April Ludgate is hilariously apathetic about everything that goes on in the Parks and Recreations department. Somehow, she manages to do no wrong in the eyes of eternal optimist Leslie Knope. Still, if you want to turn your internship into a full-time job, you should aim to be the antithesis of April. As someone who has had successful internships at a range of companies, I’ve learned a few pearls of wisdom that will permeate through all internship opportunities. Whether you’re hoping to move from internship to full-time staff at that same company, or you’re hoping this internship can be a leverage point into a career you love, a few key tenets will help you to make the most out of your experience while impacting the company in a positive way. Here’s my no-fail advice for interns:[bctt tweet="How to Turn Your #Internship into a Full-Time Job, by @dailykaileigh #careeradvice"]
How to turn your internship into a job:
Be a Sponge—
The first goal is to make sure you have an internship that requires a lot of work—one that will challenge you. On your end, the purpose of an internship is to learn as much as you can, and you won’t learn anything useful if you spend your days scrolling Buzzfeed or perusing the company kitchen.
When you walk into your internship, think of yourself as a dry sponge, eager to soak up every last drop of information your coworkers provide. Not only will you learn and grow exponentially, your coworkers will appreciate your enthusiasm. Make sure you build relationships and offer help to people outside of your department. This is important because it will allow you to build new skills and understand the workings of the company better. By understanding how the different aspects of a business fit together, you’ll be able to perform in your own role more effectively and position yourself as an integral member of the team. You'll gain experience to spice up your resume while also challenging yourself to go beyond your comfort zone. [bctt tweet="Clarity on how the biz works will make you integral to the team, says @dailykaileigh"]
Connect with Your Coworkers—
One of the very first things I do after I meet new coworkers is immediately connect with them on LinkedIn while names and titles are still fresh in my mind. This helps them remember me and shows that I was engaged during our conversation. When you connect, include a personalized message in which you reference your conversation and offer to be of help to them.
Keep in mind that you should not connect with people to boost your LinkedIn connection count. As you meet coworkers, remember to position yourself as a “yes” person and as someone who can bring value to your new connections.[bctt tweet="Position yourself as a “yes” person + someone who can bring value—@dailykaileigh #networking"]
For example: You are talking to Kaitlyn, a product specialist at your company. Ask her about what her role involves and what she enjoys about it. Listen to what she says; this isn’t “small talk.” If this role is something you’re interested in learning more about, offer your assistance. Even if your only knowledge of a product specialist’s duties are from this conversation, tell Kaitlyn that you would love to learn more and would love to help her out if she ever needs an extra pair of hands.
Remember that everyone you meet is an opportunity, not just for yourself, but for the other person as well. You should treat these relationships as such. See this article on the habits of successful networkers for more advice on building meaningful professional connections.[bctt tweet="New connections are opportunities + you can be an oppty for every1 you meet—@dailykaileigh #networking"]
Know When to Ask Questions—
Yes. Every article offering internship advice has this as a major take-away, and for good reason. For you, the overarching goal of your internship is to learn. However, the company has another goal. Be sure you know what that goal is. During the initial interview, I like to ask some variation of, “What defines a successful intern in this role?” Keep this answer in the forefront of your mind if you want to get that job offer after your internship.
Of course, it is possible to ask too many questions. Be sure that you’re doing all you can to answer the problem yourself before turning to a coworker or supervisor. Start by asking as many questions as you can when the task is first assigned and take good notes about what is expected of you. Then, when you find yourself struggling, use the following checklist before asking for help:[bctt tweet="Checklist for #interns to determine when it's the right time to ask a question, by @dailykaileigh"]
- Reviewed the notes you took when your project was explained to you
- Try figuring it out on your own
- Ask Google
- Check the company's wiki or shared files for examples
- Try to work through it for 15 minutes, then reevaluate
- Have you decided to ask the question? Stop
- Work on it for 5 more minutes before you ask the question
- Consider how long it would take for your co-worker to explain, and use your best judgement to balance it against your own time and deadlines/ your ability to be successful without asking. Be courteous of their time first.
If you have done all of the above and still need help, ask for help. It’s much better to admit that you don’t understand how to do something than to pretend like you know what’s going on. Being transparent and honest with your team members is crucial.
Another healthy habit to get into is asking for feedback. It may sound harsh, especially if you aren’t used to hearing constructive criticism, but it’s alway important to make sure you are living up to previously established expectations and learning how to improve.
[bctt tweet="Don't get it? Ask. Being transparent + honest w/ your team members is crucial, says @dailykaileigh"]
Establish Yourself on the Team—
This is a big one, and potentially the most important, so let’s break it down a bit.
You want to be known as a reliable and essential part of the team. You want to make sure that the work you do is so phenomenal that your team and supervisor can’t imagine the office without you. Now, that may seem like a big assumption, but there are ways to genuinely achieve those labels:
- Showcase your organization and time management by always being prepared and early to work and other meetings
- Understand your deliverables and deadlines
- Be flexible. Once you show your team members that you are able to gracefully handle your responsibilities as well as offering to help others, they’ll start to go to you for more help in the future
- Continue to offer new ideas, but keep in mind “Quality over Quantity”
[bctt tweet="#Interns- Make a great impression by offering new ideas, w/ quality over quantity—@dailykaileigh"]
Keep Your Ego in Check—
It may seem insulting when you are first asked to go on those seemingly menial errands. You may feel as though you are above the work you are being assigned. Remember: once you get through those tasks, finish them well and in a timely manner, then you’ve proven that you can handle more. Also remember that none of the tasks you are assigned are simple busy work—in the office everything needs to get done.
Overall, make sure you don’t expect immediate results. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is your reliable reputation in the office.
Your exact situation will differ from your neighboring intern. However, at the midpoint of your internship, you should have a good sense of your trajectory. This would be a good time to talk to your supervisor about creating a plan to move towards a full-time job or extending your internship.
Don’t feel discouraged if your internship doesn’t immediately evolve into a job. Understand that hiring happens on their timeline, not yours. Keep in mind that budgeting doesn’t always allow for unexpected hiring. Be sure to stay in touch with the people you’ve met. If there was a supervisor or mentor you really connected with, ask them if they could write a letter of recommendation after your internship ends. Chances are, if you followed the above advice, they’ll happily say "yes."[bctt tweet="Understand that #hiring happens on their timeline, not yours, says @dailykaileigh"]
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