In today’s world, employers are only looking for one thing – experience. But where do you start? How do you get someone to take you on when you don’t have that much experience? That’s where internships come in.
Some people hear the word “intern” and think about coffee runs and tedious tasks. Yes, sometimes you might be asked to make a round of tea. But there stereotypes are exaggerated. Internships are brilliant ways to improve the “Experience” part of your CV. They can build your professional and personal skills at the same time. The subject of internships is vast. It could be a four week unpaid one at a magazine publication, like I did. Or a six month internship with a company, where you’re paid travel expenses. But usually, the pay will be low. So if you’re doing an internship it’s important to get the most out of it as possible. Best case scernario? You get a job out of it.
Research shows employers convert a third of their interns into full time employees (source). The value of internships is only going to continue to increase. The fact that you might be able to get a job out of it would be even better. But how do you do that? Today I’m going to share some tips for how you can change your internship into a job.
#1 Choose the Right Internship
I know it sounds silly, but I had to include this as a point. Choosing the right internship makes such a huge difference in the experience you have. When you’re starting to apply for internships, always research the experience of former interns. When I interned at LOOK magazine, I came across girls who had blogged about their experience there. They were all positive, and their recommendations made me decide to go for it. And they didn’t lie. It might be hard to find someone at first, but with a bit of hard research, you’ll get there. There’s no harm in popping them an email or sending them a tweet either. The more prepared you are, the more you can get out of your internship.
When you’re in the internship, try to picture yourself working at this company. Ask yourself if you could see yourself here for a long amount of time. Could you make a mark here? Grow up the career ladder here? You want to make sure you’re making the right choices for you.
#2 Connect with People
For naturally confident people, internships can sometimes be easier to start. For the shy people out there, it means we have to work a little harder. It’s a harsh truth, but one of the worst things an intern can do is be shy. My advice would be to get to know as many people as you can. Talk to the people on your team, the people on other teams, your seniors – everyone you come across. And definitely get talking to the other interns. Sometimes it can be difficult. At LOOK, each department was on a different table with a different intern. I was with the Features team so it was difficult for me to interact with other interns. But you can make a brew and talk to people or ask them if they need any help when you run out of jobs to do.
If someone invites you to lunch or there’s an after-work event that your colleagues go to, go with them. This is where you will bond more with them and build your relationships. Remember these people are going to write your reference and recommend you for positions.
The simplest thing to do if you find this difficult is to go to lunch and sit with them. It’ll be hard at first, but you’ll soon start to build up your own little network. The more people you know, the more opportunities you welcome to come your way.
I would also really recommend that you find a mentor if you can. Recently, I wrote a post on “Why You Need Career Goals & A Mentor”. This person is not only a part of your network. They can help you set goals and achieve them. They can follow you along your journey by being a guide. A mentor can be the biggest help in turning your internship into a job.
#3 Ask Questions and Write Everything down
When you’re doing an internship, you and your notebook need to be inseparable. Two of the biggest things I’ve been taught are: always write everything down and ask the stupid questions. When you’re being given a task to do, write everything down that you’re being told. If anything is unclear or you’re not sure of something, please ask. Your colleague will not mind that you’re asking questions. In fact, they’re more likely to appreciate it because you’re taking initiative. It shows you want to get the task right and that you want to achieve the best you can.
Your notebook is your bible for while you’re at this company. In mine, I wrote down the route to the office, email addresses, names, descriptions – everything. If you have to sketch out a mini floor plan of the office, do it! everything you’re told and everything you hear that’s interesting you should write down.
If you go over to your colleague's desk to tell them you’ve done something, don’t forget your notebook. Chances are, they’ll ask you to do something else. You don’t want to forget what they tell you.
#4 Look out for Opportunities
During internships, opportunities are everywhere. You never know what could crop up when you’re there. Just two weeks before I started my internship at LOOK, a couple of the One Direction boys were in the office. When I was there, I saw models walking in and out of the office daily. It’s unbelievable how varied your days will be and how many different people you’ll come across.
Hopefully you’ll be given a lot to do. But there will be times when you won’t have anything to do. But that doesn’t mean you can’t find something to do. Try and keep busy as much as you can. If you finish the tasks that you’ve been given, ask for more, or ask someone else if they need help. Chances are they’ll say yes. Internships are all about using initiative. You can show the company that you're capable of succeeding in a full-time job here. Plus, it shows that you have a really strong work ethic.
#5 Do More than What Is Expected of You
Whenever you get given a project to do, think about how you can do it to the best of your ability. Go the extra mile when you complete it. It’s like writing a blog post – what can you do to make it better? Do more research, find those extra few quotes that would make your article even better. Present different options. Don’t be afraid to bring your ideas to the table. This all shows that you’re passionate about what you’re doing. You're proving not only that you can do a job. But that you can do it well.
An internship is about showing your willingness to go beyond what has been asked of you. But remember that it’s also about doing what is asked of you. At my internship with LOOK, I had to get rid of the previous week’s newspapers and put the ones from the weekend in order. My hands were black afterwards. But I did it because I was asked and it gave me a chance to speak to people while I did it. No matter what task you’re given, work hard and make the most out of what you’ve been given to do. You’re always watched as an intern. If you look bored doing a job, we all know that doesn’t give a good impression. But doing a job well means you’re going the extra mile to turning your internship into a job.
Something I hear about internships is that employers will notice those people that come in early and stay late. But I’m not sure I agree with that. If an intern can work hard and achieve everything they want to within work hours that’s fine. Interns shouldn’t be made to feel they have to come in half an hour early and leave half an hour late. That’s not a good life habit to get into. I believe professionalism comes with the job. We all know that getting in at 9am when you start at 9am is a bit risky. But getting in at ten to is fine. I don’t think we should have to prove ourselves through the hours we work. It’s what we do in that time that matters the most.
I’ve just got a couple more pieces of advice before I round this post off. The first is to ask for feedback. Evaluate what went well in your first week and what can improve in the second week. They’ll appreciate your honestly and will devote more important tasks to you. Secondly, try to keep in touch after your internship. A girl at LOOK got a job there through staying in touch with the people she did her internship with. They asked her back and it turned into a job. If she can do it, there’s no reason why you can’t.
I'd love to know, do you have any other tips? Have you every turned an internship into a job?
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