Understatement of the century: the modern job market for recent grads is oversaturated with high academic achievers.
Colleges and universities churn out professional students like they’re a well-oiled machine, but many recent grads who emerge from the other side are unfortunately indistinguishable from their peers. On-the-job experience sets you apart in ways that a degree can’t always communicate.
When I was in college, I looked forward to my internship because the work I was doing actually made an impact beyond seemingly useless school projects. I looked forward to it so much that I treated every day as if it were my job…which led me to the logical conclusion, “Well, why not just turn it into a job?”
During college, I worked my way from part-time intern to full-time Communications Specialist at my first company, and I wouldn’t have done it any other way! So whether you’re in the middle of an internship or just about to get started, I’ve got five tips and tricks for you to successfully land your first full-time gig – no job application or painstaking interview process needed!
1. Become a Problem-Solver, but Don’t Make a Fuss About It
It’s pretty obvious that one of the main reasons companies seek out interns is to fill a deficiency that their staff might not be able to fill at the moment. I’ll give you a quick example: when my husband was interning at the organization he now works for, he chose to create organizational lists which didn’t yet exist. He saw that things like invoicing could be made easier if he helped develop comprehensive tracking documents and he took initiative without being asked. Finding things that aren’t optimal and fixing them without direct orders is one thing that makes all the difference and helps you stand out in your employer’s eyes.
Other examples of this could be things as simple as taking minutes or notes during meetings, or preparing a report that helps showcase the metrics of how well a certain program or project is running at the company. You can also add value by teaching your older colleagues some tech-related skills that they may not know exist. You’d be surprised at just how many people I have shaken to the core by teaching them how to scan documents through their phone’s Notes app. Hello, time-saving alternative to a finicky scanner!
If the company you’re interning for has a bit less leeway for you to get creative on your own, try reaching out to a supervisor or colleague who seems overwhelmed with their workload and ask them specifics on how you can help. Identifying things that need to get done and delegating those tasks doesn’t always come intuitively for people so if you proactively prompt them to help you help them, you’ll become indispensable.
All that to be said, make sure to be humble. If you have ideas, let them be relevant and helpful. In addition, you’re not a part-time or full-time employee of the organization, so you don’t want to give unsolicited advice or step on toes. There’s a middle ground between being over-eager to show your worth and being a total non-entity.
2. Be Friendly, but Don’t Get Too Chummy
There’s a lot of value in honing your skills as a young adult who can comfortably communicate with people two or three times your age. Even if there’s not that much of an age gap between you and your colleagues, the employers at your company will be impressed if you consistently demonstrate being a team player, and that begins with not only building a professional relationship but a personal relationship as well.
Your colleagues are people too, not just worker-bees! They’ve got major life events, family drama, and unique hobbies. Network with your colleagues and don’t just talk shop with them, take genuine interest in getting to know one another! Office environments are no stranger to stress and elevated nerves, so demonstrating that you’re a joy to have around can go a long way.
Now, your supervisor might not be the CEO of the company, but they could pass along a good word to whoever at the company deals with hiring. If your company isn’t ready to hire you right after the internship, having a positive reputation could benefit you in a number of ways. Perhaps your employers have heard about friendly companies looking to hire someone like you or perhaps if you’ve found a great job listing you could get a letter of recommendation without breaking a sweat.
If it’s appropriate at your company to add one another on social media, make those connections to further your presence in your colleagues' lives. Be communicative with them outside of work hours if need-be, but don’t blow up their inboxes. You want to be positively remembered without coming off as a nag who is desperate for attention.
3. Track Your Accomplishments, and Don’t Stay Quiet About Them
My husband leads the internship program at our organization, and one of the most frustrating things he experiences far too often is an intern finishing an assignment and not telling anyone. This might seem minor, but proper reporting is huge! Make your presence known. When you finish something, don’t just sit there and expect people to know that you’re done and need more work. My husband laments that interns often finish something and instead of speaking up, they just start scrolling through social media to pass the time. That’s not a good use of your time or your employer's time if the whole reason why you’re there is to help them.
