So you landed that internship, huh? Awesome! Day 1 just finished and you now realize that super fetch outfit you wore isn’t going to be the only thing that gets you a full-time offer at the end of your internship. Yikes. Here are five tips to help you find the confidence to go from intern to full-time:
1. You are not “just the intern.”
Don’t fall into the trap of using your internship as your identifier. Never say the words “I’m just the intern” – it makes you sound defeated and as if your internship is some consolation prize you had to settle for. People in the company may find it difficult to think of you as more than just their coffee fetcher or copy girl if you yourself don’t think you are. When you sit in on client meetings or meet other folks within the company, introducing yourself as “the new member on the web content team” sounds a whole lot better than “I’m just the intern.” Image and perception play big parts in the workplace – when you exude confidence, people will think of you less as an intern and more as a future full-time employee who is capable of taking on bigger projects.
2. Own a project from the ground up.
One of the best ways to give you the validation you’re looking for at your internship is to own something. Within the first month or so of your internship, you should already have enough intel to know what the company needs some work on and then think of what you can do to help solve those problems. It might be implementing a new file organizing system for a cluttered office or coordinating a team building event for a disconnected team. It might even be creating an Instagram and Twitter account for your company to reach a new audience. Keep track of results so you can use them to show the difference you’ve made and how keeping you around past your internship is a real benefit to the company.
3. Build your fan club.
It goes without saying, “you should be nice to everyone at your internship.” People in the company should know who you are, and not just that – they should be fans of yours. More importantly, they should know firsthand the quality of your work. When it’s time for your manager to determine if you should be hired full-time, who do you think he/she is going to consult with? Don’t just let the quality of your work do the talking for you; let other people in the company do the talking as well. People want to work with other people they like, so make friends and make them fans. They’ll be your biggest cheerleaders when you start to question whether or not you deserve that full-time spot.
4. Communicate goals and check-in regularly with your manager.
Dodging your manager and barely speaking to them is no way to build confidence at your internship. Sit down with your manager early on and communicate what each of you is looking to get out of this internship, then set goals to make sure you’re on track with reaching those objectives. Getting regular updates from your manager will give you a feel for how you’re doing and give you the confidence to keep on keepin’ on. On the flip side, also be ready for constructive notes and use these to improve your work. When you receive a compliment or a nice thank you note, take the time to really process it and use it as a reminder that you’re not sucking at this whole thing as much as you think you are. Celebrate these small wins – on your way home from the office, go get a cupcake… or five.
5. Educate yourself.
There is so much learning to do in an internship. Go beyond learning the surface lessons (like how to enter data into spreadsheets) and challenge yourself to learn about things like the macro-environment of whatever it is that your company does and follow your industry’s thought leaders on Twitter. Find out the “why’s” and the “what’s” that are both the cause and effect of your company’s work. With a better understanding of these things, you’ll feel more confident in the work you’re doing and you might even be able to contribute to a work-related conversation as you cut yourself another slice of Julie’s birthday cake in the conference room (because that cake is actually your lunch and quite possibly dinner too).
Bonus (for when you do get that full-time job):
You did it! You earned it! Go you! You’re not just the intern, you owned a project from the ground up, you built your fan club, you met the goals you set out to do, and you understand your industry way more than when you first started your internship. Yes, you’re the new kid on the block – but who cares? You’re finally one of the kids! It’s important to claim this new badge of honor, but make sure you remain grounded and humble. There’s still a lot of learning to do.
Lesson #1: Your full-time job doesn’t mean you’re allowed to be mean to the new interns.
Be sure to regularly check out the FindSpark job board for internship opportunities…hey, you might even land one that ends up in a full-time offer.
Have you turned an internship into a full-time job? Share your story below!