Some internships are basically The Hunger Games (minus the violence and love triangles, hopefully). Others are more stagnant affairs, where you never seem to have anything to do.
No matter what kind of internship you’re in this summer, it’s always good to make the best of your situation.
Here are some tips on how you can up your intern game and secure more permanent employment at the end of your program.
Tell your boss you want the job
Lauren Berger, founder and CEO ofInternQueen.com, says that manyinterns see their hopes of receiving a job offer dashed because of one massive blunder.
They don’t tell their employers that they’re interested in a full-time job opportunity.
“If a student is at an internship that’s known for giving a large percentage of interns job offers, they should ask questions at the beginning of their internship to make sure they understand the process of getting a job offer from their internship,” Berger says. “If they are at a smaller company, they should set a meeting with their supervisor halfway through the internship and clearly communicate that they’d be interested in an employment opportunity.”
Put yourself out there
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It’s important to get to know people in the office, beyond your intern group, boss, and immediate desk neighbors. Breaking the ice might be awkward, but TopResume career expert Amanda Augustine says says it’s important to get to know your colleagues.
“Introduce yourself to those around you,” Augustine says. Don’t be afraid to invite a coworker for lunch or a cup of coffee. Remember, this is the start of your professional network. The people you meet during your internship may become valuable sources for references, job leads, or even mentors during your future job search.”
Berger also recommends that interns take practical steps, like setting up informational meetings with various connections in the office.
“Ask for advice and try to understand how they got to where they are today.”
Take it seriously
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Remember, you’re not “just an intern” and your assignments aren’t “just busy work.” Augustine says to take your work seriously and to put effort into any task thrown your way.
“Whether you’re taking notes in a department-wide meeting or organizing files in the back office, your internship can be a valuable learning opportunity, when properly utilized,” says Augustine. “Ask lots of questions. There’s no better way to get the inside scoop on a career path than to observe professionals in the field. While you may not be delivering the sales pitch to clients, you can earn invaluable experience by helping with research or participating in the meeting, even silently.”
Be so good they can’t ignore you
YouternCEO and founder Mark Babbitt says that one famous comedian has it right when it comes to getting hired.
“Steve Martin’s now famous quote – ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you’ – is almost the perfect career advice for interns,” Babbitt says.
Advocate for yourself
In order to get noticed by your colleagues, it’s crucial that you do excellent work.
But if you’re working in a busy, competitive, or chaotic environment, a tasteful amount of self-championing can’t hurt either.
“This is where quantified impact statements – preferably in terms of dollars, hours or percentages – come into play,” says Babbitt. “How much money or time did you save? How did you exceed expectations and by how much? Through humble brags, during feedback sessions and certainly on your LinkedIn page, let people know how you’ve directly contributed to the success of the organization.”
Befriend the gatekeepers
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When you’re an intern, it’s a good idea to figure out who’s in charge of making hiring decisions in the office. This goes double for interns that’ll be heading back to school once their internship is over.
You’ll need a connection that can tell you when and if openings happen and what the company’s hiring cycle looks like (e.g. new hires typically come on board in spring).
So make sure to grab coffee with your boss, a former intern who currently works full-time at the organization, or someone from human resources.
Be easy to work with
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You don’t need to be the first person to come in every morning and the last person to leave at night in order to impress people. According to Berger, it’s better to focus on being friendly, helpful, and reliable every single day.
“Try to be the intern that’s never sitting around with nothing to do – introduce yourself to different people in the office – your magic words should be’I’m here to help,'” Berger says.