How to be the intern everybody wants to hire
It’s pretty simple: Ace the audition, land the job. Here’s how.
Aiming to turn your summer internship into a full-time job? Good news: your employer wants that, too!
The primary focus of most companies’ internship programs is to convert college students into entry-level employees, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2016 Internship & Co-op Survey. But if you intern for a medium or large company, you’ll likely be working alongside a group of interns who are also gunning for a job offer.
And unfortunately, there may be a limited number of full-time jobs available at the company. So to land one of them, you’ll need to bring your A-game. Take these steps to become the all-star intern.
Highlight your accomplishments
As “the intern” you might be inclined to keep your head down, get your work done and cross your fingers in hopes that your supervisor will recognize your great work.
Don’t just assume this will happen automatically.
“Be loud and proud about your accomplishments,” says Lauren Berger, CEO of InternQueen.com. Read: the onus is on you to get on your manager’s radar.
We’re not saying grab a megaphone and tout your achievements from the roof of the building. Instead, send your boss an email on Fridays recapping your accomplishments for the week and any challenges you faced. “The goal is to promote yourself while maintaining a sense of humility,” says Berger.
Make valuable connections
If the word “networking” makes you cringe, we hear you on that. But here’s the thing: Job candidates with an employee referral are 40% more likely to be hired, research shows. To find that coveted career advocate, arrange one lunch or coffee date per week with a different employee, millennial career coach Kim Carbia recommends.
When possible, meet with two people at the same time. “Group lunches are less intimidating for employees,” says Carbia. “It takes some of the pressure off and makes people more inclined to accept an invitation.”
Also, make sure that you prepare questions in advance. Know what each employee does so that you can tailor your talking points, says Carbia.
Focus on results (not logging extra hours)
We’ve got great news: Unless it’s the company norm, these days, you don’t need to stay late to impress your boss.
“Just because you put in extra hours doesn’t mean you’re performing well on your work,” says Sharise Kent, author of The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams. Kent says productivity is most important to managers, so demonstrate that you have time-management skills by handing in projects ahead of deadline rather than at the last minute.
Instead of sneaking looks at your phone to check your recent Snapchat stories if you finish your assignments early, ask your boss for new projects to take on.
“Find out if there’s an ongoing project that your supervisor would like you to work on,” suggests Kent. During slow periods, you could also ask your boss for permission to assist other departments, which gives you exposure to other areas of the organization.
Speak up during meetings
Put simply: Don’t be a fly on the wall. “You’ll stand out if you can make valuable contributions to the conversation,” says Carbia. You don’t need to offer groundbreaking insights—just bring creative ideas. To ask thoughtful questions, research the meeting’s topic ahead of time so that you can adequately prepare.
Moreover, “you offer a unique perspective as a college student,” says Carbia. “A lot of companies are targeting a young customer base, and you already know how those consumers think and behave.”
Show you’re plugged in to the industry
Part of being an A-grade intern is keeping up with what’s going on in the industry. This entails reading the company’s newsletters, press releases and trade journals. Then, to show that you’re tapped in, “ask your manager how specific trends are affecting the company,” says Kent.
To improve your performance, you’ll need feedback from your boss. “Asking for constructive criticism lets your manager know that you’re serious about learning and shows that you’re teachable,” says Kent. But since many managers are reluctant to offer their input, it might be your responsibility to ask for it. Caveat: “Your manager probably doesn’t have time to give you daily feedback,” says Kent, but your supervisor will probably be open to meeting once every one to two weeks to discuss your work.
During these meetings, ask for specific feedback. For example, “How could I have improved my presentation from last week?”
Ask for a job
It sounds obvious, but a lot of interns don’t inform their manager that they’re interested in a full-time position at the company. Make your intentions known—and don’t want until the last day of the program. “You should plant the seed that you want a job about a month before the end of your internship,” says Carbia.
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