Sarah Kauss, founder and CEO of S'well

Managers can almost always determine who is passionate about what they do versus who is simply there to take home a paycheck.

By Sarah Kauss
July 1, 2015

MPW Insider is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: How can you turn an internship into a full-time job? is written by Sarah Kauss, founder and CEO of S’well.

Times have changed since I was in school. There wasn’t so much riding on the number of internships you did or what you accomplished during them. You’d go to work after class, do what you were told, and leave at the end of the term with a bit of a flourish. But in today’s world, internships have turned into something much more than experiences to put on your resume.

Internships have become a gateway for students, recent graduates, and professionals in career transitions to embark upon new networks and full-time positions that may otherwise be elusive. For all involved, they help with making informed decisions about talent and career moves, whittling down what skills are needed from a prospective hire or what type of position and tasks will feed happiness in the workplace.

S’well is no exception. Internships are an important part of our growth strategy and culture. We have a great group of interns working for us now and about 25% of all of our current employees started in this role.

So for those of you currently in the perfect internship with potential for the perfect, full-time job, take these simple steps to earn that permanent position:

Get your hands dirty
Don’t be afraid to take on a project that others have no interest in doing. Many companies, especially startups, have employees who wear many hats. Sometimes certain functions (that larger companies take for granted) are often overlooked when other matters take center stage. Interns can keep the entire team afloat by leaning in to fill the gaps. By committing to tasks like these, you not only gain the opportunity for even more hands-on experience, but also prove your hunger to learn as much as you can about the business.

Find your voice
Sometimes going unnoticed is an easy to-do as an intern, especially at larger organizations. But in order to be successful, it is vital to be heard. Confidence is key here. Look for ways to chime in where your colleagues would least expect it. Speak up during all-staff meetings, share a relevant piece of news in your morning team huddle, or offer a couple of ideas on how to solve a team challenge. It won’t go unnoticed.

Embrace opportunity
You may think starting at the bottom of the totem pole as an intern sounds lowly, but it actually has its advantages. For one thing, there is less risk for failure. Management expectations will inevitably be different for you than a full-time employee, so take on reach assignments that give you the opportunity to grow. By adding these projects to your intern duties, you provide a snapshot of what working with you full time could look like for the company.

Share passions
A great intern will willingly share the skills he or she brings to the table. Even if they seem irrelevant to the projects at hand, there just might be a way to utilize them at work. Do you love to organize? Are you a fantastic artist? Let your managers know and suggest ways to integrate these abilities into your daily routine. You may land a job that plays to your strengths and to your passions.

Show your enthusiasm
Managers can almost always determine who is passionate about what they do versus who is simply there to take home a paycheck. The enthusiastic folks tend to ask questions about their assignments, get involved beyond the intern duties — think cultural outings and team brainstorms — and aren’t afraid to stay at the office until the job is done right. As an employer, I love to see this energy with my interns. It’s clear that they don’t just want a job, they want a career.

With all of this in mind, be fearless. Demand the best of yourself. Seek out every opportunity. Exude a boundless energy and speak up. It takes more than skill to turn a two-month internship into a full-time gig. It takes proving your potential.

Read all answers to the MPW Insider question: How can you turn an internship into a full-time job?

4 ways to leave a lasting impression at your summer internship by Spencer Rascoff, CEO of Zillow Group

College doesn’t prepare students for full-time jobs—internships do by Ryan Smith, CEO and founder of Qualtrics.

How to be a killer intern (and land a job) by Kevin Chou, co-founder and CEO of Kabam.

6 tips to get the most out of your internship by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

3 ways to turn your internship into a full-time job by Dan Rosensweig, CEO of Chegg.

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