Having an internship while in or right out of college will likely be pivotal on your career path. During internships you learn the basics and get an idea of how things work, while proving your worth by showing them you are ready for more difficult tasks and opportunities. While interning, no task is too small for you as long as you are learning something by the end of the day. The ultimate goal of any internship is to gain enough experience in order to attain a full time position, whether it be at the same company or elsewhere. Here’s 8 steps that’ll help you facilitate the internship to full time employee process:
1. Focus Your Search
It’s easy to blast a generic resume and cover letter to any job that pays and is remotely related to what you want to do. The problem? Hiring managers can spot template applications from a mile away.
Decide what you’re looking for in a position (even if it’s just for the moment) and focus your attention on a small number of jobs at companies you’re genuinely interested in. Do your research and see if you can find someone who will make a “warm” introduction to a current employee of your dream company by finding mutual connections through LinkedIn, your co-workers or your college alumni.
As a result of the referral, the chances of your application getting into the right hands will greatly increase. Target more time on fewer applications by tailoring the content — it will show dedication and help sharpen your writing skills to boot.
2. Go to Events
One in 10 people are hired through personal referrals, one in 219 are hired through online job boards. Meeting new people face-to-face is a powerful method of job hunting. Be active in your industry of choice by joining meetups and attending social events frequented by your dream colleagues. Most professional networking events are inexpensive, but if there’s one you really want to go to and can’t afford, offer to volunteer instead.
3. Ask for Advice
Most people enjoy helping others. Take full advantage of your internship by eating lunch or getting coffee with co-workers every day; every meal is an opportunity to gain insight about your industry and the company culture. In addition to asking for career advice, inquire about their current projects and see if there’s any way you can help. End every meal by asking if they can introduce you to one or two more people who might be willing to meet with you and offer additional tips on how to break into a sector or company.
4. Connect With New Mentors
Informational interviews are a great way to meet potential mentors within your industry. Reach out to professionals you admire to see if they can grab coffee or hop on a Skype call. Do your best to find people in your network who can make “warm” introductions, but don’t be afraid to send “cold” emails as well. Emails are most likely to be answered when they are genuine, well-researched and short. Get on a person’s radar by engaging with her through social media before you get in touch through email; comment on her blog posts and repin them on Pinterest. Because you’re likely reaching out to people who are already busy with projects and meetings, be sure to respectfully follow up once or twice if you don’t hear from them right away.
5. Start a Side Project
Often times people get noticed by hiring managers because of personal projects they created outside of their 9-to-5 job. When you do something for yourself, your passion is likely to shine through with great results.
For example, you could accept a pro bono project with Catchafire, start a blog and post recaps of events you attend, teach a Skillshare class, or use Kickstarter to raise funds for that creative project you’ve been putting on the back burner. Be sure to have a specific goal in mind with any project you take on, such as making a connection at your dream company, learning a new skill or earning a recommendation for LinkedIn.
6. Become Irreplaceable
Is there a giant database where you intern that no one likes to work with? Learn it. Are you the only one who knows how to use the latest version of Photoshop? Fantastic. As an intern, find the company’s pain points and help ease them. When it comes to hiring someone new or going with someone who knows the ropes, managers are likely to bring you on full-time, not only to save time training but because they already know you fit with the culture.
7. Look Good Online
A fully completed LinkedIn profile is a must, but set yourself apart from other candidates with a nice landing page using a free platform such as Flavors.me, About.me or Wix.com. Try out a less obvious social network like Pinterest, SocialCam or Quora. Talk about why it’s relevant to your industry during interviews to demonstrate your handle on new technologies.
8. Explore Unconventional Career Paths
Don’t be afraid to test the waters of entrepreneurship — through freelancing, for example, you to get a taste of different industries and work environments without the commitment. Let your network know you’re accepting projects and look for successful freelancers who might be ready to bring someone on to help them out.