Summer is in full-swing and you’ve landed an amazing internship. For you, this is no summer fling–this is the gateway to your dream job. So how can your shape your intern experience into a full-time job once you graduate?
Here are six ways:
1. Get some proper feedback
A well-run summer internship should include a formal, structured evaluation process in which both sides give and receive feedback. In a perfect world, this should be happening throughout your internship, ideally on a weekly basis. But if it hasn’t been, now’s the time to set up a meeting with your manager or supervisor. Even if everyone thinks you’ve been doing a great job, this formal feedback is going to be a vital part of logging what you’ve achieved and, crucially, any next steps and/or opportunities.
2. Think hard about what you’ve learned (and set some future goals)
As you go through your internship, make sure to occasionally sit down and think hard (and truthfully) about how you feel you are doing. This includes what you’ve learned so far, what is going well and what could be going better. An internship should be a learning process for both sides – and often one where you realize a company or career definitely isn’t for you is as valuable as the opposite – but it makes sense to set aside some time for self-audit and reflection. Getting in the habit of setting yourself some “smart” (specific, measurable, assignable, realistic and time-related) future goals can be a good way, too, to focus your mind on your next steps. In turn, it could help to focus the conversation during your evaluation meeting.
3. Don’t be afraid to pop the question
The best opportunity to speak to your manager, supervisor, mentor or HR/graduate training lead about future opportunities may well be during the evaluation process. But whenever it happens, the key is that it does happen. In other words, you need to be plucking up the courage to ask the question. Don’t leave it to nods or hints. Get some clarity. You don’t need to be pushy, but make the point you’ve really enjoyed your time at the company, would love to get some more experience and would be really interested to discuss any permanent opportunities that come up in the future. Remember, the organization won’t necessarily know you’re potentially interested in something more permanent unless you tell them.
4. Keep visible
Again, this should be something you’ve been doing throughout your internship: networking, asking questions, showing enthusiasm and eagerness. But it’s important to maintain this visibility right to the end, even if it feels like the process is winding down and your managers or colleagues are beginning to focus on what’s happening next. If there are any last-minute company or departmental networking events that you can volunteer to go along to, grab those opportunities with both hands.
5. Be professional right to the end
Even if you’re chomping at the bit to get out of your office clothes and back to your more relaxed student lifestyle, it’s important to keep working and delivering – and be seen to be doing so – right to the end of the internship. As much as your skills or qualifications, a professional, engaging and personable demeanor will count strongly in your favor if or when you’re being considered for something more permanent later on.
6. Keep in touch, and mean it
During your final days, it can pay dividends to be proactive about getting contact details and making it clear you’d like to keep in touch with all the “contacts” you’ve made. You will need to check this is going to be appropriate, but you could say something like, “I’ve really enjoyed working here, is it OK if I keep in touch periodically and, if so, would that be best with you or someone else?” It may well be your boss or line manager as a result becomes a de facto mentor as well as an important champion for you, and your recruitment prospects, further down the line. The other crucial point to make here is if you say you’re going to keep in touch, then do so. As a first step, make the effort to send round a “thank you for having me” email. That’s not only courteous, it can give you an opportunity to reiterate your interest in any opportunities or openings that may come along. Additionally, it allows you to set a timeframe for further contact and follow up to discuss the possibility of another internship or more permanent opportunities.