Ninety-seven percent of employers plan to hire students to fill internship and co-op roles at their company this year, according to a study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Despite this promising number, it's actually a small drop in the number of interns who have been hired in previous years. Competition is tough, and if you're looking for an internship that will turn into a job offer, follow these tips to position yourself for success:
Check Your Ego at the Door
In most cases, interns are expected to do the tedious work around an office. You likely won't get a bunch of perks or an assignment on an exciting project. Stay motivated and focused on what you want to accomplish during this time with the company, but be prepared to spend hours in the copy room and do the filing and other menial tasks. The higher-ups want to know you have a good attitude about whatever comes your way, and that you’re willing to get your feet wet. Challenging assignments and exciting projects are a privilege as an intern, not a right.
Not all companies have the time, interest or motivation to consider the best use of an intern’s time. Get your work accomplished, and then take it a step further. Where else can you help? Offer to do market research, learn a new software product or write for the company blog (or whatever is appropriate for your area of study). Even streamlining a haphazard filing system to help everyone stay organized demonstrates you're a self-starter—and that's who execs want to hire. Be someone who gets stuff done without being asked.
Demonstrate a Good Work Ethic
Show up to work on time. Dress on the same level as everyone else (or slightly above). Act professional and grateful for the opportunity. Be ready to learn and work hard.
Toward the end of your internship, don’t be afraid to speak up and let them know you're hoping to land a full-time position. Just be courteous and realistic about it. It can take time to hire someone new, and often, internal policy requires certain protocol be followed, such as releasing a job posting to the public.
Keep in Touch
You may not get hired at all, no matter how good of a job you've done. Keep those connections warm and ask them to keep you in mind for future positions. Kick off your post-internship communication by writing a thank you note to your boss and the co-workers who've been especially helpful. A week or two after the internship ends, send a gift basket or floral arrangement. It's a thoughtful way to stay in the forefront of everyone's minds.
Remember, not all internships turn into a full-time job immediately. Hiring managers are busy and need reminders you’re still interested. Send them a short email periodically to let them know you're still out there, and include news of the relevant projects you’re working on. You never know when something will open up.