Now that you’re comfortably settled into your summer internship, the next big thing on your to-do list is probably securing that full-time offer. With more and more companies using internships as a way to screen talent, you have a huge advantage once you’re in the doors as an intern.
But how do you get past that final step and go about acquiring the coveted full-time offer? Beyond just doing a great job on your assignments, here are a few ways to immerse yourself in the team, get the right kind of attention from the higher-ups, and make sure the company won’t be able to live without you on its “Meet the Team” page.
1. Get a Sponsor
You don’t want to be that intern who’s running around touting her own horn all summer in an attempt to get some attention (the other interns might resent you, and management probably won’t think you’re a very good team player). A better approach? Find someone to do it for you.
Task number one for the summer is to figure out which of your co-workers just naturally speaks well of everyone. Every workplace has one—the office compliment-giver. He or she usually goes from desk to desk asking how everyone’s weekend was and, unlike everyone else, actually seems to care.
Once you figure out who this person is, your goal is make sure he or she knows how well you’re doing. Let someone else spread the news of your accomplishments this summer. You don’t have to stick out your own neck, and it’ll sound better coming from someone else anyway.
2. Get to Know Everyone
Of course, it’s going to take more than one person on your side when the time comes to determine whether or not you’ll get an offer—you’ll want to get buy-in from as many people as possible.
Half the battle is letting people know what you want so they can help you get it. So, as you go about your day-to-day duties, make sure your co-workers know you’re excited about your work and are looking to stick around. Make it a point to meet with as many people as you can at the beginning of your internship. Set up short half-hour meetings or coffee breaks, and use this time to learn about everyone’s roles and where they see the company headed. People will want to learn about your background, too, so make sure you have your elevator pitch prepared.
This is also a good time to ask people for their advice on how to best secure a full-time position. Asking for advice has the dual benefit of you receiving some helpful nuggets of wisdom and letting people know you hope to stay with the company.
3. Take Initiative and Stay Busy
Unless you’re in a particularly well-run internship, you’re probably going to have some down time, when you don’t have much to do. But rather than learning the fine art of how to look busy, try, you know, actually being busy.
To do this, go out of your way and take initiative to either ask for more work or suggest your own projects. Ask around and see if there are some side projects people have been meaning to do, but haven’t gotten around to. This might even be a topic to bring up when you’re meeting the rest of the staff. Make sure to frame it as “I’d love to help…” rather than “I have nothing better to do, so…” Taking initiative is a great way to show your enthusiasm for working at the company—and that you’d be a huge asset to the team if hired.
4. Manage Up
Last, but not least, you will need to regularly communicate with your manager. Ultimately, it will be your manager’s word that will carry the most weight when the time comes to evaluate your performance, so make it a priority to meet your manager’s objectives and request feedback frequently.
To do this, make sure you have an opportunity to check in regularly so your manager knows what you’re up to. And, don’t forget to check if you have support from your supervisor before going off to do different projects. Being on the same page as your manager will help you be seen as a stellar intern, rather than a rebellious one. If weekly meeting aren’t an option, start sending a summary of the things you’re working on and your accomplishments at the beginning or end of each week.
When it comes down to it, this summer is essentially an extended interview for a full-time offer, so treat it as such. Get your game face on, meet and greet the staff, and make your manager look good. With a little bit of luck and a little more hard work, you’ll be walking out of your internship with an offer to come back.
Lily Zhang serves as a Manager of Graduate Student Professional Development at the MIT Media Lab where she works with a range of students from AI experts to interaction designers. When she’s not indulging in a new book or video game, she’s thinking about, talking about, or writing about careers. Follow her musings on Twitter @lzhng.More from this Author