I’ve often been asked how I went from interning at Who What Wear to being a full-time employee. While I think that there are more factors that contributed to this than I can count or even take credit for (including luck, timing, and amazing supervisors), there were certain things that were in my control that made a major difference. Both as a former intern and someone who currently has interns, I know there’s a lot one can do to leave an impression—whether it’s simply being on time or bringing a brilliant idea to the table.
Scroll through to read my five top tips for turning your internship into a job—or, at the very least, crushing it on the next one!
Wherever you work or intern, it’s important to get to know as many people in the company as possible, both those in and out your department. You should not only be receptive to meeting new people, but proactive about it. One way to do this is to take on tasks that involve interacting with employees in other positions or departments—even if it means simply delivering mail. Your direct supervisor might not always be the final decision-maker when it comes to new hires, so the more immersed in the company you are, the better.
I cannot stress how important this is. While it may seem trivial, you’d be surprised how many of your fellow interns will ignore this, not taking their internship as seriously as they would a “real job.” You’d also be surprised to know how crucial your presence is to your supervisor—even if they don’t tell you so, and especially if they are expecting you. There’s nothing wrong with taking a few days off in a semester for studying, sickness, or even vacations—but if you’re going to miss work, it’s important to let them know ahead of time and even remind them shortly before. This little (and easy!) thing can set you apart from the pack significantly.
If there is one phrase you should forget exists, it would be: “That’s not my job.” As an intern, if you’re unable to be flexible, wear many hats, and go beyond your designated duties, your boss surely won’t imagine you doing so should you be hired. How you act as an intern informs whether or not you can be seen as a prospective employee. If you’re done with your work for the day, find a way to ask your supervisor (without pestering them) if there’s anything else you can do—or, even better, suggest something you can do to help.
If you’ve ever interned before, you know that there are always moments where you think: “Why are we (or they) doing it this way—it’s inefficient!” Or: “This would go so much faster if we did this.” Rather than simply thinking them, you should find a way to voice your ideas—as long as you can back them up with a viable solution. There’s no better way to make an impression than by contributing something to the organization. Whether it’s a new way to do things, or a way to improve on the current system, speak up—they’ll appreciate it.
This brings me to my last point, which is to simply know your place. This may sound harsh, but working in an office requires a certain decorum that you may not be used to, having never been in that position before. While, like I said above, it’s important to contribute, get to know people, and stand out as an intern, the way you go about doing so is just as crucial. When speaking to your superiors, remember that he or she is an expert in their field, or at least more experienced than you. Also, when talking to or approaching someone, remember that timing is key, so if it doesn’t seem like a good time to talk, hold off. Lastly, even if you feel comfortable around your supervisor, always maintain your professionalism and don’t think you’re above it.
Do you have any career questions for us? Share them in the comments and you may just inspire our next story!