How to Turn Your Internship into a Full-time Job

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Despite what you may have seen depicted in movies and TV shows, most internships are about way more than just fetching coffee and slaving away in a file room (although, sorry, sometimes those tasks are on the to-do list). The fact is, internships are one of the best ways to land your dream job thanks to everything from real-world experience to networking opportunities in the industry. And if you’re interning at a company you’d love to work for, you’re already one step ahead. 

Countless studies have shown a positive correlation between internship experience and full-time employment, and one 2012 survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges & Employers (NACE) revealed that more than 40 percent of new hires were expected to come from a company’s internship program. Clearly, it’s possible to turn that college requirement into an actual career. The tricky part is how, or more specifically, how to stand out in a sea of fellow interns and applicants gunning for the same potential position. Doing your internship duties (really well) is a start, but we’ve compiled a list of practical ways to graduate from intern to employee, using both our own experience and words of wisdom from hiring managers.

1. Save the Best for Last

If you’re interning while in school, it’s a good idea to pad your resume with some relevant experience before applying for the *big* one. You know, the internship in your ideal field, at your dream company? This coincides with some of the best advice I was given while in college, which resulted in my eventual hire: Intern at the place you want to work during your last semester, and you’ll be immediately eligible for that full-time position when you leave school. Of course, this doesn’t guarantee a job offer, but it boosts the chances.

2. Do Your Research

You should be knowledgeable and well-versed in the company and your department’s role before even applying for the internship, but once you’re in, show interest and investment by asking questions and learning even more about the inner-workings. You might not be called upon to make improvements or suggestions, but if the moment arises, you’ll be fully prepared to impress.

3. Solve Problems on Your Own

You can also apply that knowledge to troubleshoot any issues you run into without constantly checking in with your manager. According to Andrea Uku, the national editor of Net-a-Porter, interns who “have the confidence to solve problems without hand-holding or running every step by their manager show that they’re ready to take on more responsibility.”

4. Be Flexible and Willing to Help

Like we said before, sometimes interns *are* asked to do a coffee run or a tedious data entry project. Hey, we all started from the bottom at some point, and it’s important not to treat any task like it’s below you (as long as you’re not being taken advantage of). In my personal experience hiring and recommending interns for full-time positions, people who always offered to help with an extra task and were willing to be flexible with their everyday duties struck me as team players I would want to work alongside.

5. Treat Your Internship Like It’s Already Your Job

What better way to show you’d be a great employee than by actually being a great employee? Show up on time, be professional and care about your work. Even if your internship comes with an expiration date (and without a salary) take the advice of Taylor Boozan, a public relations manager, and treat it like it’s already a job: “The interns I’ve hired for full-time positions have been invested in their work and the success of the company. I saw that they weren’t just here for a school requirement—they saw a future here, and then they got it!”

6. Socialize and Insert Yourself into the Office Culture

So you’ve been excelling at your duties—now it’s time to socialize! Managers are more likely to endorse someone for a position on their team if they actually like having them around, so don’t be afraid to make connections and insert yourself in the company culture. Be friendly! Be yourself! Talk about your hobbies and see what interests you share with your potential coworkers. “An intern stands out to me when they’re more interesting than their resume,” says Michael Tommasiello, a senior director at a New York ad agency. “I want to hear about what they’re doing outside of school and the office. Could I have an interesting conversation with them about something outside of work? That’s what I’m looking for when hiring.”

7. Illustrate Exactly How Valuable You Are

From the first day of your internship, you should be recording any analytics that tracks your success and contributions to the company. That way, when it’s time to step up to the plate and talk to your employer about staying on full-time, you’ll be able to show—not just tell—them why you’re valuable to the company. You can’t argue with hard data.

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