My sophomore year of college, all I thought about was getting an internship. Since my family lives abroad, I knew that if I didn’t secure and establish a lasting career, I would have no choice but to move back home. This internship had to ultimately be a full-time position or give me transferable skills to apply elsewhere—it had to set the stage for my entire career. Sounds like a lot of pressure, doesn’t it?
Whether they’re international or not, this is how a lot of college students feel about internships. And, while taking internships is important in establishing yourself as a young professional, your first internship likely will not be the be-all-end-all to your entire career. This is a time to dip your toes into the professional world, experiment, learn, and discover what your ideal day-to-day tasks could look like. That being said, doing well in your internship truly opens doors, whether it is at your place of internship or beyond. So, here are my tips for turning your internship into a full-time position.
Balancing school and work can be very difficult. A good way to mitigate being overwhelmed is to ensure you’re communicating with your manager as effectively as you can. From your workload to your mental health, an upcoming finals week, or plans for a family vacation, giving honest and advance notice will undoubtedly be appreciated.
Give every mundane project the same sense of importance
It goes without saying that some of your tasks as an intern will be less than glamorous. In the midst of making copies, filling out spreadsheets, and doing research, it might be easy to feel like you’re not making your impact. But it’s important to remember that there’s a reason behind anything you’re assigned, and in a lot of cases, it is tedious but valuable work that no one else on the team has the bandwidth for. Everything you do moves a project along in some way, and even if your impact is making your manager’s day go a little easier, this is still an excellent way to stand out as a candidate!
Work beyond the scope of the job description
In essence, internships are about exploration. It’s essential to try out varying types of responsibilities to find the best career fit for you, and that can be difficult if you’re stuck in the “not in my job description” headspace. Although your scope of work will likely narrow a bit once you land your full-time position, flexibility is a truly underrated skill that will make you stand out as an intern and respected as a full-time professional.
Don’t be afraid to ask for a transfer
The above being said, sometimes the internship you land in won’t be the best fit. Whether it’s because of the team culture or the work itself, it’s important to be honest with yourself and your manager when there’s a mismatch. It’s easy to think the only step forward is to leave the company completely, but before making this decision, consider if you’d simply be a better fit on a different team. This could help you avoid another arduous job search or company training period, and your advance knowledge of the company itself can be an advantage as a candidate. Do some research on your own about different teams and what they do at the company, and if you think you see a match, have a sincere conversation with your manager about how you’ve been feeling at your current position and express your curiosity about the other teams. Your manager could even have some recommendations about where you’d fit best, and if you’re a standout intern, they’ll have no problem putting in a good word and connecting you to the right people.
If you are looking to find your niche, our recruiters will be able to help! Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the amazing opportunities at transperfect.com/careers.