This blog was published in October 2014 and has been updated for stats and relevancy.
Internships allow university students to develop new skills, apply what they’ve learned in the classroom and gain experience. In this candidate-driven job market, internships are a great opportunity to transition seamlessly into a full-time role. It's mutually beneficial as skills gaps continue to plague industries and interns can jumpstart their careers without the post-graduation job search scramble.
Recent data from NACE’s 2022 Internship & Co-Op Survey Report indicates employers are expecting to increase intern hiring by 23% — the largest increase in 10 years. In addition, 68% of employers offered their interns full-time job offers during the 2020-2021 academic school year and 76% of interns accepted. These trends reinforce that internships often serve as a stepping stone to later job opportunities that become available at the same company.
Although there's no magic formula to converting your internship into a full-time job, these seven tips will help you lay a strong foundation for being a huge value add to your company:
Tip #1: Have a strong work ethic.
Having a strong work ethic goes a long way, especially when it comes to earning respect and trust from your team. As an intern, you will be the youngest and least experienced employee, but that doesn't mean that you should use either as an excuse to not work hard. If your peers view you as responsible and dedicated, they will trust you with more projects — and ownership of projects is one of the best ways to demonstrate what you've achieved throughout your internship. This is especially true in future job interviews, regardless of whether the interview is at the same company or a different one.
Tip #2: Invest in building relationships.
Invest in building relationships at work and you'll find your internship a more rewarding experience. If you work in-office, consider inviting team members to join you for lunch or attend optional company events such as coffee talks or employee resource groups. If you work remotely, consider scheduling team meetings, casual one-on-one calls or meet-and-greets with new hires or other interns. Most importantly, connect with your coworkers on LinkedIn so you can stay in touch and continue building those relationships. The connections you build during an internship don’t have to end with your internship — they can strengthen for years to come. Even if you don't end up working for the company you intern for, the connections you make while you are there could serve as future mentors and references.
Tip #3: Demonstrate a willingness to help.
As an intern, your goal should be to learn as much as you can. By offering your help and support to team members, fellow interns and supervisors, you'll be given additional opportunities to learn and develop new skills. Being helpful can also alleviate some of the stress that others around you may be experiencing if they are working on a lot of projects at the same time. Also, if your managers are thinking about hiring you full-time, they will most likely gather feedback from other employees. This is where interacting with different people in on the team can work in your favor. If you're a valuable asset to the team, your coworker will vouch for you.
Tip #4: Assess the company culture.
Company culture is a huge indicator of whether you will feel happy and fulfilled at work. If you find yourself unhappy with the office culture, don't force it. The company is probably the wrong fit and you should pursue other options when it comes time to search for full-time work. To accurately assess culture fit, make a pros and cons list and determine what you’re looking for from an employer. Evaluating your needs against a company's employer value proposition (EVP) can help you determine what’s right for you. Remember this: culture fit is one of the key factors to consider when you are deciding whether to accept or decline a job offer.
Tip #5: Ask for feedback.
Asking for feedback is critical for your success. Feedback provides an opportunity to learn from colleagues and creates an open and honest dialogue that helps you improve your performance. As an intern, you should consider asking your manager for feedback around the 30-, 60- and 90-day mark. It's also a great idea to ask your colleagues for general feedback since these are the people you work most closely with. Being open to advice shows you’re open to constructive criticism and growth. It also shows you're dedicated to your role, your team and the company you're interning with.
Tip #6: Express your goals.
If you express early on that you wish to transition your internship into a full-time job, then your manager will have you in mind when a position becomes available. However, this doesn’t mean you will be automatically hired. Be ready to prove that you are the right candidate for the job by communicating where you can add value from areas of opportunity you see on the team. Is there a function you feel could bring profit with your knowledge? Consider ways to convey this regularly to your manager and discuss options with your team. Just because you landed an internship with the company doesn’t mean that they’re ready to hire you full-time. Show them that you are the right choice by taking initiative!
Tip #7: Timing is everything.
Keep an eye out as full-time positions open up. If there aren’t any spots available when your internship concludes, make sure to leave on good terms. When a position does become available, your manager will be more likely to consider you because you've proven your dependability and work ethic.
While not every internship will end with a full-time offer, and this uncertainty can be stressful, stay positive and remind yourself that everything will work out. Be open-minded to other opportunities that could help you work toward your career goals. Most importantly, take a deep breath and embrace the journey.