It’s the goal of many a bright-eyed summer intern: Turn an unpaid — and sometimes unappreciated — position into a salaried job. And yet, the giant leap from intern to payroll happens less regularly than graduating seniors often assume, career counselors warn.
“Students shouldn’t put too much pressure on themselves to turn their specific internships into jobs,” says Lauren Berger, creator of InternQueen.com, a forum for college students she created after knocking out 15 internships as an undergrad. “The reality is that not every internship is used as a recruitment tool.”
That said, make the right impression, and your corporate overlords and fellow interns could be the link to your first out-of-college job. “Really, really focus on building your network at your internship and build real relationships with as many executives, coordinators, assistants as you can,” Berger encourages. “When you leave, it’s important to stay in touch with those people.”
Not every internship is a sure leg up, “The Internship Bible” author Samer Hamadeh cautions. “But even bad internships,” he notes, “help you figure out the jobs you don’t want.”
Before you go …
“End-of-internship preparations should start two weeks before the end date,” advises Berger. “Request your letters of recommendation early. Executives take forever on those.”
Make sure you get coffee or lunch with your intern coordinator, too. “That’s the time for the student, if they are interested in a job, to express that,” she explains.
Keep in touch
“Anyone who you meet during the internship, keep track of those people’s first and last names; and when it comes time to leave the internship, any executive, any employee who helped you, even the janitor, write a thank-you note, handwritten,” Berger urges. “Three times a year — fall, spring, summer — you want to reach out to those people.”