A summer internship program is a great way to increase your employability as a recent graduate. It can help you develop both your technical and soft skills, deepen your knowledge, and enter the job market more confidently.
Though not all internships are created equal, with a bit of luck, you’ll join a team that makes you feel appreciated and helps you grow as a professional. If that happens, you’ll want to put in a bit of extra effort to turn your internship into a permanent role. Indeed, such teams are worth holding on to!
In this article, we’ll look at the things you can do to successfully change your job title from “intern” to “junior”. Here are 10 ways to stand out from the crowd and better your chances of receiving a job offer!
1. Show reliability
Reliability is one of the most desirable personal qualities an employee can have, as it lays the foundation for trusting relationships between colleagues. So, if you’re the type of person to sleep through your alarms, you may want to prioritize improving your sleep hygiene so you can get to work on time and feel rested. This will boost your performance.
Reliability goes beyond getting to places on time, however. Working on your time management (using strategies like time-blocking) will help you stay on top of your deadlines and demonstrate a strong work ethic.
The more you show that you take your work seriously, the more likely your employer will be to trust you with additional responsibilities and take you from intern to full-time employee.
2. Ask questions
If you’ve only just left school or university, you’ve probably never worked in a similar setting before. This can understandably be a little intimidating! However, you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. Clarifications about your responsibilities or how the business operates will allow you to do a better job while demonstrating an interest in and commitment to the company.
In the words of Chris Alexakis, founder of CabinetSelect: “You shouldn’t be afraid to explore beyond your department. Use this time to understand our business holistically. Ask questions, learn about different roles, and contribute your insights wherever you can. Your goal isn’t just to clock in and out; instead, you’re here to help us grow, and we’re here to help you grow, too.”
3. Demonstrate initiative
If you’re done with a task earlier than expected, let your supervisor know you’re free and eager to take on something else. If a problem arises and none of your colleagues have the time or capacity to take it on, offer to take care of it yourself.
Showing that you’re willing to help your team wherever you can will be appreciated! Having said that, however, don’t say yes to everything and overburden yourself. Knowing your limits and working within them will allow you to perform better, safeguarding your focus and minimizing stress.
4. Seek feedback
Receiving feedback can be a little scary when you’re not used to it. When you’re just getting started in the world of work and careers, you may be likelier to interpret your manager’s words as indicative of your ability and worth as a person. This isn’t the case, however; the hiring manager picked you for a reason. Plus, everyone receives feedback, even your seniors.
Being told that there are certain things you can improve on forms a clear path ahead of you: it lets you know where to invest more of your energy. So, show your supervisor you’re open to comments and keen to improve.
5. Keep a growth mindset
The longer you do something, the more confident you become. So, it makes sense that when you’re only starting your internship, things can feel rocky. Making a small mistake can seem like the end of the world when you’re inexperienced, so it’s important to remind yourself that it really isn’t.
Mistakes are simply how we learn. Your manager makes them, your CEO makes them, every human being does. Though it may not come naturally at first, use conscious reminders and affirmations to help yourself navigate the initial anxiety that comes from receiving critical feedback or making errors. Then allow yourself to try again with the new information you’ve learned.
6. Make connections and contacts
Jeff Mains, CEO at Champion Leadership Group, says this of the importance of building a professional network: “Building professional relationships with colleagues and other team members can open doors for potential opportunities. Being proactive in attending company events and workshops, and contacting employees for informational interviews can help interns gain valuable insights and make lasting connections.”
It's true: the stronger your bond with your team, the likelier that they’ll think of you when they hear about an opportunity in the future, whether at the company or elsewhere. So, work on your communication skills, boost your cultural awareness, and don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through when interacting with others!
7. Work on your confidence
Whether it’s in interns or part-time or full-time employees, employers like to see confidence. A confident employee is someone who will take initiative, hold themselves accountable and approach things with a positive attitude — even challenges and mistakes. But confidence can do even more for the team: it can enhance problem solving, as colleagues who aren’t afraid to voice their opinions in front of one another can end up finding smarter, more creative solutions.
As Jessica Bane, Director of Business Operations at GoPromotional puts it: “Embrace the role of a disruptor and innovator, or demonstrate the potential to become one. Such an attitude positions you as a great asset to the company, someone who can contribute fresh perspectives and creative solutions.”
8. Develop your emotional intelligence
In simple terms, emotional intelligence refers to things like emotional regulation and self-awareness. The more in tune you are with your emotional wellbeing, the better you’ll connect with others, handle stress in the workplace, and keep misunderstandings or disagreements from escalating — all of which are desirable at the office.
Here are some ways in which you can develop your emotional intelligence and establish yourself as an excellent team player:
- Practice observing how you feel using body scans.
- Notice how certain emotions alter your behavior.
- Make taking care of your physical needs a priority.
9. Get organized
According to Phil Vam, CEO of Microstartups.org: “…Interns who show initiative, take on extra responsibilities and consistently meet deadlines are the ones who stand out.”
In order to meet your deadlines, consistently produce high-quality work and take on added tasks where you can, though, you need to be very organized.
If you’re not sure how to get started in improving your organizational skills, here are some ideas: create to-do lists for your day and week; clearly label your documents and folders, digital or not; use a diary to note upcoming deadlines; and, finally, make use of reminder apps.
10. Stay curious
A hunger for learning new things is a quality that can really set you apart at work. It can motivate you to stay up to date with the latest practices and advancements in your industry, which is of benefit to the whole team.
But curiosity goes beyond acquiring new knowledge; it can enable you to think more creatively, keep a more positive attitude towards work (and life in general) and safeguard your psychological wellbeing.
So, don’t be afraid to ask yourself and others questions, even ones that sound ‘silly’ to you! The more ideas you explore, the more engaged and active your mind will be.
Riddhi Kalsi, a University of Delhi alumnus who turned his Harvard Business Publishing internship into a full-time position, makes the following comment in an article: “[Turning your internship into a permanent job] doesn’t take a magic pill. It just takes awareness, patience, and intention.” We couldn’t agree more!
To summarize, doing the following can help you in turning an internship into a full-time role:
- Demonstrating strong transferable skills, like time management, organization and open communication.
- Keeping a growth mindset, trying to view errors as opportunities to learn rather than a reflection on your worth or ability.
- Showcasing your curiosity, passion and positivity, even when faced with challenges.
- Investing in your workplace friendships and connections.
- Remembering that it’s okay if things don’t work out right away. Finding a full-time job can take a while; unfortunately, timing and luck do play a role sometimes.
We wish you the best in landing your dream entry-level job! If you have questions or suggestions for other graduates, share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Originally published on March 21, 2017.