9 moves that could take you from intern to new hire
There’s still time to end your internship with a bang—and leave with a job lined up.
Tick, tock. The internship clock is winding down. With a few weeks left to market yourself as a potential new hire, leaving a lasting impression should move its way to the top of your to-do list.
“You need to finish strong if you want a job offer,” says Alyson Kavalukas, internship coordinator at University of Pittsburgh's Office of Career Development & Placement Assistance.
Handle this crunch time right and you could fall under the 73% of interns who convert to full-time hires—the highest it’s been since before the recession, according to The National Association of Colleges and Employers. We’ve got a comprehensive checklist that lists what you need to do to distinguish yourself as the next new hire.
Get feedback from your boss
You can’t grow if you don’t know, so ask your boss for a review. If your company doesn’t have a formal evaluation process, it’s your responsibility to get constructive criticism from your manager. You want to get a combination of specific and big-picture feedback, says Stephanie Waite, senior associate director of Yale’s Office of Career Strategy. Ask your boss how well you performed on specific projects or assignments, says Waite, and get input on your overall performance.
Learn about the hiring process
It’s not enough to just express interest in getting hired—you need to get a sense of how the company hires employees on board, says Waite. Is there a particular time of year that the organization searches for talent, or does it recruit only on an as-needed basis? Is it kosher to contact hiring managers directly, or do you need to apply to job postings online first? How many interview stages are there? Running these questions by your supervisor shows that you’re serious about working for the company.
Touch base with HR
If you’re interning at a large company, your boss may not be aware of every single job opening in other departments. So you’ll want to meet with someone in HR to find out what entry-level job opportunities are available.
“There may be job openings that aren’t listed on the company’s website,” says Sharise Kent, author of The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams.
Bond with your peers
Hopefully, you’ve already built relationships with your fellow interns, but if you haven’t done so yet, get cracking. They can be valuable assets to you in the future, says millennial career coach Kim Carbia. “They’re not just your competition,” says Carbia. Befriending these people—and staying in touch—will pay off if you need a referral in the future.
Dust off your resume
Now is the time to update your resume—when the internship experience is fresh in your mind. It’s also beneficial to get feedback from your boss on your resume before you leave—and provide a copy that he can keep on file. “Managers like to see how you reflected on the internship on your resume,” Kent adds.
Ask your boss for a job…
It sounds like an obvious step, but many college students are too timid to do it, says Carbia. Express enthusiasm about working for the company full time. (“I loved my experience here and can see myself joining your organization.”) No current job openings? Try to leave with freelance or part-time work.
“Many companies hire interns as contractors for three to six months and then bring them on full time,” says Carbia.
…or a reference
If your boss is happy with your performance, ask if he or she will be a reference for you in the future. You might request a written letter of recommendation that you can add to your job application toolkit. Getting a short, three-to-four sentence recommendation on LinkedIn can also go a long way, says Waite.
Moreover, your manager may be able to tap their professional network to help you find a job, but you need to ask. (Try, “I understand there are no job opportunities here, but do you have anyone in your sphere that you can introduce me to?”)
“If your manager is confident in your skills, he or she is going to lend you a hand,” says Carbia.
Tie up loose ends
Find out what the transition process is for any unfinished projects, says Waite. If you’re working on an assignment that’s going to be passed on to someone else, ask your manager what you should accomplish before you leave. Also, consider giving your boss a progress report so that she knows what work you’ve completed and what’s unfinished.
Write meaningful thank-you notes
Express gratitude to the people who shaped your internship experience. (Read: don’t only thank your supervisor.) If you were assigned a mentor—or an employee mentored you informally—write the person a handwritten thank-you letter. (Ditto if a campus recruiter helped you get the internship, says Kavalukas.) Make sure you write personalized notes; generic thank-you letters don’t solidify relationships.