Guest post from Matt Arnerich, Inspiring Interns
Once you’ve secured an internship or work placement after university or during the summer, it’s important to consider your next move. Of course, you get to gain all important experience, both in terms of the skills you learn and the opportunity to supplement your CV when you go on to apply for other graduate jobs
But it doesn’t end there. A survey on the top 100 graduate employers in the country revealed that almost a third of graduate positions will be filled with people who have already worked there. On top of that, more than 60% wouldn’t consider a candidate with no work experience whatsoever.
So what do you need to do to impress and make sure they keep you on?
Set targets and smash them!
If you’re working with a company who have a well-established internship or summer placement scheme, the chances are this will be done for you. They’ll sit down at the start and tell you what they expect of you, what you should have learnt and what you should have achieved by the end of the internship period.
Make sure that you get these goals in writing and ensure that you do everything you can to meet them. There’s not a lot better than having concrete evidence that you’ve exceeded the goals that the company themselves set.
If your placement is at an SME, or a company with a newly established internship scheme, it could be that this won’t happen organically. If it doesn’t, ask for a meeting with your line manager or mentor and see if there are some specifics that need to be achieved. This way you have targets to work to and will also demonstrate that you’re proactive about meeting them.
Make yourself vital to the company
A key way to secure the all-important full-time position is to make yourself indispensable while you’re there. Ask to pick up ad-hoc duties so that you can learn as many of the systems as possible, and they’ll know that they can hire you across a range of departments without needing to spend the time training you up as they would with a completely new recruit.
Even more important would be to see if certain hard skills that you have could be advantageous to the company. For example, you could be well versed in social media, or be able to code in some languages. Perhaps you’re fluent in a foreign language and could pick up accounts with foreign clients. By undertaking these sorts of duties, you might get to the end of your internship and find that the company can’t afford to let you go.
Add worth to the business
Understandably, internships and work experience are about getting as much out as you can. They’re a fantastic opportunity to become adept on certain systems or programs, as well as learning certain soft skills crucial to working life.
If you want to be retained by the company though, it’s important to show that you’re not just learning, but adding value to the business. This is about taking to everything that’s asked of you with eagerness and focus but also trying to be as proactive as possible.
Once your tasks are completed, ask what else you can do, and don’t be afraid to propose the kind of fresh, innovative suggestions that are probably the reason why they chose to hire a graduate in the first place. It’ll also show that you’ve taken the time to really understand the business and think about how you think certain things might be improved.
Network, Network, Network
At any level, it’s important to try and ingratiate yourself within the company as much as possible, particularly if you’re a new to the business. Take every opportunity to meet and chat to people from different departments both in the office and at networking events.
When it comes to the end of your internship, these kind of ties can be invaluable. When the people higher up the company are making the decision on whether or not to offer you a job, or ask you back, positives voices and opinions from elsewhere in the company can be invaluable.
Go the extra mile
After all, the best advice is the most obvious; the real key to being kept on is being an all-round impressive employee. Punctuality is important and understand that some days you might need to stay late. It’s not ideal, but it’s just the way it is sometimes and by accepting and going the extra mile, you’ll show you’re not averse to putting the hard work in.
Try to take even the most simple tasks as enthusiastically as possible, and as we’ve already covered, take every opportunity to show that you’ve taken the time to understand the business and come up with innovative solutions to problem. When push comes to shove, it will be your ideas and your attitude that count as much as anything else.
Keep in touch
Things don’t always work out in internships. Sometimes they’re factors beyond your control, and sometimes they’re factors even beyond your managers control such as budget cuts or that they’re not sure they’ll have enough work for you in quieter periods of the year.
Either way, make sure you keep their contact details and get in touch when you’re next looking for a job. Try to keep contact with them in the interim time, and, if something does come up, you’ll be the first person they think of.