Let’s just admit it. Interns have received a bad rap in recent years. Professional internships can offer excellent hands-on experience and wonderful opportunities for on-the-job training. A qualified intern can build helpful professional relationships, references and even career results.
Generally, interns are willing to work for limited or no pay, at least for a specified amount of time, just to gain experience, career networking, and technical know-how. During the internship period, they are able to gain valuable skills, polish their professionalism and forge important business contacts. At the same time, they can build their resume and gain essential professional references!
Still, internships are designed for a predetermined duration. What can an intern do to expand this position into a career opportunity?
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As an intern, in nearly any profession, you simply have to play your cards right! If you enjoy your internship, and you desire to transform this temporary position into a permanent paid position, you will have to possess certain professional characteristics that will appeal to your employer.
Consider these 10 tactics for transforming a professional internship into a permanent job.
1. Apply an appropriate appearance.
Like it or not, first impressions count for a lot, particularly in the marketplace. From the very first introductions and interview, your professional appearance is important. Even if you are applying for an unpaid entry-level internship, you will want to show your best self. Dress for the part, exercise executive-level courtesy, speak clearly and correctly, and be on your best behavior – every single day.
Torn jeans, flimsy flip-flops, chat-room chatter, and sloppy speech have no place in the workplace, particularly for those who wish to last.
2. Abound in good attitude.
A cheerful demeanor and helpful attitude can actually jump-start a professional career. If you are willing to show up with a smile and do your best to accomplish everything your internship requires, then you are most likely to succeed.
Courtesy and friendliness to your coworkers also pays off. Your employer will notice, if you can get along with other people and work cooperatively. Your ability to manage and handle conflicts and your adeptness at dealing with high pressure situations will also serve you well.
Remember, an internship is a job, whether it is paid or not. As such, it pays to take it seriously.
3. Assess your attendance.
Whether you punch a time clock or simply show up, your punctuality and presence do count. Unpaid interns and those receiving small stipends simply cannot regard attendance flippantly. If you demonstrate reliability as an intern, your employer will be more likely to look at you realistically as a long-term candidate. If the boss can count on you, then he or she is more likely to want to count you in – in the long run.
4. Adopt attentiveness.
Often, but not always, interns tend to be younger adults, who are trying out their professional wings. Occasionally, a more seasoned worker may take on an internship to establish qualifications in a new field. In either case, a successful intern will try to be open-minded and willing to learn. After all, that’s why you are there! If you already knew the ropes, you would not need the internship at all.
Practicing active listening skills and paying attention to supervisors and coworkers can pay enormous dividends for an intern. During professional evaluations and reviews, this is where an intern or entry-level employee can score huge points. If you possess a teachable spirit, you are more likely to be mentored by your professional superiors. Trainable employees are extremely valuable to employers!
Paying careful attention at work can also yield a fairly straightforward dividend. Employers often post job openings in-house. Keep your eyes and ears open for opportunities to which you might apply your skill set.
5. Accentuate your own abilities.
Internships are on-site testing grounds for beginning professionals. Here is where you can try out and demonstrate your skills and abilities. Talent shows, and it counts for everything! Simply put, if you are good at what you do, your employer will value your contributions.
When your internship ends, you will want to be an employee worth keeping, who merits a worthwhile salary.
6. Account for your accomplishments.
Far too many interns look at their temporary tenures as if they were an academic term or a course to be endured and completed. May it not be so!
If you truly wish to boost your professional career, you will regard your internship as a proving point, where you can demonstrate your capabilities and make your first mark in the professional world.
Be sure to document your accomplishments, so you can be credited for them during evaluation times. Keep copies of praiseworthy memos and emails, and make sure your professional superiors see them. Bring your proofs with you, when you meet with your supervisor, to back up your request for an extended position.
7. Acknowledge accountability.
Folks often think of accountability as an authoritative checkpoint or restriction. In a sense, it is. Interns who are willing to respect authority, at least within the organizational structure, will offend fewer business bigwigs and avoid many professional pitfalls.
However, the flip side may also be true. As an intern, accountability can also help you to receive credit for your own successes and avoid blame for others’ shortcomings or failures.
This is especially important in organizations with large internship programs, where you will have to make your own mark and separate yourself from a whole flock of trainees.
Either way, accountability can help you, if you are a talented and hard-working intern. The Lone Ranger approach to corporate work helps no one, particularly a beginning intern.
9. Announce your availability.
This may sound fairly obvious, but it’s not. If you wish to extend your internship into full-time professional employment, you will need to make yourself available to your employer. Does your boss know that you actually desire a permanent position within his or her employ?
As the end of your professional internship draws near, if you really want to continue working for your employer, then you must meet with your boss face to face and ask for the job.
After all, what is the worst response you might receive? What if your boss cannot financially justify another head count? You can certainly follow up with a request that he or she might offer you a professional reference and possibly a few job leads and contacts to pursue, as you leave.
That, too, gives you a head start for the future!
10. Aiming high.
Request an interview. Then ace that interview, and ask for the job.
10 ways to transform a professional internship into a permanent job
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