A recent report in the UK, carried out by Highfliers Graduate Recruitment Research, found that in 2015, 37% of businesses offering grad roles expect to fill some of them with candidates who have already worked for them. This means that businesses are offering more permanent roles than ever to their interns, and - perhaps more importantly - that a proportion of graduate roles that are taken up in 2015 are effectively 'off limits' to candidates who have not undertaken internships and other similar work experience.
Turning an internship you enjoy into a permanent job offer, and getting an immediate kick start to your career is a dream for many students. If you want to be one of the lucky ones whose internship becomes permanent, use these ideas.
The most important point by far is possibly the most obvious. To turn your summer job into a full time step on the career ladder, you must deliver the goods during that internship.
That means you act the part, dressing and presenting yourself as though you were a full time team member already. Set yourself goals based on your personal development and business targets for the duration of your intern placement, and discuss these with your boss. Ask for feedback regularly. Be inquisitive about the business and what you can add. Learn broadly about the industry and think creatively about the problems and solutions faced by the company. Get involved with everything you possibly can.
Go into your internship with a sense of humility and a willingness to learn. Not only will you have a better internship experience for doing this, you will make yourself extremely attractive as a full time hire.
Use your intern experience to build your network. Get to know as many people as you possibly can, and be curious about them and their jobs. Your purpose here is not to land yourself a new job. It is simply to get to know some more interesting people in an industry that appeals to you. Finding a job may follow from this, but try to set that aside and your network will build more naturally and organically.
Once your internship ends, write thank you notes, emails or cards to all those people who you met along the way. Be sincere, and ask to stay in touch. Use social media, and find ways to meet up with colleagues and connections face to face, at industry conventions, or through networking opportunities, for example. Keep the connections you built strong, and you are far more likely to be able to turn your intern opportunity into a career.
Don't be shy to ask about opportunities to turn your internship into a full time role after graduation. It might feel awkward, but if you do not push yourself you might miss out on a great opportunity. Failing to ask might save your blushes, but it also creates the impression that you're not particularly interested in continuing a relationship with the business you intern with.
Request a formal meeting towards the end of your placement with your boss and HR contact. Use the opportunity to talk through what you have done and delivered, and ask for feedback about your performance.
Raise the question directly with your boss about any future opportunities, and ask how you would be able to pursue a full time opportunity after graduating. Ask if your CV will be held on file for future roles. Enquire if there is any planned recruitment coming up - as part of an expansion for example - and ask how you can be considered for this. Find out what the company look for in a full time hire, and work towards this goal. Not only will you get valuable insight, you show your genuine interest in a career for the long term with that business.
Get a Mentor
Before completing your internship, try to find a suitable colleague or manager to be your mentor. Not only does this provide a great development opportunity, it is an easy way to retain a link with the business and a supporter inside that team. Build this relationship now and it could serve you well for years to come.
Mentors are great for offering ideas and guidance to people at all stages of their career. Find someone that you connected with on a personal level, and whose advice and ideas you respect. Get over your nerves and ask if they would be prepared to mentor you. They will be flattered. Although some people might have to say no for a lack of time, there is really no downside to this. Whatever happens, you will be remembered for being proactive enough to ask!
If your internship is coming to a close and you have not yet been able to secure a full time role for graduation, don't worry. Hopefully by now you are in an open dialogue about how you have performed during the intern program, and you have already asked directly about future opportunities.
Another angle to try when talking to the business, is to be more creative. Are there ways you can maintain a relationship with the company, such as working part time during the rest of your studies, or taking on a specific project to continue with once your formal program has ended? If you find a problem that you think you could help to fix for the business, offer to do so. It is great experience, and may evolve into something more permanent.
Don't forget that an internship is a two way street. You need to be sure that you actually want a position with this business on a full time basis. Use the internship to soak up the culture of the organisation and learn as much as you possibly can. Then if you still believe you are a match made in heaven, prove your value and start building the relationships that will see you become a future full time team member.
The encouraging side of the Highfliers statistic is this - if you have secured an internship, placement or work experience, you have more chance than ever to turn that into a full time job. The figures show that many people who interned in the summer of 2014 secured job offers and were able to spend their final uni year concentrating on other things, without the job search ever really hitting fever pitch. The moral of the story? Invest the time and effort to excel in your internship this summer, and it could really pay back.