How to go from intern to full-time employee

By | September 8, 2019

With internships becoming an increasingly essential tool to finding full time employment, it’s important to maximize your opportunities and cement yourself as a valuable team player.

“Being in a team, your primary focus needs to be on improving the lives and work of the people around you,” says John Deely, 22, who completed a 10-week internship at L’Oréal last year. “Facilitating conversations, setting clear objectives and creating pragmatic actions and solutions will not only help you, but strengthen the people around you and subsequently improve the quality of work.”

Deely, who graduated from MIT with a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering in June, was initially recruited by the global cosmetics company for a three-month role as a process engineer intern in a manufacturing plant, a position he found while attending his school’s career fair.

Deely focused on turning this short-term employment in to a full-time position.

“Nothing beats hard work, but nearly as valuable was learning how to effectively communicate and make yourself into a powerful resource for others,” he says.

Being paired with a mentor was also invaluable, says Deely.

“My mentor was working full time and had also previously been an intern at L’Oréal. The program was also very well-structured, offering many intern events for education and networking,” he says.

Networking around the office is another key to intern-to-perm success.

“Meeting people is one of the most rewarding activities you do during a temporary work experience. In any work setting, you will find yourself in a wide variety of teams and environments. The extra handshake, office visit or e-mail really goes a long way to cement relationships,” says Deely, who was ultimately offered a full-time position a few weeks after his internship ended.

He credits his proactive approach for the job proposal.

John DeelyJohn Deely

“Following my internship, I stayed in touch with the human resources representative and members of management to get on the same page as far as my own career goals and how that would align with business needs within the site,” he says. “Most intern programs offer midterm assessments to gauge your performance. I’d advise going into these conversations focused on your own performance and how you can improve. It’s also the appropriate time to bring up your desire to work full time.”

With almost a quarter of all recent college grads underemployed, internship success is one of the biggest factors in landing work today, says Liz Wessel, co-founder and CEO of WayUp.com, an online platform that helps employers nationwide recruit those with zero to three years of experience under their belt. Roughly 5 ½ million users seek opportunities using the tool, and 1 in 3 of those people get hired, says Wessel.

To ensure an end-of-internship success story, Wessel says, “You should be direct with your manager and human resources representative from the start so that you understand the internship-conversion process to a full-time job. Ask them what you need to do and what the best steps and timeline are to follow to this end.”

Touching base frequently with your supervisor is also a wise way to stay at the top of their mind for future employment opportunities, says Wessel.

Before departing, “ensure you retrieve contact information for appropriate employees on LinkedIn. Reach out to thank them, let them know that you enjoyed the experience, what you learned and inquire about opportunities to return to work with them again. You might be able to discuss part-time contract work while you’re back at college, which is another great way to showcase your ability and skills,” Wessel says.

TOP TIPS

Inquire within while you are there

Ask about different roles within the company. Not only will you learn about different job functions, but your interest across a variety of areas may appeal to employers.

Be yourself

The fit of the company culture is an integral part of your experience. To ensure the match is there, try to be comfortable and candid throughout the internship experience.

Toot your own horn

Recap your three biggest accomplishments and your three biggest revelations throughout the summer, and share that information with your manager.

Show gratitude

Write thank you notes,” Wessel says. “Nothing goes further than a handwritten note.”

Living | New York Post