Congratulations! You’ve put in the work, sent out dozens of applications, and landed an internship that you love.
Now you can shift your focus to networking with new people and developing important skills for your resume. Maybe when it all wraps up, you’ll even secure a letter of recommendation from a mentor to help you with future opportunities.
But what if you don’t want it to end?
You like the mission of the company, the work you’re doing, your co-workers, and the confident professional you’re evolving into.
So, what are the steps that you need to take in order to upgrade your position at this company?
Here are some best practices on how to hit that sweet spot at your internship and get promoted to a full-time employee:
1. Take initiative
Let’s be real: you already know that tapping through Instagram stories all day at your desk isn't going to secure you that golden ticket to full-time employment.
Sure, there might be down time here and there, but choosing to take the reigns on your own is a sure fire way of differentiating yourself from others. Why not run that extra report or commit yourself to another hour in the office if you have the bandwidth for it? When you're coming into work each day hyped up with tangible goals in mind, people will start to take notice.
Volunteer to help with other projects if you have the means to, and communicate that you feel like you're ready to help all sides of the team. Not only does this help out more people, but you're also showing that you can play a key role in supporting different sides of the business. Helping out other departments bolsters your portfolio and encourages others to want to vouch for you when it matters.
Optimize your time and work how you know best, efficiently.
2. Stay curious and ask questions
Nothing says you care about your company like curiosity about other sides of the business and how they work.
In your meetings with your manager, it doesn't hurt to prepare a few questions that don't directly have to do with the work that you're tasked with. Some examples could be: things you wonder about the company culture, other departments, or any others you might have that span wider.
You could ask about company best practices or the projects that other people are working on in their respective departments. Maybe think about the company's goals for that quarter and ask why they've decided to go down that path.
Become invested in the projects that other people are working on and try to connect them to the things on your plate.
3. Log your accomplishments and projects
If journaling is a therapeutic way to remember what happened to you a particular day, why not translate that into your work to keep track of your wins?
Most internships last a semester or a season, beginning at the start of summer, fall, or your spring semester and lasting until the school break that follows. A lot of time passes during this period and it's helpful to log all the great things that you've done during that period of time—for both you and your manager.
If you have a document or spreadsheet of organized content, it's easier for the people you report to to make a good case for your full-time offer. Quantifying your worth means you'll have both a personal log for yourself and a stronger argument in favor of your promotion. Plus, having a robust list of tangible accomplishments will beef up your resume or portfolio even if your internship doesn’t translate into a full-time position.
4. Build office relationships & find mentorship early on
Even if you've just started at your position, make sure that one of the first things you do is schedule weekly one-on-one meetings with your manager(s) and make them meaningful.
When there's ongoing conversation, it's as if you're building any other relationship you think is important—be it friends or someone you're interested in romantically. If you're pursuing it seriously then you're going to want to be able to communicate your interests, wins, struggles, and hopes on a regular basis.
"I firmly believe that the reason that I was the only intern that my law office asked to come back to work full-time is because of the positive and engaging attitude I had during my internship. Whenever I met with my bosses, I told them how much my work interested me."
Christina Plakas, Hamilton College
Whether it's asking for a coffee chat or linking up for lunch, don't be afraid to talk to your bosses or co-workers. They hired you for a reason and they want you to succeed.
Something about your experience or interview convinced them that out of all the people they met, you would be the best fit for their internship. Imposter syndrome can feel very real, but don't let that stop you from creating lasting relationships when you've been doing such great work already. You deserve to be there—networking, growing, learning.
Put effort and time into sitting with your other co-workers at lunch or in the break room. Just being friendly in general or throwing a smile here and there can go a long way. It can seem intimidating to strike up conversation with someone 5, 10, or even 20 plus years into their career. But your co-workers all understand what it's like to start fresh at a job. They want to help you succeed and see you grow. And if you put yourself out there, those people can become your biggest cheerleaders.
Though it may appear so, the road to full-time shouldn't have to be a lonely one. Take these practices, implement them where you see fit and embark on your career journey now.