Of course, not every internship results in a job offer. But approaching each opportunity as if it could come with a bevy of career benefits. Consider this one: “Fully immersing yourself in the experience and realizing your internship really is your current job will give you a much different perspective when it comes to judging your experience,” says Jill Jacinto, millennial career expert. “Watching from the sidelines and getting your hands dirty will give you very different outcomes.” So if you’re ready to roll around in the company mud, so to speak, with the goal of getting a full-time job in mind, here’s exactly what you need to do to get noticed.
Adopt the attitude of “All hands on deck.”
According to Jacinto, you should never, ever, in an internship utter the phrase: “That’s not my job.” (Of course, exceptions should be made if you’re asked to do something immoral or illegal.) “As an intern, you are unfortunately at the low end of the totem pole,” she explains. “You need to prove you can succeed at the seemingly low-level tasks in order to graduate onto the next phase.” But on the plus side of swallowing your pride, Jacinto promises, is that “showing that you are ready to help is a major point when it comes to review time.”
Be proactive, not reactive.
Depending upon the work you’re entrusted with as an intern, you could find your schedule packed—or that you’re stuck twiddling your thumbs. But if you don’t get assigned enough work to keep you busy for a full eight-hour day, “it’s up to you to use your free time wisely,” says Jacinto, warning you shouldn’t spend it chatting online or cruising Instagram, hoping work will come your way. “Companies are looking for people who are self-starters and can find work,” she says. If you can’t, “research your competition, scan their social media, read back on the company history, and so on,” she says, to gain knowledge you can use later.
Go out of your way to help.
Perhaps you’re intimidated as the new intern on the block, or cubicle row. But don’t hide behind your partition or computer screen. “Get to know the employees around the office,” Jacinto encourages. “You might be in a group that doesn’t always give you access to other teams, so you should take it upon yourself to see if other teams might need help.” If you can reach out and help others, “you can build relationships” to last your whole career, she says. After all, the person you help out may just be the manager who will offer you a future job.
Work on your social skills.
No one likes small talk. (Can we get an amen?) But, “as odd as it sounds, small talk is an essential part of many office cultures,” says Jacinto. And as an intern, it’s important to learn the art of making it. “Stopping and chatting with your team or manager should actually be encouraged during the work day,” says Jacinto. “It all goes back to building camaraderie and relationships” that could one day lead to a permanent place in the company, she says.
It’s never goodbye: Stay in touch.
Your internship has an expiration date. But don’t sneak out the door when your time is up, Jacinto encourages. “I’ve had many interns magically disappear on their last day,” she says. “They didn’t say goodbye, send a note, or even finish assignments.” Instead, stand out and show off your employment potential by reminding your manager of your last day and even asking for a review, Jacinto instructs. Once you leave, connect with your former employer on LinkedIn, and shoot him or her an email every few months. That way, “if you enjoyed your summer and want to return, this will keep you top of mind,” Jacinto explains.
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