During a bad economy, summer internships are more important than ever for those looking to obtain full-time employment. When the economy is weak, companies that want to hire turn to summer internships as a way to vet out potential candidates rather than having to go through the lengthy, expensive process attached to a normal job search.
What this means is that employers are watching their interns with greater interest than ever before. Schmoozing and hard work will get you far. Here are additional tips that will help you turn your summer internship into a full-time career.
Show a sincere interest in the firm and your work. When the firm has a lot of work, come in early and stay late, just like the regular employees. It shouldn’t matter if you are getting paid or not for your work. The summer internship is an investment into your career. The best way to get noticed is to show your employer that you can be relied upon to work hard until the job is done. Don’t be the person that just comes in at 9 a.m. and leaves at 5 p.m. – just another face in the crowd they don’t need. Keep that presence by attending any company events and reaching out to superiors for more work and opportunities. Be remembered for all the right reasons so they will remember you when it comes to hiring a new employee.
Sit at the senior table. Remember in high school, how cool it was to be allowed to hang out with the seniors? Senior management is important to your career hopes, too. They hold the key to your future. Find a way to speak to them, pick their brain and impress them with your work ethic. But remember - these people have been working at the company longer than you, so attempts to dazzle them with your unparalleled grasp of the industry may backfire on you. Simply express your opinion or interest in the work that you've been doing, ask questions, and talk about something else besides work. Remembering you as the bright young intern who seemed so interested in the Latin American operations and who liked to water-ski gives that higher-up two different pieces of positive information.
Don’t try to be the big man on campus. At the same time, don't be so zealous in schmoozing your supervisors and their supervisors that you ignore the junior people. Many workplaces will ask employees a year or two above you for their opinions on your performance and demeanor. Ignoring these potential future coworkers taint you as a brown-noser and may hurt your chances at the firm. Go out with them to lunch or take part in some after-work opportunities. The best way to gain their respect is through socialization. Whatever you do, don’t use this socialization as an opportunity to vent on things you do not like about the company. This won’t help you and could be used against you. Complaints should be left at home. Always be positive at work.
Always try to get the job. Even if you've decided that the summer internship isn't one you want to turn into a job, do your best to get a job offer. When you interview for permanent employment, you'll probably be asked whether or not you were asked to return to work at the place you interned at. This shows the company you want to work for that you were in demand. That’s what they want to see and it allows you to turn your summer internship into a full-time job somewhere else.