During one summer internship, I received an excellent piece of advice that’s stuck with me ever since.
A few weeks into the program, I was introduced to one of the firm’s directors. I knew I’d be returning to college in August, but I was enjoying the work and became curious about the company’s hiring process. So I asked the director what differentiated the interns that received job offers from those who didn’t.
Her response surprised (and scared) me at the time. She said that it wasn’t enough to be smart and hardworking.
After all, she said, we worked in an industry brimming with perfectly qualified people.
She said that the interns who got hired were not only smart and hardworking — they were invaluable.
These interns made connections with teams and individuals in the office. They built up trust with their coworkers and contributed consistently excellent work. They got the details right. They became crucial to the success of their managers.
Essentially, they were so good that their superiors just couldn’t imagine working without them.
So, if you’re hoping that your internship will end with a job offer, consider that awesome, somewhat intimidating wisdom and look out for these positive signs that you’re on the right track.
1. The company — and, specifically, your department — is expanding
There’s no point in getting your hopes up if there simply aren’t going to be any openings in the near future.
“Keep your eyes open and your ears to the ground for signs that the business is doing well and that your boss is interested in adding members to the team,” Augustine says.
2. You’ve passed the ‘field test’
Youtern CEO and founder Mark Babbitt notes that some managers test their interns with a little trial by fire to see if they’re full-time employee material.
“Often, that comes in the form of a project to manage or other staff members to manage,” Babbitt says. “The employer has little to lose in these situations. If you succeed, you’ve validated their belief in your capabilities. If you fail, they have a golden opportunity, with little risk to them, to see if you possess the emotional intelligence required to rise above a temporary setback.”
3. You’ve taken on additional responsibilities
Stereotypically, we think of interns as stressed, nervous young people who go on coffee runs and drown in menial administrative assignments.
But if you want your internship to lead to employment, you’ve got to break out of that mould.
Augustine says that it’s important to demonstrate to your boss that you’re capable of more than busy work. If you’ve already done this, it’s a good omen.
“If your role has evolved and you’re taking on greater responsibility, it’s a sign you’ve proven your value to your boss and can be trusted to handle bigger projects,” Augustine says. “While this doesn’t guarantee a full-time job offer upon graduation, it’s certainly a step in the right direction.”
4. Your manager asks you for advice
Does your boss look past more experienced colleagues to get your take on an issue?
Babbitt says that a manager turning to you for advice is a great sign. They value your input and likely intend to keep you around.
5. Your boss loves your attitude
It’s better to err on the side of enthusiastic (as opposed to apathetic).
Babbitt says that sometimes employers are just looking for someone who’s excited about the work. He notes that if you’re not just recognised for the quality of your work, but also for your passion and enthusiasm, that’s a great sign.
6. Your colleagues endorse you
How can you tell that you’re killing it? It definitely helps if your coworkers put it in writing.
Babbitt says that receiving public acknowledgment and sincere recommendations on LinkedIn and otherwise are auspicious signs that you could be receiving a job offer down the line.
“From colleagues to executives, when others are willing to risk their professional reputations by publicly endorsing you and giving you more responsibility, you’ve begun accruing the social proof required to take your career to the next level,” Babbitt says.
7. You’re invited to happy hour
Getting invited to Friday’s happy hour may be evidence that you’re about to graduate from amateur hour. Babbitt says that even subtle social gestures, like being included in fun work events, may be a sign that you’ve become an integral part of the team.
8. You propose solutions, instead of reporting problems
Prospective employees shouldn’t need a lot of handholding. “If you find yourself regularly finding ways to solve issues that arise, rather than simply complaining about a situation or bringing it to your manager’s attention, you’re on your way to securing a full-time offer at the end of your internship,” Augustine told Business Insider.
9. You understand how your work ties into the bigger picture
No one likes doing the dishes and grabbing coffee for coworkers. And if your internship has been billed as a “great, hands on learning experience” when all you’re doing is running errands, then that’s legitimately unfair.
However, standout interns don’t complain constantly about the drudge work. “If you’re able to take a step back and appreciate how your activities help your team accomplish their goals, you’re more likely to be asked to stay,” Augustine says. “Interns who understand that even the smallest tasks can be important to their team’s overall success are the ones who receive full-time job offers.”
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