Internships can be Your Ticket to a Job

For years, companies have given potential employees a “trial run,” also known as a summer internship. From a hiring manager’s perspective, the internship is useful in determining which students have the most potential, drive and interest — and which don’t. It can make hiring for entry-level positions substantially easier.

For the summer interns, it’s an extended audition. If you want a job at that company (or at least a glowing recommendation), there are a few key things to accomplish this summer:

Do your homework. Yes, it’s supposed to be summer vacation, but doing your homework before your first day and throughout the summer is critical. Your homework will include understanding the organization’s mission, structure, key players and critical skills. Find out who has the job you want, and work to get to know that person to understand how they got from college to career.

Be flexible. For some companies, internships are defined roles with a specific set of tasks and things to do. At others, you’ll be assigned to a different department every week. Take every new request as an opportunity to learn. Even if it’s something you don’t like doing, approaching it with a positive attitude will make a great impressions on those who could hire you.

Take initiative, within limits. It’s a great idea to volunteer to do things around the office, but accept that you may be limited in what you can (or should) do. If you’ve thought of a project you can take on that would be helpful to the company, ask permission before proceeding. There may be reasons you’re unaware of for why or how things are done.

Keep a journal. When you take on a challenge or get complimented by a superior, write it down! That way, when you apply for a job with that company or ask for a recommendation letter down the road, you can provide specific examples of what you did.

And then there’s the obvious — follow the dress code (no flip flops), arrive on time, remember that happy hours are professional events (not parties), and treat every day like the job interview that it is.