The academic year may be coming to a close, but for many students, that doesn’t mean the hard work stops. In fact, the real work is just the beginning with the start of summer internships.
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, employers place more weight on job experience, particularly through internships, than academics when evaluating a new graduate for future employment. In fact, according to a survey completed by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the 2015 conversion rate from an intern becoming a full-time hire was 51.7 percent. A degree is no longer the only factor in getting a job post graduation. Here are a few ways you can become a part of that 51.7 percent to go from intern to company employee:
Don’t look like an intern
One of my favorite sayings is “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have.” Make sure you dress appropriately for the office and not casual. Do you want to be an intern your whole life, or do you want to be a CEO someday? If you said CEO (which I hope you did), then dress like a CEO! Wear a suit, heels, and button-up shirt. You may not need to dress so formally depending on what career industry you want to enter into, but you should still dress professionally. How do you expect to get a job or be taken seriously when you walk into the office with inappropriate work attire such as sneakers and a T-shirt? You are a reflection of your brand. Show your internship supervisor you look like a future employee and not some student coming off the street.
Not sure what to wear to look professional? Check out these must-have spring fashion essentials for the modern career woman.
This should be common sense, but you’d be surprised at how some interns forget this. Just because you’re not an employee yet does not give you the freedom to be wild and carefree. In fact, now is the time to be the most professional when you’re hoping to turn the internship into a job offer. For instance, do not swear or talk slang with your supervisor or other employees. Don’t get loud or drunk at intern social events where other employees are in attendance. Also, be courteous and respectful to all company employees, including the receptionist or cleaning staff. People will see your words and actions as a testament to your true character.
Do you have a suggestion on how to handle a project during a meeting? Raise your hand and say why you think your solution may be the best answer. Ready to take on more responsibility? Speak with your supervisor about getting assigned to new projects to showcase your strengths. Bottom line: Don’t sit on the sidelines. Employers want to see you’re proactive, willing to help the team, and up for the challenge. This includes completing tasks that you may feel overqualified for. Making copies or filing paperwork may seem easy and mundane but you should take every task as an opportunity to shine. Your willingness to help the team with any task and positive attitude will show your company that you will be a wonderful asset to their team.
Network within the office
As an intern, you may feel the only people you should speak to are your internship supervisor and fellow interns. However, if you want to get hired by the company full-time post-internship, you need to develop relationships with other employees in the office. Not sure how to network within the office? Try asking another department if they need help on a project (if you’re not busy working on another task, of course). Schedule informal one-on-one meetings with other employees to introduce yourself and receive career advice. The goal is to have numerous people vouching on your behalf when a new position opens up at the company.
Share your goals & intentions with your intern supervisor
If you would like a potential job offer from your internship, make those intentions clear to your intern supervisor. Don’t assume they know what your goals are! Schedule a meeting with your supervisor to discuss and create a plan of how to get you to that next level. If they cannot guarantee you’ll receive an offer, your supervisor may be able to guide and direct you on what to do and what attributes they’re looking for in a full-time employee. But unless they know you want this internship to become something more, they won’t be able to help you move up the ladder.
Your internship may not turn into a full-time position, but there are several ways to show the company you are a hard-working, dedicated professional that they should hire. An internship is a test for employers to determine whether you will be a worthy investment — a “try it before you buy it” mentality. So show them what a valuable asset you are to the company that hiring you full-time will be the best decision they made this summer!
Sasha Monik Moreno is a Founding Creator and career and education blogger. When she's not sharing her advice on Vivala.com, you can find her at themodernlatina.com.