Today, internships are more important than ever. With the economy and job market slowly bouncing back, employers are very cautious when considering hiring new people. No matter how excited you are to be working this summer, it is important to keep in mind that your internship is a window of opportunity in finding a job. Think of it as a three month job interview, in which you have the opportunity to test out a company and determine whether you’d want to work there full-time.
The most successful interns view their short-term opportunities as more than just a summer gig. They see it as a chance to prove to their employers that they can hack it in the business. But how do you pull that off? Here are five ways interns can shape up, stand out and get hired:
1. Learn the business.
Don’t limit yourself to the tasks you are given. Take the time to learn how the business runs as a whole so you can identify additional ways you can help. Always ask for additional work and be proactive about contributing to the business. Always have a positive attitude about your tasks, no matter how menial they may seem. Once you show you can be trusted with small tasks, managers will give you more responsibility.
2. Establish goals.
Within the first week of starting your internship, make an appointment with your manager to establish goals. Discuss projects you’d like to tackle and specific skills you hope to gain over the summer. Not every task you’re going to do is something you’ll enjoy, but have the attitude that these are the building blocks to your career.
3. Ask questions.
Don’t be shy about asking questions, especially if you need clarification on an assignment. Make sure to ask questions that will elicit an informative answer. Also, it is a good rule of thumb to carry a notebook with you at all times, especially when meeting with your manager, in order to record and refer back to any information for are given.
4. Send regular status reports.
This is always a good idea, even if you aren’t required to do so. It will make it easy for your employer to see what you have achieved during your internship and what you are capable of as a full-time employee. Also, don’t be shy to ask for feedback on your performance; it is the quickest way to help you grow and improve. Develop open communication with your fellow interns and managers to ensure you're learning and improving throughout your time with the company.
Your internship, if nothing else, is a great opportunity to get to know people in an industry. It is important to utilize your internship as a chance to make important connections that can help you in the future. Become friendly with your fellow interns and managers and don't be afraid to spark up casual conversations to gain some insight into their experiences at the company within their career. This shows your interest in the company and the industry as a whole.
Remember, applying for a job is a mutual courtship. Stay in contact with those you've interned for, and send them a casual email throughout the year to see how they are doing. If a job opens up, they will think of you right away, and possibly consider you for the job.
Have you turned your internship into a job? Tell us how you did it in the comments below!Trae Lewis is a recent graduate of University of Colorado and a staff writer for CollegeFocus, a website dedicated to helping students deal with the challenges of college, including housing, finance, style, health, relationships, and transferring from a community college to a four-year university.