How to Turn a Summer Internship into a Full-Time Job

If you want to make your summer job count towards your professional future, few opportunities are better than a summer internship.

Internships are available all over the place, including with companies as big as Google and The New York Times. If you play your cards right, these internships could land you a dream job after graduation.

So if you’ve lucked out and landed a great summer internship with a company you want to work for down the road, fostering a longtime relationship is priority number one.

It all starts by adapting to the professional world…which can be tricky when you’re used to living in a dorm and running on a student schedule. Below are some dos and don’ts to help you in successfully navigating the world of the professional summer internship and up your odds of turning internship into a full-time job offer.

Do… be on time! You should always show up about ten minutes before you are scheduled to start work. This gives you time to say hello, turn on your computer and do whatever you need to do to get ready for the day. Flying in the door at the last minute says you are not ready to handle full time job responsibilities.

Do… dress well. No jeans, no short skirts. Iron your shirt and for the love of corporate America, shower every day before work. Make sure you know the office dress code and go the extra mile. People don’t always notice when you are dressed professionally, but they do notice when you are not dressed professionally!

(Hint: Dress well even if your office has a casual dress code and the CEO wears flip flops to work. Dressing well at work sends others a message that you take your work seriously and you want to go places.)

Do… take an interest in your work. Show your boss that you want to be at work! Ask questions about the company and share your goals. Part of an internship is learning about the business, so don’t be afraid to express interest in all parts of the company. The more you learn now, the more valuable you will be in the future.

Do not… come into work with a hangover. Unless you have an internship as pledge master with Phi Beta Gama, this is not a frat party. College is a far cry from real life. If you’re over 21 and are invited out for drinks after work with colleagues, give yourself a two drink maximum. If you’re under 21, don’t touch an alcoholic beverage at a work related function even if it’s offered. It shows immaturity and puts your employer at risk.

Do not… gossip or share details about your personal life. There are no friends in business. Although there are many companies out there that are run by wonderful, caring and supportive people, the first few months of a job are best spent lying low. Listen attentively, do your work and learn all that you can. Remember, this is a summer internship and office politics are not part of the game plan. Stay away from gossip and from dating a colleague! If you like the company and want a future with them, you have to act professional from the first day you walk in the door.

If you act professional and complete your internship successfully, your chances of being invited back are good, but there’s one more step:

Do… stay in touch. Be sure to stay in touch with your internship supervisor throughout the school year, and make plans for the next summer as far in advance as possible. Internships are a great way for companies to hire recent college graduates on a full time basis, so make sure you do everything that you can to secure your future while you have the chance!

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  1. Network even outside the group you’re working on. Make yourself visible to not only your manager but to his manager and everyone at that level. Don’t alienate yourself from your colleagues. Grab them for lunch once or twice a week. At the end of the internship, you want to leave a good impression on them and leave with at least one or two projects accomplished that the group can use after you left.

  2. I disagree with “Do… dress well” to an extent. It is important to look presentable but having done several co-ops and internships for large computer companies (which currently lead to the software engineering job I have today) wearing button up shirts will likely lead to you being labeled and decrease your number of opportunities for networking. A better suggestion is take a quick survey of what everyone at work wears and up that by one. Example, if everyone wears t-shirts to work, maybe wear a nicer t-shirt or polo. If everyone wears shorts to work, wear presentable jeans. That way coworkers will see you as someone who fits into their culture rather than someone who is striving to exist outside of it (and their feedback goes a long way toward getting hired). The rest of list looks good, networking (all that that entails) and having positive “can do” attitude will get you very far.

  3. One other tip that I would add is
    Do…take initiative! Employers will greatly appreciate if you approach your work with a proactive mentality. If you run into a problem try to come up with possible solutions before asking for help. This shows that you have the ability to think critically.

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