As the end of winter internship season quickly approaches, a looming sense of uncertainty exists—will the internship you snagged turn into full-time employment or will the job search resume in the spring?
Much like those contemplating this time of year, I logically had to ask myself this question and examine the possibilities of stable employment. My own metaphorical internship clock quickly began to tick closer and closer to an expiration date just as my time at college was reaching its conclusion. To offer some perspective, this August I graduated with an official COVID-stamped degree from George Mason University. I had, however, begun my internship with Highlight Technologies in January 2020 while using the remainder of the year to complete my courses.
I utilized those seven months interning not only to fulfill my basic duties, but to learn new programs, dip my hand in various projects, and invest my professional self into the company. The extra time and effort I spent during my internship certainly helped me develop my professional experience along the way and subsequently, I was given the opportunity to transition from an internship-level position into the Marketing and Communications Specialist position at Highlight the same month I graduated. I discovered that even during our nation’s current post-graduation period of uncertainty there are ways to utilize your internship experience and turn an unpredictable position into secure employment.
Here are some ways I broke out of the internship box and stepped into a stable position at Highlight:
· Rejecting an internship mindset and investing in permanent thinking not only makes you a useful asset, but a valuable resource for the company as you become more dependable and less disposable. As an intern, I exhibited this by having long-lasting goals at Highlight, expanding my skillset to benefit not only myself but the company, and by approaching the internship with a leadership mindset.
· Learn the ins and outs of the business. Demonstrate interest in how the company functions and how other departments depend on one another to operate efficiently.
· Be proactive with your manager. Continuous communication and responsiveness with your superior are essential to clearly complete required tasks and bridge a way to take on more serious, memorable, and relevant projects.
· Network within the company. Building connections is not only important when looking for a job, but for securing a job post-internship. Utilizing your internship to develop strong relationships helps establish trust between you and other employees and makes you more desirable to keep within the company long-term.
· Teach yourself new skills. Going beyond the list of task requirements and taking on additional courses and/or certifications solidifies that you are willing and able to take on new challenges as well as responsibilities. Do not be afraid to utilize the training opportunities offered inside and outside of your company. This could range from Google Analytics courses to HubSpot Academy SEO certifications to training programs offered at your place of work.
· Do not be afraid to ask about opportunities within the company. You will most likely not be handed a position, regardless of your work ethic or strengths. Taking the initiative to ask about available positions and/or potential openings shows how much you genuinely want to progress within the company.
Internships are a significant way to gain real-world experience; some argue college degrees cannot realistically provide such experiences when students are constrained to a controlled classroom environment. The impact of an internship as opposed to a classroom environment can be invaluable to your professional development, as my internship at Highlight was to mine.
I have learned that an internship is an investment. The more you invest, generally the higher your return will be. Consequently, it is not only about the amount you are investing (time, effort, energy, etc.), it is about how you invest. The number one way to invest yourself into a company and take advantage of potential opportunities is by turning away from short-term thinking and investing in long-term thinking.
How you invest your time and yourself during your internship is key to landing a future position within your company.