From intern to employee


In this economy, a college graduate’s best chance of getting a full-time job might be to turn that summer internship into a permanent position after the summer ends. The trick to accomplishing this feat: don’t think of it just like a summer gig.

“Treat it as a 10 to 12 week interview,” says Alex Taylor, vice president of university relations for Bank of America in Charlotte, NC

Because first impressions are important, dress professionally. Arrive better dressed than usual on the first day. It’s a token of respect and a safety measure – you can never be too elegant, but you can be underclothed. Female interns should wear a skirt or dress that falls to (or just above) their knees, or pants and a top that covers their shoulders. Never wear flip flops, do not show cleavage or anything that is torn or torn. Male interns should wear pants or khakis with a button-down shirt and tie. After the first few days, let yourself be inspired by high-ranking colleagues.

In pictures: from intern to employee

Make an appointment with your manager within the first week to set goals. Discuss specific skills that you would like to acquire during the summer and other projects that you would like to work on. Openly listen to the type of work your managers assign and be enthusiastic.

“You won’t enjoy every task you do, but you have a mindset that these are building blocks of your career,” said Tom Musbach, editor-in-chief of Yahoo! Hot jobs. “As soon as you show that you can become familiar with small tasks, managers give you more responsibility.”

This first meeting is also a good time to ask your manager how he or she prefers to communicate. This is especially useful when you have questions and need to provide project updates. Ask if he or she prefers to speak in person or by email or instant messenger. Some managers want interns to wait until the end of the day (when they have multiple questions) and others don’t mind interns asking them questions when they come up.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions, especially when you need some clarification on a task. Nobody wants to be a pest, but it’s best to get it right the first time. “Asking smart questions is a positive trait in an employee,” says Holly Stroupe, a former Bank of America intern who was hired full-time as vice president of executive development after her internship in 2005. Business seeks that. It also shows your commitment and this is what employers are looking for. It shows that you are motivated to perform well. “

Keep a work journal throughout the summer that includes new skills you’ve learned and tasks completed. “They’ll be great building blocks for your resume,” says Musbach. Also, save any free emails or notes for ideas for possible references.

Quality work is only part of your work as an intern. You also need to network. Most companies make this easy by hosting internship events throughout the summer. Take part in all of them; They are great for meeting other interns, an important group as you are all in the same field. As your career progresses, they can tell you about vacancies at other companies, recommend specific employers, and introduce you to important people in the industry.

These internship events are also ideal opportunities to meet employees and supervisors in other departments. Take an interest in how they got where they are and ask what they like about working there. Another great tip for getting to know the full-time staff: eat where they eat. If there is a break room or cafeteria that staff visit frequently, eat there and introduce yourself. When you’ve broken the ice, ask them to have a cup of coffee with you for advice on a project you’re working on. People generally like to feel like experts.

There are many ways to network – and they don’t all have to be formal. If the company has a softball team, join them. If everyone goes out for a drink after work, meet them at the bar. But have just one drink and keep it up all night.

Meeting colleagues in casual surroundings makes the more formal meetings easier. Attending staff meetings may be intimidating at first, but if you’ve been to some of them, take part. “Ask questions and come up with ideas,” said Betty Smith, manager, university recruitment at Hewlett Packard. “Ask questions that are targeted and productive for the meeting.”

When communicating with others inside or outside the company, remember to keep correspondence professional. Incoming interns are used to casually send text messages. However, when composing a business email, use the person’s full name and always use the correct case and punctuation. Finish the note with respect and don’t use exclamation marks too often. Also, make sure you only reply to the required person – don’t email the entire company.

Before the summer ends, get your coworkers’ contact information and send them thank you notes. Network with them year round by sending the occasional email asking how they are and what interesting projects they are working on. These people are important contacts – they can not only serve as a reference, but also recommend you for a job in the company or inform you about positions at other companies.

When it comes to getting a job, it’s about who you know.

In pictures: from intern to employee