How to Turn Your Internship Into a Career | 11 Tips for Owning Your On-The-Job Training
by Haley Lyles
Landing an internship before graduation is one of the most beneficial opportunities a student can have during college. According to a recent survey, over 53 percent of 2019 graduating seniors who applied for a full-time job received at least one offer.
Out of those graduates, over 57 percent had an internship and 43 percent did not. Internship opportunities can be hard to come by and often do not pay well. However, if you can find one, worst-case scenario, you have an internship on your resume and best case scenario it leads to a full-time job.
If you want to turn an internship into a career, use these tips to impress an employer and land a full-time offer.
1. Prioritize Responsibilities
One of the best habits an intern can develop during an internship is completing responsibilities on-time. Learn to start every day with a quick priority checklist to ensure that you stay on top of deadlines. Turning in projects in a timely and professional manner demonstrates the ability to be a hard-working and reliable full-time employee.
2. Build Relationships
Once hiring time comes, some of the greatest advocates will be your coworkers. Aim to develop relationships with people in every area, not just your department. Connections to employees from every part of the company will prove that you respect the people that work there and are interested in being an active member of the team.
3. Extend a Helping Hand
The office is a shared space, which means from time-to-time, everyone needs to pitch in to keep it clean. During moments of downtime, clean the kitchen or take out the trash. These simple acts let coworkers know that you are a team player who is willing to help out — even with unglamorous tasks.
4. Approach Tasks With Intention
As an intern, you'll likely be tasked with the occasional tedious task. Build trust with your employer by approaching these tasks with humility and diligence. These jobs are also good opportunities to learn how large-scale company processes work and how seemingly small tasks fit into the overall workflow.
5. Work Independently
Internships are great opportunities to go above and beyond. Whether you're in a professional or creative internship environment, look for ways to create solutions for streamlining communication and organization. This demonstrates to the supervisor that you're capable of working independently and are solution-minded.
6. Find a Mentor for the Future
Mentors are important for professionals in every industry and position. Use your internship to discover what you would like in a mentor. Instead of asking a supervisor or a peer, look for someone who works in the department you want to eventually be in. For example, if you're a marketing intern who wants to be in management, find the person who has the job you want and ask them to connect over coffee.
7. Talk About Mistakes
One of the biggest errors that interns make is hiding their mistakes. This can disrupt the company workflow and result in losing the trust of a supervisor. As an intern, you are allowed to mess up, but be honest when it happens. If you make an error, go to a supervisor and let them know what happened. Explain how you learned from the mistake and present an actionable plan for avoiding it in the future.
8. Be Honest During Reviews
As a new employee, you have fresh eyes. When asked for input, provide honest and clear feedback about processes that could use improvement. Make sure to present any suggestions constructively, rather than complaining about them. Thoughtful upward feedback shows your employer that you're taking the job seriously and that you want to see the company improve.
9. Offer Solutions
If you see an area where the company can improve, think of clear and achievable solutions for the issue. For example, if the internship training module was disorganized, instead of complaining about the structure, present some key areas where they could be more clear. This act shows concern for the company and gives you a tangible example of something you achieved during the internship.
10. Send Thank You Emails
As the internship nears the end, send out an email or give a short speech to express your gratitude to everyone you worked with. Mention how they helped you grow and what you learned from working with them. Even if they don't offer a full-time job, developing a network can lead to future opportunities.
11. Present Accomplishments
If your company conducts a post-internship review, compile a portfolio of your achievements and takeaways from the internship and present it. Let them know that you are interested in working with them and that you'd be honored to be considered. To further demonstrate your value, brainstorm ways that the company can improve and include them in your future plan. For example, instead of just suggesting ways to improve internship training, you could pitch some ideas for developing training for interns and new hires.
Whether you're gearing up for your first internship or just completed your third, use these skills to maximize your limited time. Once you own your internship, make sure to record everything you learned and contributed to your resume. This experience is a unique opportunity to make mistakes and learn foundational lessons. Use every day of your internship to help set you on the best path for the career of your dreams.