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How to Turn Your Internship Into a Full-Time Job

Wed, Feb 22, 2012

Internship Information

These days, performing well at an internship can make the difference between securing a job that will keep you afloat until the economy rebounds and ducking student loan collectors. So you should not only make every effort to get an internship; you should also treat it like the very real job opportunity it could represent. As a student, you may not have a lot of time to devote to internships. Between showing up for class, studying your butt off, and possibly even working part-time, as well, you’re probably already burning the candle at both ends. But a little suffering now could make a world of difference once you graduate. And keep in mind that only students are eligible for internships, so once you leave the ivory tower you’re facing the cold, cruel job market on your own. That said, here are just a few ways that you can ensure any internship you tackle will turn into a job offer down the road.

  1. Treat it like a job. The worst thing you could possibly do is get it into your head that an internship is not a real job. Just because you aren’t getting paid doesn’t mean you aren’t expected to work alongside every other employee. And if you are planning to put it on your résumé as work experience then you’d better treat it like work. So show up on time, do what you’re told, and make sure you do it right.
  2. Listen and learn. This may be the only time in your professional life when everyone around you will cut you slack, explain things more than once, and offer you guidance and advice without expecting anything in return. So don’t be afraid to go over things until you’re sure you’ve got them. Even if you don’t get a job offer at the end, you will have learned a lot that can help you in future positions. But sometimes just taking it all in and then proving that you paid attention (by completing tasks properly or heeding advice) is enough to impress the higher-ups.
  3. Behave professionally. You’re not in a college class, hanging with friends, or even working in a Starbucks. An internship puts you into a decidedly professional environment so you need to adjust your behavior accordingly. That means being polite, doing your work without complaint, adopting a can-do attitude, and avoiding gossip and personal fraternization at all costs!
  4. Ask for what you want. It sounds simple, but sometimes the direct approach is best. If what you’re looking for is a job offer, let your potential employers know and ask what you can do to ensure that outcome. They will probably be happy to tell you what they expect and give you the opportunity to grab the brass ring.
  5. Make yourself indispensable. If anything needs to be done, don’t hesitate to offer your services or simply take care of it. Is a faucet leaking? Call local plumbers for quotes and price out replacement fixtures online. Then make up a spreadsheet to present to your supervisor. Is the company vehicle on its last legs? Research cars and trucks for sale and call dealerships to ask about business discounts. And if you see that an employee is beyond stressed, ask how you can help, even if it means making a coffee and donut run or filing paperwork. Whatever you can do to impress the staff and management team will go a long way towards helping you make your case for full-time employment when your internship ends.
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