Your 5-Point Strategy to Go From Intern to Employee

Since the moment you were offered the internship, getting full-time employment as the next step has been front and center of your current career goal.

If you want to actualize that goal, you’ll need to equip yourself with these five strategies to help you transition from rockin’ intern to rock star employee.

1. Show that you fit in

Take time in the beginning of your internship to meet as many people (and in as many departments) as possible, and observe the culture and practices of the workplace. Pay special attention to the way current high-performing employees dress, how early they arrive to meetings, how they interact with each other, and pace their work efforts.

If you can successfully mirror and integrate these employees' behaviors and how they present themselves, your supervisor and co-workers may eventually see you as an employee who’s part of the team, rather than "just" an intern.

2. Make yourself indispensable

It's often said that hard work is the key to success. Although hard work is appreciated, your internship supervisor and co-workers are more concerned with getting results.

Make it your goal to work smarter (rather than harder per se) by making yourself indispensable. Volunteer for tasks that will help employees increase productivity. Identify procedures and tasks that you could organize to improve efficiency. You could even offer to write or design a training guide for future interns. Whatever you choose to do, get approval, do your research, and keep detailed records of how these projects relate to productivity and other outcomes.

3. Establish and use your network

Professional relationship-building is a skill that's just as important as your work experience, knowledge, and abilities. An intern who has established meaningful workplace relationships signals interpersonal skills and is likely to have many options for good job references. Find co-workers in positions that interest you, and invite them to lunch to discuss their experiences. People love talking about themselves, so focus on their experiences and how they got the job. As your relationships mature, make sure that everyone knows you've enjoyed your internship experience, and are looking for an opportunity to do similar work as an employee rather than as an intern.

4. Seek out negative feedback

Don't rest on your laurels. Your internship manager is very busy and may put off discussions about your areas of growth until you make a noticeable blunder. Specifically ask for feedback and show that you are taking the time to effectively improve your performance.

This signals that you are capable of being managed and won't be an additional source of stress for your manager. Employees' performance improvements often signal manager effectiveness, so your improvements will also boost your internship manager's reputation — which will give you bonus points!

5. Make the ask, and be persistent

You almost certainly will not be presented with a job offer if you don't ask for it, so be prepared to make the case for yourself if an opportunity is available. Your goal is to persuade your internship manager that they will get a return on investment if they hire you. Keep track of your accomplishments. Cite specific instances of your effectiveness as an intern. Jog your manager's memory by including as many events that he or she may have witnessed as possible. Bonus points if you can convey this information in the language of dollars and cents!

However, understand that an opportunity may not be available. If that’s the case, stay in regular contact with your internship manager in case an opening becomes available in the future.

Besides, whether or not get the full-time gig, you gained valuable experience and began to build your network. That’s huge progress in anyone's book!

Sources:

Aldman, S. (2012, July). Odds are your internship will get you a job. Forbes. Retrieved June 5th, 2014, from Forbes.

Green, A. (2011, January). 10 tips for getting the most out of your internship. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved May 29th, 2014, from U.S. News and World Report.

Green, A. (2014, April). Eight things that managers wished incoming interns knew about the working world. U.S. News and World Report. Retrieved from U.S. News and World Report.

Harris, P. (2013, August). Network your way into the hidden job market (before you really need to). Workopolis. Retrieved June 5th, 2014, from Workopolis.

Taylor, J. M., Jenkins, J. S., & Barber, L. K. (2013, October). Breaking bad (news): Some constructive criticisms of performance feedback. APA Center for Organizational Excellence Good Company Newsletter. Retrieved May 29th, 2014, from APA Center for Organizational Excellence.