If you want to be indispensable and worth hiring, logging your accomplishments to show tangible results for your hard work is key. This might look like a daily tracker on a Word doc, Google doc, Apple notes, or a physical journal that details what you’re finishing. Not only could this demonstrate how efficiently you’re accomplishing tasks, but you can take it upon yourself to report your progress consistently at weekly or monthly check-ins. Then when the time comes for a full evaluation at the end of your internship, you’ve got a full ledger to prove your value.
This also speaks to the fact that you should schedule regular conversations to discuss your progress and then set aside one very specific time to speak with your superior about full-time opportunities. This sit-down could feel intimidating at first – I know it did for me – but I started by describing what I enjoyed the most about being a part of the team and let that lead me into expressing why I’d like to keep making positive contributions as a full-time employee. Of course, you should be honest if they ask for your feedback on any negative experiences or pain points that you have run into, but frame it in a way that shows that you’re interested in growing as a professional within their company and that you’re up for work that challenges you to be better.
4. Get Your Hands Dirty, Often
Yes, I’m serious, do the coffee run. Brew the pot of coffee. Everyone needs that dose of caffeine, and your kindness won’t be forgotten. Far too often, Millennials and Gen Zers will act like menial tasks are beneath us, but everyone starts somewhere, and if you can humbly do any job then you’ll likely earn respect. Very few people make it to the C-Suite without climbing the ladder from the very bottom.
When I started my internship, my supervisor made a daily pot of coffee because he was often the first person in the office. Since I came in at the same time as he did, I took this task off his hands so that his time could be better spent purging his inbox to schedule our CEO’s daily calendar and metaphorically make the trains run on time. Me taking on stereotypical “demeaning” intern work with a positive mindset actually demonstrated my interest in being a team player and inadvertently helped my colleague grow in his role!
You should also try to get your hands dirty by getting them in as many aspects of company culture as appropriate. For example, ask to sit in on certain meetings to absorb the ins and outs of communicating. Like I mentioned before, ask about taking notes or minutes if the items discussed in the meeting aren’t off-limits. Take pride in the spreadsheet-filling projects because it helps you gain a deeper knowledge of the company, and isn’t it way easier to bring someone on full-time who’s already well-versed on company culture and protocol anyway? Continue to diversify how you make your presence known and remembered!
5. Regularly Update (or Create, If You Haven’t Already) Your LinkedIn Profile
I don’t blame you for groaning a bit. LinkedIn is one of the least alluring social media networks, but honestly, it’s becoming weighted almost as heavily as a strong resume, if not on the same level entirely. If you have a thoughtfully crafted LinkedIn profile, you’ll likely look more experienced and therefore a more credible hire for your company to take on.
Usually, companies won’t take issue with you listing yourself officially as an intern and sometimes this is even encouraged. In the “Description” section, try listing out bullet points of specific accomplishments or regular projects (that you totally had listed out already because you were logging your accomplishments, right?) because it will only further serve as a reminder of your worth.
Add as many colleagues at your company as connections on LinkedIn as you can and don’t be afraid to ask them to give Recommendations or gauge if they’d like for you to write one for them on your experience working under them. If your company isn’t ready to bring you on full-time, having built your network digitally and keeping in touch by interacting with posts and staying up-to-date on company happenings could better position you to be remembered if a position opens up. If your company is ready to bring someone on full-time, you’ll have made your IRL rapport and only further ingrained yourself as a formidable presence at the company.
Ultimately, if it’s not meant to be then there’s not much you can do to force your hand. I’d be remiss not to warn you that this list is by no means a guarantee for full-time employment! Demonstrate just how indispensable you are, take on the grunt work, and integrate into company culture to the best of your ability. Be realistic with yourself if your company isn’t ready to hire and know that if you follow practices like these, they will at least position you really well to land a job outside the company where you were interning.
Readers make our world go round. Make your voice heard in the official Evie reader survey.