job offer!
About the Author: Ritika Trikha is a writer for CareerBliss, an online career community dedicated to helping people find happiness in the workplace. When Ritika’s not writing, she’s obsessing over social media (and listening to Jay Z!). Follow Ritika on Twitter!