Your internship is in full swing, and you’ve decided that you want to stay. The work, the culture, the other employees…they all fit as if you ordered them from some dream-job catalog. And you’ve confirmed that the pay is competitive, if not excellent. If you really want to stay, there’s a good chance you can. But it takes strategy, planning, and hard work. Here’s how:
#1 Treat it like a real job
If you really want to stay, act like you already have the job you want. Work hard and take every task seriously, even if it seems unimportant. If everyone else in the department is staying late to meet a deadline, stick around. Don’t offer to stay; just do it (unless you’re hourly, and your boss is watching the time). Take your work just as seriously as someone who has a five-figure bonus riding on the results.
#2 Adopt the company culture
Make an effort to fit in. Adopt a similar dress code. Use the jargon. Buy the company’s products. If apparel with the company name or logo is available, buy some and wear it proudly. Attend company events. And use the first person. Talk about how “we” do things, not how “you” do things. If somebody remarks, “Oh, I forgot that you’re just an intern,” you’ll know you’re on the right track.
#3 Don’t complain
Nobody is going to hire a whiny intern. Do every task you’re given with enthusiasm. If you don’t understand why the work is necessary, ask – just be careful how you do it, because you don’t want to sound like you’re grumbling. Instead, say something like, “I’ve been trying really hard to see how all of the pieces fit together here. Can you tell me more about how this task contributes to the organisation?" And, if you’re doing nothing but grunt work that is contributing absolutely nothing to your education, talk to your academic advisor and let him handle the situation for you. If something is so bad that you just can’t let it go, you need to reconsider whether you really want to work there.
#4 Be a sponge
An internship is supposed to be about learning, so soak up every nugget of wisdom you can. Never turn down the opportunity to learn something new, even if you don’t really see how the knowledge will benefit you. Ask thoughtful questions…not, “Where is the mailroom?” but “I noticed that our stock price went way up when our competitor published strong earnings. Can you explain how that works?” Ask for feedback frequently, and strive to take any advice that is given.
Make sure, your employer knows you want a permanent position. This is especially important if you still have another semester or two before you graduate. Let your boss know that you’d like to work on a part-time basis while you’re in school. If that’s not possible due to distance, just stay on the radar. Keep in touch on social media. Share industry news and tag your former colleagues. Call to chat once in a while. If you’re in town, stop by for a visit or ask permission to attend a company function.
Internships are kind of like a trial period for both you and your employer. Some interns decide that they wouldn’t work for that particular company at any price, and that’s fine. But if you think you’ve found your career home, it’s worth making every effort to secure a permanent job.