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Converting an Internship into a full-time Job

If you’ve accepted a summer internship or co-op, congrats!! You are about to embark on what I’m sure will be a fulfilling, engaging, and challenging 12 week experience.  Whether you are graduating next year or not, it is crucial that you proactively think about what you can be doing before, during, and after your work term to impress your employer. Below are my top tips for converting an internship into a full-time job.

  1. Establish goals. Within the first week of your internship, schedule an appointment with your supervisor to establish goals. Talk about projects that you would like to be a part of and the skills that you bring to the table.  Your goal is to show your boss that you are motivated while also giving them something to hold you accountable.
  2. Be dependable. I read all of the intern/co-op performance evaluations at the end of each semester. Every term, the one area that students score the lowest is attendance and punctuality.  Be on time, and don’t miss work. It’s that simple.
  3. Show potential. Be eager! Do your research – even before you step foot on the job – to learn the industry and the company. Ask questions. Ask for new challenges – get outside your comfort zone, and if you ever find yourself bored, ask for more work. Ask for more responsibility; have specific ideas for how you can contribute in deeper, more expansive ways.  Don’t be a wallflower; participate in meetings, including the optional ones. Come prepared, and have ideas to share.
  4. Be irreplaceable. Take on independent projects.  For example, if you have an area of expertise in something that others may not, such as social media, offer to take on that project.  Provide new ideas. Coworkers are looking to you to provide insight/expertise on new trends: things you are learning in school. Make an impact!
  5. Seek out a mentor. A mentor is not the same as a supervisor. While a supervisor evaluates your performance and gives you formal feedback, a mentor is someone you know and trust...someone you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions of, go to for advice, etc.  A mentorship relationship typically forms organically. He/she should be someone who you work and interact with often.  This can be an additional person who will advocate for you at the company.
  6. Connect--and stay connected. Get to know as many people as you can during your time at the company. Introduce yourself to colleagues. Invite others to eat lunch with you. Ask for referrals of who you should get to know. Seek out internal organizations.  If the company has an internal social network, participate! Make sure to connect with your colleagues on LinkedIn.  After you leave the company, keep in touch: send an industry-relevant article, ask about someone’s family, etc. Take note of what is important to people and then share relevant information once you are no longer there. Always send thank you notes and updates when you make a move.
  7. Make your intentions clear. Be vocal about your interests for future work together, if it is a possibility. Know how your organization hires; talk to your HR contact about their process for rehiring. Ask for a written recommendation; even if you don’t need it yet, ask your supervisor to go ahead and write a letter for you. Update your resume, and send it to your HR contact.

If you think there is any chance you’d like to work for your intern employer in the future, follow these tips to knock the socks off of your employer. Have a GREAT summer experience!

“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
-Coco Chanel

About the author

Katy Arenschield

Katy Arenschield is the Engineering Co-op and Internship Program Manager.