For a lot of us, graduating from college was the easy part — it was finding a job afterward that made us wish we could start freshman year all over again. This stage of life is an unfortunate time that every postgraduate must endure. If you weren't given a trust fund or poached by recruiters, then you know this "rite of passage" all too well. Searching the web for hours on end, connecting on LinkedIn, and completing countless applications without any response becomes your daily routine.
I went through the same experience after I graduated college. Even with four internships under my belt, I had no idea just how competitive the job market was. I realized that the best way to get my foot in the door was to expand my search. I started looking for internships (that would accept recent graduates) with the hope it could lead to a job offer. Lucky for me, it did!
Here are 10 tips on how to turn your internship into a job:
- Make friends: It's tough to be new in the office, especially if you're an intern. That's why it's so important to put yourself out there and get to know your co-workers. Take an extra trip to the water cooler or bathroom — the more people you meet in these communal spaces, the better. Here are some conversation starters! Another great way to mingle with new co-workers is to join in on any company events. Go to happy hours, game nights, and other office get-togethers to show your fun side.
- Be professional: Just because you are one of the youngest in the office doesn't mean you have to act that way. Stay professional, and show that you are mature. You can still crack jokes and have fun; just avoid talking about getting drunk with your friends every weekend. If your co-workers view you as responsible, then they will trust you with more projects.
- Ask the right questions: After you receive an assignment, don't be afraid to ask for clarification if the directions are unclear. You want to avoid completing a task incorrectly because you were too nervous to ask questions. However, try not to bother your manager with tons of obvious questions if the answer can be found on the Internet or an office training manual. You don't want them to regret giving you the project when they could have done it themselves in the first place.
- Go above and beyond: Although this might seem like a given, you should always do more than what is expected of you. Prove yourself as hungry to learn more, take on extra work, and get the most out of your experience. If you find yourself checking Facebook in your downtime, then think about how you can better utilize your time.
- Work with everyone: Work with people other than your direct supervisors or other interns. You should try to support as many people in the office as you can. If your managers are thinking about hiring you full-time, they will probably ask around the office to get feedback from other employees. This is where interacting with different people in the office can work to your benefit — they can vouch for your hard work.
- Assess the office culture: Every company has a unique office culture. Figure out the culture, and try your best to assimilate. If your colleagues are quiet and work long hours, you shouldn't play your music out loud and leave early every day. If you find yourself unhappy with the office culture, don't force it. The company is probably the wrong fit in that case, and you should pursue other options.
- Ask for feedback: After about a month into your internship, ask for feedback about your performance. Being open to advice on how to improve shows you are mature enough to take constructive criticism and that you genuinely want to grow professionally. This will signal to your manager that you are invested in the company's overall success as well as your own.
- Express your goals: After you ask for feedback, you should also be upfront about your goals at the company. If you express early on that you wish to be hired full-time, then your managers will have you in the back of their heads when a position opens up.
- Figure out timing: Timing is everything. Keep an eye out to see if any full-time positions might open up. If there are not any spots available, then make sure to leave on good terms. When a position does open up at the company, your manager will want to hire you instead of someone she's never worked with before.
- Stay flexible: If you love the company and a position opens up, jump on the opportunity! Even if the job description is not what you pictured for yourself, be open to all possibilities. And who knows? The position could be something you really enjoy.
Even though this postgrad uncertainty can be stressful, try to remind yourself that everything will work out! If you follow all the advice from above, you will be in good shape for a full-time position. And if you don't get hired, it's not the end of the world. There are other opportunities that might be even better than you could have imagined. So take a deep breath, and embrace the journey.