If you’ve managed to land an internship in a field that interests you—and if that internship introduces you to a strongly appealing corporate culture—you’re likely hopeful the experience will lead to a full-time position.
Approaching the opportunity like an extended interview will help get you in the proper mindset. Given an internship is easier to get than a job, it makes sense to directly leverage your time as an intern and the relationships you foster during it.
The following tips should help steer you in the right direction.
Work hard, act professionally, become invaluable.
Those admonitions are deceptively tough to follow, and in practice separate the outstanding intern from the merely capable one. Keep in mind at all times the promise of your internship—it could fundamentally shape your career—and use that wide-lens view to focus your efforts.
Dress and behave on a professional level. Even if workers around you gripe, don’t complain about the tasks at hand. Steer clear of office politics and gossip, and use social media only if the job requires it. Don’t call in sick unless it’s totally legitimate.
As you finish your internship, wrap up the projects assigned to you. For those tasks you won’t be able to complete before you leave, touch base with the colleague who’ll take them over, and brief your supervisor on your progress and the work that remains to be done.
Network and build relationships.
Introduce yourself around the workplace. Schedule regular meetings with mentors and supervisors, keeping them fully apprised of your work. If there’s a problem, present it—along with a possible solution.
An important component of any internship is asking questions. Take advantage of your position: It’s understood you’re here partly to learn the ropes of a particular industry, so pick the brains of your co-workers and superiors. They’ll be impressed with your forthright desire to learn. If you finish one task and don’t have another yet assigned, take the initiative and request more work.
Express gratitude and follow up.
Write a note to your supervisors and your colleagues thanking them for the internship experience and all of their assistance. Send follow-up emails, and ask straight-out for a full-time job by demonstrating your hard-earned inside knowledge and suggesting where your unique strengths could benefit the organization.
Doing well on that “extended interview” that is an internship can pay off hugely—sometimes directly with a job. Keep your eyes on the prize!