From Internship to Career: Leap Ahead in the Job Market

Turn Your Internship Into a Career Opportunity

Companies today are facing a tight labor market and fierce competition for quality employees. As a result they understand the value of internships. These companies are willing to hire talented college and high school students as interns - especially if the intern will likely be a candidate for a full time professional position in the future. Companies also might be willing to create brand new internship opportunities for you if you can show that you will bring valuable skills, enthusiasm and a strong work ethic into their company.

"My company strongly supports the idea of hiring interns" notes Matt Trask, president of Communica, Inc. ( an innovative and rapidly growing technology company located on Cape Cod. "We hire a number of talented student interns throughout the year and look forward to the possibility of bringing them back full time when they graduate. Interns at Communica are smart, energetic and quick learners - hiring interns is one of the best ways to proactively develop a top-notch work force."

Create Your Own Internship in a Tight Labor Market
Not all internships are advertised. In fact, the perfect internships for you probably isn't advertised - but a convincing letter to a hiring manager who needs your talents will result in the creation of a position.

Create Your Own Position
A first step in the process of convincing a hiring manager to create a position for you is to research the current full-time professional positions advertised by the companies for which you want to work. This will give you an excellent understanding of their current and future human resource requirements. It is likely that a company will be willing to create an internship in an area in which they are sorely in need of candidates.

Armed with this knowledge you can propose the creation of an internship that demonstrates how you will contribute in the short term and, most importantly, how you will positively impact the company's mission and bottom line.

Learn from Your Internship and Refocus Your Career Goals
Once you have an internship you will have an opportunity to learn new skills and understand a brand new industry. Take advantage of the new tools and software which you will be asked to learn and do your best to learn from the experienced full-time staff of the company with which you are interning. The internship experience can open your eyes to a new industry and may awaken skills and talents you didn't realize you possessed.

"Internships can open a world of opportunity that you didn't even know existed" according to Christian DeLoach, Creative Director at Fishnet NewMedia in Massachusetts. "I was an illustration major with an eye toward book illustration when I was invited to intern with a new media production company. My internship opportunity at Fishnet NewMedia exposed me to technology and people who sparked my interest in new media production and Web site design. When I returned to college for my senior year I focused on course work that enhanced my skills in the tools and technology used by professional Web designers. Since I had worked closely with the team at Fishnet NewMedia, I knew how to augment my portfolio with class projects and other work that would demonstrate that I would add value as a full time employee. When I expressed interest in returning after graduation, they welcomed me back."

Getting Asked Back - Working Towards a Future Job Offer

Work Hard!
While you are working at an internship work your hardest. Go above and beyond the call of duty and show your employer that you are a producer. If you are not being challenged enough you should seek out new, interesting assignments or offer to assist full-time staff with their current projects. Don't be an energy sponge. A good intern is one who takes directions but who is not in constant need of training and attention.

Do be a knowledge sponge. Learn all you can about the company for which you are working, their industry and the tools and software they use on a daily basis. Educate Yourself - before you start internship find out what skills you might need and start learning. Do learn what will be expected of you before you begin your internship so you can minimize the basic skills training you will need at the start of the internship. For example, if you know you will need to write HTML code to design Web pages and you don't already know HTML you should buy an HTML guide and teach yourself the basics. An internship is a learning experience and you will receive some training, but the more you learn in advance the more productive you will be as an intern.

Prepare for the Future.
Also, you should get information about the company while you are working there. Talk to other employees and learn more about their jobs, how they like the company and whether or not they are happy. Company employees will be able to give you insight into how much you might like working there as a full-time employee after graduation.

Finally, you should stay in touch with the hiring manager or recruiter who placed you in the internship. They, along with your direct supervisor, will have the greatest effect on whether or not you will be offered a job after graduation. Work hard and make a good impression with these people and you might be able to turn your internship into a career stepping stone.