Summer is coming and so are summer internships. If yours is about to start, congratulations! You’re already one step closer to securing a full-time job after graduation. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, in 2019, more than 56% of intern positions were converted into full-time, entry-level positions with the company in which they interned—a 10% increase over 2018. Not only are summer interns often hired by the companies where they work, but their retention rates are much higher than the retention rates for entry-level full-time employees who didn’t have internships. These days, many companies use their internship programs as extensive screening mechanisms to scout and vet new talent. The time to start leveraging your summer internship into a job offer is day one. The following tips can help you make the most of your summer opportunity.
Communicate with your direct manager
It’s best to set up regular check-ins so you’re not pestering your manager for feedback at times when they’re engaged with large projects or focusing on meeting deadlines. If your manager is too busy to meet at least weekly, make a habit of sending end-of-week updates on what you’re working on and what tasks you’ve completed. The quickest way to land a full-time job offer is to make your manager look good. Even if they can’t hire you at the end of the summer, they may be able to point you in the direction of other job leads and provide you with a glowing recommendation.
Pick up on the office culture
How do people interact? How do they dress? Do they speak in hushed formal tones, or do they tell jokes and talk about topics unrelated to work? Do they come early, late, or exactly on time for meetings? Take note of everything and act accordingly. Even if the office you’re working in is casual, avoid flip-flops and other extremely casual summer wear. You should look like you’re showing up for work, not heading to the beach or pool.
Meet as many people as possible
Don’t just make friends with other interns. The most experienced members of the team are the ones you’re most likely to learn from and the ones with the power to hire you. Reach out and invite coworkers to coffee. Ask about their role in the organization and how it relates to your current work, about their backgrounds, how they navigated their way to their present position, and about the company and where it’s headed. Be direct—ask how you should go about securing a full-time position. You’ll get good advice as you advertise your interest in the company directly.
Establish a mentor
Find someone who can guide you, and, if you perform well, speak on your behalf and note your talents to other members of the team. Additionally, you might talk with this person about your long-term goals and how to build a career within the sector or field your company occupies. Luckily, most of the time when students take on an internship, they're assigned to a supervisor or someone else who's specific job it is to manage interns—so they're usually a good person to build a rapport with.
Utilize your “free time”
Internships are notorious for downtime Use that time to let people know you’ve completed your work and are eager to begin a new task. You might even ask about long-term backburner projects that need to get done and offer to do them. If you’re in the process of learning how to build a résumé, spend some time learning how to incorporate the internship.
Keep up your energy and enthusiasm
Let the people you work with know how excited you are to be there, what you’ve learned so far, and what you hope to learn. Make sure to show gratitude for the opportunity. Make it clear that you understand how busy people are and appreciate any time they set aside to help train and guide you. You can do great work at your internship, but if you aren't also connecting, communicating, and being a part of the community within the job, great work doesn't mean as much.
Take your work seriously
You might not be doing the most glamorous or vital part of a project, but your manager is counting on you to do it carefully, correctly, and in a timely manner. Sloppy work requires time to correct and won’t make a good impression. Remember that all work is essential. Sneering at what may seem like “grunt” work can be insulting to the person who typically completes that task and won’t convey the message that you’re a team player. How you do on these beginning tasks will tell your manager how much responsibility it’s safe to assign to you. If you’re working hard and your work is up to snuff, then with each step you’ll likely take on slightly more responsibility. This will show those in charge whether you’ll take the work seriously if you’re hired full time. An internship is a learning experience, but it’s also a job. Your coworkers will assign you real work tasks with deadlines that add value to the company, but only if they’re completed with skill and attention to detail. You’re part of a team now, so make sure you show that you can be counted on.
Turning your internship into a job is possible—and does happen often—but you must put in the work. You have to prove to your potential employer that you’re not just there for a grade or to get the experience and move on. You have to show them that you want to be a valuable asset to the team even is just the short time you have and the possibilities of what you could bring to the table if you were hired full-time. Use this advice to have a great internship that could seamlessly turn into a career—or at least a great first job to get you on the right path.
Looking for more ways to rock your summer internship? Check out our Internships and Careers section!