Times are tough for recent college grads seeking full-time jobs. More are accepting internships to get their careers off the ground. Some are even settling for unpaid internships with primo firms. So how do you turn your internship into a full-time paying gig?
Shoot for the Paid Internship
Many firms are very eager to hire unpaid interns. They get free labor, albeit inexperienced. If possible, try to get a paid internship. The odds are in your favor, it will turn into a full-time paying gig. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 63 percent of students with paid internships received job offers, but only 37 percent of students with an unpaid internship received a job offer.
Accept Tasks Cheerfully, Give 110%
Whether it’s an unpaid summer gig or six months of on the job training, don’t treat your internship like a passing phase or necessary evil. The best interns realize they’re under the microscope and perform 110 percent. “They treat an internship as a 10- to 12-week job interview,” says Alex Taylor, a human resources executive at Bank of America, in an article from Forbes. Adopt a positive attitude and show an eagerness to take on varied tasks. Don’t pout over menial tasks. “Not every task you’re going to do is something you’ll enjoy, but have the attitude that these are building blocks to your career,” adds Tom Musbach, a former Yahoo! producer and editor. “Once you show you can be trusted with small tasks, managers will give you more responsibility.”
If You Don’t Know, Ask
Don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand a task or its goals. You’re an intern, and you’re expected to ask questions. Demonstrate your ability to communicate with other interns, your boss, and clients. You may be great at texting and chatting on the phone, but face-to-face communication is a skill that must be practiced and learned. “This generation is used to communicating online and with short correspondence, but is generally not as effective in face-to-face situations and other forms of written communication,” says Alexa Hamill, lead recruiter at PricewaterhouseCoopers, in an article by MainStreet. “The ability to clearly articulate your point of view and create a connection is an important skill to have.”
Think, Clarify, Work
After accepting an assignment from your boss, go back to your desk and think it through. “Then go back to your manager the following morning and check your understanding of the challenge and how to best approach it,” says Chris Bierly, head of North American associate consultant recruiting at Bain & Company, in the article from Forbes. “It’s important to get out of the blocks fast, but first you want to make sure you’re holding the baton.”
If you’ve accepted an internship—paid or unpaid—give it your all. Ask and learn. And never say, “I’m just an intern,” to anyone who asks.
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