At last! Through perseverance, patience and sheer dumb luck, you’ve finally managed score yourself the Internship of Your Dreams. But while you’re already imagining how great this unpaid stint will look on your resume, we’ve got even more good news for you; there’s actually a way to parlay your internship into a permanent position. Here’s how:
Cutting your teeth at a big, well-established company in your chosen field is the obvious choice, but consider approaching small to medium sized organisations too. As well as not having to compete with hundreds of other applicants, working within a small team may give you the opportunity to work across multiple departments, take on more responsibility and connect with your colleagues on a deeper level.
That means being the first to arrive and the last to leave. Be positive and energetic about every task assigned to you, however menial you deem it to be. If you find yourself with nothing to do between tasks, don’t just sit there waiting for further direction; get up, walk around and offer up your services. You should take any opportunity you can to prove yourself to be indispensable. If you’re lucky, your manager might ask your colleagues for feedback on you so make sure as many people as possible have positive things to say.
At the beginning of your internship discuss with your manager what you both hope to get out of the experience. Then, around a third of the way into your internship, ask for feedback. Not only does this show that you can take constructive criticism, you’ve also left yourself enough time to turn things around if things aren’t going quite to plan.
Assimilate into the office culture
Every workplace has their own office culture and it’s important for your job prospects if you try to fit into this one as closely as possible. For example, avoid dressing casually if everyone else is relatively smart or leaving on the dot of five if everyone else stays back an hour or two. However, if trying to fit in feels like too much of a struggle perhaps consider the fact that this workplace just isn’t for you.
While it’s always a good idea to be friendly and build up a rapport with your colleagues, maintain a level of professionalism at all times. Just because your desk buddy is telling the entire office about their wild weekend doesn’t mean you should try and break the ice by telling them all about your own antics – your internship should be treated as an extended interview.
Pretending you understand something when you don’t is just a recipe for disaster – don’t do it. Seeking clarification is always encouraged, but make sure you’re armed with a pen and notepad because no one will appreciate you asking for the second time.
Don’t despair if at the end of your internship you haven’t been offered a permanent position. Instead of skulking out of the building with your tail between your legs, request a brief meeting with the big boss. You know, the one who actually does the hiring and firing. If a meeting isn’t possible, send them an email. It’s important to thank them for giving you the opportunity, let them know how much you enjoyed the experience and how you would be keen to hear if any permanent positions pop up in the future. Extend your thanks to your colleagues too, as a little bit of gratitude can go a long way.