While others are lazing their days away at the beach, you’ve been putting in overtime at your summertime internship. And aside from being rich with learning lessons, great industry connections, and hopefully free snacks, you want to walk away from this experience with something meaningful. Preferably something that involves a 401(k) and health insurance. That’s right, you’re after that full-time job offer.
Sure, hiring is often a lottery—hugely based on being at the right place at the right time with the right connections, TBQH—but there are certainly things that can be done to increase your chances. From being a proactive employee to exploring your options, we dipped into our archives for some of the best tried-and-true internship advice that’ll get you hired before the leaves turn. All your hard work will pay off in one way or another, but here’s how to get one step closer to your dream job.
This is how you get that full-time job offer
1. Don’t wait around for something to happen
Starting a new internship can be daunting. But once you’ve settled in and gotten the lay of the land, do your best to take extra initiative when appropriate. It shows that you’re interested in the position. Also, even if you’re pretty sure you never want to work for the company full-time, many industries are small and well-networked. Building a good reputation now can only help you out down the line.
In the same vein, don’t be afraid to ask questions. Scratch that—ask tons of questions! And be proactive when it comes to your responsibilities; if you run out of work, feel free to ask for the next assignment and see where you can offer assistance. A little effort goes a long way. Imagine how far putting in 100% will take you.
2. Ask to shadow someone
If you’re interested in a different department than the one you’re interning in now, reach out and ask if you can shadow someone from that department for a few days or weeks. They might say no, but they might say yes—and it never hurts to ask. You won’t get the full internship experience, but in a temporary role, you’ll be able to understand the broad strokes of the sector, make connections, and show off how amazing you are.
3. Demonstrate your ability to learn, above all else
Companies need people who know things on day one and can hone their skills on day 30, day 90 and day 365. As an intern, you get the opportunity to prove how quickly you can pick things up and how efficient you can be.
Mark Hoplamazian, CEO of Hyatt Hotels, says, “We hire more for personality and growth mindset than specific skill set. We believe curiosity, passion and a love of learning together can be greater than a person’s previous experience. Care comes from a place of empathy and understanding—traits you can’t learn from a book but that produce better results.”
4. Be social…but don’t be drunk
Arguably the hardest part about starting a new job is meeting people and making friends in the office. Some companies make this first day of school mentality easier by organizing office sports teams and hosting team happy hours, but don’t forget that you’re still with an intern (vying for a full-time position, no less) when you’re attending these events. In college, the easiest way to make friends is drunk bonding in the bar bathroom with 13 of your closest sorority sisters. In the real world, being a social butterfly and saying something inappropriate to your boss are very different things. No one thinks they’ll ~ever~ be that person, but after a few cocktails you just might become that person!
5. Remember that there are alternatives
There are other ways to work towards a dream career. Dr. Heather Berg, a labor expert at the University of Southern California, says you need to ask yourself: “Is there another way you can get this experience without undertaking unpaid work?” She has some specific tips, too.
One is autonomous work. For example, if you’re an artist, why not set up your own gallery space? You can even learn more doing work on your own. Another is expanding skillsets within your paid jobs. “Say you’re tutoring in an after school program,” she says, “you can offer up your services to manage their social media.”
You can also work for smaller organizations. Berg notes that “You might decide that major Hollywood corporations don’t need your unpaid time and you might instead give that to community news organizations, for example.” Or you might pursue freelance or contract work. “So many of our jobs are going to look more and more like freelance and contract work,” she says, “it is a good time to start young with setting boundaries around your time.”