Landing your dream internship can feel like the greatest accomplishment in the world— those extra hours studying to keep your GPA up, all the executive boards you’re on, the career fairs you had spent hours crafting pitches for, all the hard work has finally paid off. It can be easy to think the hard part is over, but your performance during your internship can be indicative of your future prospects within the company or the potential to receive glowing recommendations for additional opportunities later on. You will want to do your best at making a lasting impression and setting yourself apart from other interns, especially at competitive companies that are highly selective in the hiring process. While you will want to kick back and relax— it is summer after all— this is the time to prepare yourself for the demands of the professional working environment. If you meet and exceed the expectations of employers within your internship, you are headed in the right direction towards landing your dream job.
Business administration senior Mary Hildeburn was in this exact position last year when she landed her dream internship at LinkedIn. Knowing she wanted to work for this company in the future, Hildeburn understood her performance during her internship was crucial to proving her value to her employers. She offered some tips that proved invaluable for making an impression, as she has now received a full-time offer to work for LinkedIn. “Employers want to know that you will bring something more to the environment than just your skillset.They want to hire a person and not a resume,” she said. Some more of her tips for success include:
- Ask people higher up within the company on coffee dates in order to network within the workplace and to learn about possible positions you may be interested in aiming for. When setting up these meetings, Hildeburn advised including an agenda in the calendar invite. This shows the person that you are aware of what you want to know, prepared for the meeting and not wasting their time.
- Set a weekly one-on-one with your manager so you can set checkmarks and ensure that you are reaching them. This way, you will know with absolute certainty whether you are accomplishing everything that is expected of you. It will also be clear if you are lacking in certain areas. Plus, it shows initiative that you desire to measure your success and are passionate about doing a great job.
- Shadow the people that are in the role you want to be in so that when you return, you already have a leg up on other applicants. There is no better way to see the ins and outs of a job that you envision yourself occupying in the future than by actually watching someone perform the job on a daily basis.
Industrial technology and packaging senior David Klopp also knew he wanted to return to his dream job after he had an amazing experience during his summer internship with Deloitte. He stressed the importance of fostering quality relationships and showing eagerness to help in any way possible. Klopp’s advice on making a lasting impression included:
- Exhibit openness to challenge yourself and learn new skills. Instead of getting overwhelmed by all the new tasks that were thrown his way, Klopp took on the added responsibility of teaching himself necessary skills for the job after work each day. In addition, he asked his manager for a project that he could see through during his internship so that he could take full ownership of something. He advised that the combination of quick learning along with taking the added initiative helped lead to a full time offer at the end of his summer internship.
- Make strong personal connections within the company. Klopp advised showing genuine interest in employees and getting to know them on more than a basic professional level. “Some plans and activities I scheduled with employees were at coffee shops, happy hours and pickup basketball games after work or on weekends,” he said. Through engaging with his co-workers and getting to know them, Klopp has created many lasting relationships that he is excited to return to at Deloitte.
- Voice your interest in returning and back that up with hard work on your projects. He expressed to his manager that the job was definitely something he could see himself doing full-time and backed this up by going above and beyond his manager’s expectations on a daily basis.
Finally, David Lau, market research manager at MINDBODY, Inc., provided some important insights from an employer’s point of view as to what embodies a remarkable intern and how you can use your internship to best advance your employee skill set. His tips included:
- Attitude is so important. Many things such as highly technical skills can be taught, but a go-getter attitude is something that must come with you to the job. “The attitude that you bring to the workplace on a day-to-day basis speaks directly to your motivations and your mindset and reveals those who are willing and eager to learn,” he said.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Being too scared to try new things and fail can be a potential pitfall for interns who are trying to prove themselves. Employers recognize that recent graduates won’t immediately be able to perform every part of the job. There is a huge learning curve associated with translating skills taught within the context of university classes to an actual full-time job. The ability to make mistakes and learn from them is an essential quality in a successful intern.
- Exhibit a growth mindset. This includes showing self-awareness through being realistic about your performance on the job. “The most important quality is honesty with yourself and being able to recognize that you don’t know what you don’t know,” Lau said. Always seek opportunities for improvement and never assume you have nothing left to learn.
Landing your dream internship and securing a job is within your reach. There are many ways to establish worth within a company and leave a lasting impression. Employers will ultimately be most appreciative of attitude, mindset, honesty and initiative. In addition, making deeper personal connections through networking is the best way to secure your future at a company that makes you excited to come to work every day.