In a Vault 2009 survey, 60 percent of career centers reported that more and more graduating students were accepting internships instead of full-time job offers. This year, that number is expected to grow, which should come as no surprise. A postgraduation internship is a great way to test drive a possible career path or industry--with no strings attached. If you realize halfway through the internship that it isn't for you, you only have a limited amount of time left before the internship is over and you can leave without ruining any of the relationships you've built while there.
Connie Thanasoulis, former Fortune 500 recruiter and co-founder of SixFigureStart, highly recommends postgrad internships: "Internships by their very nature are defined periods of time...If you can get an internship--do it!!" Your first job after college is a tremendous learning experience, so you should take the opportunity to consider paths you may not have otherwise considered. Internships are by definition meant to teach you about a particular industry or career, and the allow you to explore with the safety net of a set end date. A postgrad internship is the perfect time to take a career risk!
What if you love your internship and want to stay on full-time? How can you turn your internship into a full-time job? "If you love what you do, absolutely ask that [the internship] be extended," says Thanasoulis. "Have that conversation the minute you realize you want to stay on. Always tell your manager that you are enjoying the work--so have those open lines of communication--but make sure they are positive." Be sure to wait until you're sure you want to stay on before asking--I'd say about two to three weeks. If you ask about an extension or full-time on your first day, your manager may wonder about your reasoning because you're still learning about the company.
The best advice to turn your internship into a full-time gig is to do a "stellar job" on all your assignments, take initiative and show personal investment in your work, keep open communication with your manager(s), and above all stay positive. "Good positive attitudes and enthusiasm are so appreciated by managers," says Thanasoulis. "Show these qualities and they'll do whatever they can to retain you!"
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