As the end to spring term of my junior year draws near, I am faced with the realization that the beginning of my professional life is upon me. I have one year left to repeatedly sing the phrase “I love college” until I am released into the “real world.” In preparation for this transition, I decided to get an internship with a public relations agency for the summer. I assumed that finding a position would be easy enough: I couldn’t have been more wrong. People are resorting to internships because of the horrific job market. I decided that I would write about turning an internship into a full-time position for all of the soon-to-be graduates.
MAKE A GOOD IMPRESSION
As an intern, it is your responsibility to show your supervisor that you deserve to be there and you have what it takes, both personally and professionally, to fit in with the fast-paced environment.
I was asked by my soon-to-be supervisor to identify goals that I want to accomplish during my summer internship. I think this is a great way to improve skills and gain experience in a variety of areas. Also, it lets your co-workers know what projects to include you in on to help you achieve your goals. Internships are designed to prepare students for future jobs and careers.
Once you have identified your responsibilities and you understand what is expected, demonstrate your initiatives and your ability to work both independently and as part of a team. Developing connections while you are still in school will give you a jump start in developing a professional network. Once you develop a strong networking group, you can develop a better sense of what it takes to thrive in the industry.
BUILD A STRONG WORK ETHIC
Let the office know that you can get the work done at all costs. Remaining positive will give your employer assurance that you will become a valuable member of the team if hired as an employee. Not every aspect of your dream job is going to be glamorous, especially in the first few years after college, but hang in there.
Talking with employers about your performance opens opportunities for improvement. Feedback and input can be crucial in helping you to improve your job performance. It also lets the company know that you care about your performance and that you value their opinion.
DEAL WITH THE GRUNT WORK
When you first start, your employer will confront you with tedious tasks: deal with it. Once your employer trusts that you can handle more responsibility, you will be able to work on more challenging projects. Make sure you demonstrate that you can handle the small stuff first, or you might not receive the more challenging projects.
Illustrating your interest in developing new knowledge and skills relevant to the position will boost your employer’s confidence in your willingness and initiative to do a good job. Attend field-related seminars offered in or around your city; it will improve your knowledge of the business and show your coworkers you are serious about your professional life. Also, join a professional association if possible. They provide an excellent opportunity to meet people currently working in the field.
GO ABOVE AND BEYOND
If you do not have enough work to do be sure to check with your supervisor to see if there is something you can do. There will always be more work, so don’t be afraid to ask. Don’t wait around for projects, be proactive and ask if anyone needs help or has an extra project you can work on.
FIND A MENTOR
Having a mentor will help to make the internship experience less stressful. A mentor can provide you with someone to learn from and a place to get your questions answered. Seek out someone you trust and don’t be afraid to ask questions on ways you can improve your performance.
WORDS OF ENCOURAGEMENT
The first few years after college are going to be tough. Stay positive. Employers know that this is a difficult time, so prove yourself and don’t get discouraged. People are more willing to help than you think; ask for help when needed. If you show initiative and interest in the company, you have a better chance of turning the internship into a career.
Good luck, and congratulations to the graduating class of 2009.