How to Turn Your Internship Into a Career


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Some people think that internships are a means to pad resumes, but the majority of college students take internships very seriously. In fact, it often influences their career path. It’s evident that many students want to turn their internships into a career, but only a few make that happen.

According 2015 report by Looksharp that surveyed more than 50,000 college graduates, 73 percent of college students consider opportunities for long-term career advancement crucial when searching for internships. Despite their interest, only 19.4 percent have already received a full-time offer.

Here are five ways you can transition from a part-time intern to full-time employee:

Clearly communicate

As an intern, it’s common to not speak up because you don’t want to overstep your boundaries. However, 85 percent of employers value students who have the ability to effectively communicate. In fact, effective communication is the number one skill employers look for in an intern, according to a survey of 400 employers and 613 college students, by Hart Research Associates in November, 2014.

If you want to get noticed, you have to step outside your comfort zone and talk to as many people as you can.

Whether it’s going out of your way to talk about projects with your employer or even asking advice from a more experienced employee, these conversations can sharpen your communication skills and show you have what it takes to land a job after your internship ends.

Even though speaking is the most important quality to employers, the ability to write well doesn’t fall far behind. In fact, 82 percent of employers said they value the ability to effectively communicate in writing.

Writing, rather than speaking to someone, doesn’t allow for the same inflection. However, many people underestimate the power of expressing your thoughts in words.

Be a team player

Companies are not successful because of one person, they are successful when the business functions as one cooperative team. That is why 83 percent of employers value soft skills like the ability to work effectively in teams.

Internships are tricky because you would think that to stand out among the interns, you have to perform well on your own. But not collaborating with others can give employers the wrong vibe.

Make it a point to ask for feedback from peers, bounce ideas off your team, and always lend a helping hand wherever you can. The fact that you put the success of the team before yourself shows that you are true leader.

Stay true to yourself

When it comes to internships, you may think you have to act a certain way depending on the company culture. However, acting like somebody you are not can cause you to make decisions that go against your values and work ethic. This can hurt you in the long run because 81 percent of employers value ethical judgment and decision-making.

When something happens in the office that you know is wrong, speak up and — appropriately — address the problem. Speaking your mind will show employers that you make decisions based on what is right, which is ultimately what they want to see.

Additionally, taking the reins when times get tough, fixing problems, and delegating tasks to others proves that you know how to take charge when push comes to shove.

Think outside the box

It is one thing to do what is asked of you — that’s expected — but it is another thing to go above and beyond. That is why 81 percent of employers in the Hart Research Associates survey said they highly value critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills.

Employers will tell you how to go about certain tasks. However, it’s up to you to push yourself to try more efficient ways of completing those tasks. Even if you fail, channeling your creativity shows you are an innovative worker with an entrepreneurial mindset — two qualities that are valuable to any company.

Don’t just rely on your book smarts

You can be the smartest graduate in your class. But, if you can’t apply the knowledge in the workforce, what’s the point? That being said, 80 percent of employers value the ability to apply knowledge and skills to real-world settings.

Going beyond textbook know-how and actually applying your skills in internships shows you don’t just want to learn — you are ready to work.

What do you think? How else can you make the transition to full-time?

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Val Matta
Val Matta
Val Matta, Managing Director of CareerShift, co-founded the company in 2005 to help individuals bridge the gap between education and employment.  As a recognized expert in the field, Val is a frequent speaker on career management, networking, and job hunting strategies.  You can connect with her and the CareerShift team on FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter.