That said, if your goal is to turn a temporary internship or co-op into an entry-level full-time job, we have some advice to share with you.
First, if you want them to take you seriously as a potential employee, treat that internship seriously. Stay focused, man! Alex Taylor, Vice President of University Relations at Bank of America told Forbes.com: “Treat it as a 10- to 12-week job interview.”
That includes showing up on the first day of the internship a little more dressed up than usual. Being overdressed is never frowned upon in work environments (unless you look like Craig Sager from TNT basketball), but being under dressed sure is. After the first day, take your dressing cues from senior level colleagues at the company. We suggest that you dress for the position you aspire to have, not the position that you currently have. The better you adapt to office culture at your internship the better your employment chances look. .
As for the position itself, perform your duties with enthusiasm, ask for clarity on what you don’t know (you’re expected not to know), and have a sense of urgency to each requested task (everything is needed yesterday). Even if you’re copying papers half of the day and losing money because the gig is unpaid and bus fair isn’t, make those copies with lots of energy and with the biggest grin on your face.
Show your supervisor and other staff watching you (trust, they’re checking you out) that you mean business and more importantly, you mean to get a job at that company. Ask serious questions, ask for more work, and offer your assistance at all times. Serious interns heighten their chances of becoming employees. Silly interns, cry themselves to sleep once their parent’s start asking why you haven’t moved out of their house yet. Kidding,…maybe.
Note that in many cases you might have to go the extra mile in order to prove your worth, this includes everything from extreme multi-tasking to potentially even a cheesecake run, as Diddy so eloquently showed the world in the hit MTV show “Making the Band”. As former intern Anne Bennett explained to Monster.com: “I tried to get involved in everything, and I was here as much as I could be. I was only scheduled to work 20 hours a week, but I worked, on average, approximately 30 hours per week.”
And while we encourage you to show employers that you want to stick around, we challenge you to tell them that, too. Let those you work with know that you enjoy your internship and that you would love to continue working with the company once your internship obligations are fulfilled. Just don’t become irritating about it, though. Make it known but don’t make it annoying. The art of tolerable persistence is a critical asset for any job seeking intern. Annoying interns don’t get hired: They get written up in their final report at the end of their position.
Before your internship ends, get your colleagues’ contact information and send thank-you notes (see our previous article “Money in the Thank”) to them. Continue networking with them via casual e-mails. Ask how they’re doing and what interesting projects they’re working on. Keep those relationships alive because when it comes to employment, it’s definitely who you know, not just what you know.
So, throw mom and pop’s the deuce, there’s a million ways to get it, choose one. Urban Professor is on to the next one.