Congratulations. You’ve been offered an internship. You should take a moment to enjoy this accomplishment, but it’s just the first step to earning a full-time job offer.
An internship is a great way to get experience, but if you want to earn a full-time offer from the company you are interning for, you need to realize that an internship is just one long interview. There is a reason for every task. You should take every task seriously and handle it with professionalism. This will reflect highly on you in the end.
You should keep this in mind throughout the entire internship. Don’t get too comfortable with your position until you earn that full-time offer.
This point ties in with the fact that your internship is just one long interview. You should try to connect with your co-workers, and build a relationship with them, but you don’t get ‘too comfortable’.
What do we mean by ‘too comfortable’? Maybe some of the full-time employees cut out during the middle of the day for a workout, or one of them gets to the office a bit later than the rest. You shouldn’t assume that you have the same rights as a full-time employee. You shouldn’t assume that it’s ok it cut out for an hour after lunch to workout, and you shouldn’t get to work a bit later in the morning because another full-time employee does. Those employees may have had these actions pre-approved with their superiors, or performed well enough to earn goodwill.
To put it bluntly – You are an intern, not an employee. Always keep this in mind.
Having questions will show that you’re engaged and curious about the business. In fact, many employers believe that questions are a sign of an employee with potential. However, you need to be sure not to ask questions for the sake of asking questions. Your questions should be thoughtful, well researched and asked at the appropriate time.
For example, you should avoid asking someone how to insert an excel chart into PowerPoint for the third time, or continue to ask how to add people to a conference call. The questions that should be asked once are obvious ones. Don’t ask so many questions that you become annoying. Moreover, before you ask a question, ask yourself three things:
Can you find the answer with a little bit of research?
Is the question pertinent to your project or to your better understanding the company?
Is the person you are about to ask the appropriate person? If the question can be easily answered by someone more junior — ask them. If the question is clearly above someones pay grade (the overall strategy of the company), then wait to ask the appropriate person.
When you ask your question is almost as important as what your question is. If your team is hustling to get a proposal out to a client, that’s probably not the best time to ask your question. If your question isn’t critical to the work being done you should wait for a lull in the action to ask your question.
Many interns ask what attributes companies look for in interns that they give full-time offers to. High-performing candidates are always proactive.
If their team is working late, they don’t just leave at 5PM. Instead, they stay and ask their teammates how they can help. Once they finish an assignment, they proactively reach out again and ask if they can help in other areas. Show your willingness to go beyond the basic job description. Look for ways you can make your another persons jobs easier. This will not only help you make an impression, but also build your skill set.
Interning is an opportunity for employers to test interns, but they are also for an opportunity for the intern to be sure they want a job with that company.
Interning gives you a chance to see how well you fit into the organizational culture. Keep this in mind as view employee and client interactions. Each interaction will tell you something about the company’s culture.
If you’ve determined that you aren’t the right fit for the company, this doesn’t mean you should pack it in for the rest of the internship. You should continue to work hard, be diligent, ask questions and treat your co-workers with respect. You want your performance to warrant a future recommendation. Moreover, the relationships you build at this company might come in handy later in your career.