The MPW Insiders Network is an online community where the biggest names in business and beyond answer timely career and leadership questions. Today’s answer for: “What should every college intern know about succeeding in business?” is written by Gay Gaddis, CEO and founder of T3.
My company, T3, has hired hundreds of college interns through the years. They were the interns who really stood out. They had learned how to contribute above and beyond the ask, had recommendations from their college professors or other business leaders, and were persistent—but not pests—when wanting to get in the door for that first interview. Here are a few things to keep in mind when trying to turn an internship into a full-time job:
- Raise your hand
The human resources department should treat you like a full-time employee. If you’re just on the job floating around looking for things to do, it’s a waste of your time. Make sure you have a boss, and that you meet with her or him on a regular basis to see how you can improve and add more to the organization. And, if there are volunteer opportunities within the company—like picking up trash at a local park on a Saturday—jump on them. You’ll get to know team members in a more casual setting, which will help to build bonds, and your boss will be impressed that you want to give back and participate in an activity deemed important by the company, stating you aren’t afraid of “after hours.”
- Keep a list of your accomplishments and failures during the internship
Review them, learn from them, and incorporate the accomplishments into your resume. When looking for a full-time job, it’s always good to have metrics and numbers around what you were able to do while you served in your role as an intern. For example, if you were an intern at an animal shelter, you should list the number of pets that you helped treat and find homes for. Also, get your fellow employees to help you with your elevator pitch. Practice this so that the next time someone asks who you are, you’ll be prepared with a succinct, compelling answer.
- Know who you are
Take a personality profile assessment, like the Myers-Briggs Type assessment. Your company may give these, or you can do it on your own online. The sooner you understand your strengths and weaknesses and how you can best contribute to the team, the better. After all, that’s what internships are all about—finding what it is you enjoy and what you’re good at.
If you are enjoying your internship and can envision yourself working at the company, ask for a job. Hiring cycles may not be in your favor, so get ahead of the game and make your interests known. And if you have any flexibility around location or timing, that’s always a plus.
If there aren’t any immediate job openings, talk to HR and see if they can connect you to other companies that might appreciate and need your skills. Networking from day one is always a good idea.
Also, flexibility around the type of job you will accept is important if you are qualified for several different roles. Remember, you are entry level, so salary and job title expectations should be appropriate. Once you’re “in,” you can double down for that raise and promotion.