You’ve got an internship that you’re hoping to turn into a full time job -- how do you make that happen? I was invited to speak on this topic to a group of MBA students recently at Michigan State University. The Eli Broad Graduate School of Management was offering a workshop to students as part of their program and I was on a panel of corporate representatives from 3 different companies. The students asked some great questions.
Here’s a look into some of the advice we shared.
1) Network. If you have an internship, you are in a great position to make contacts within the company. Take full advantage of that opportunity. Get to know the other interns, get to know your co-workers. Seek out a mentor. Engage in the social and learning events the company offers. Networking is a long-term process, realize that networks developed now may help you down the road. Look for ways to help others, even where there’s no immediate return for you.
2) Perform well. Find out what strong performance looks like at your company. Follow the example of people who are considered to be top performers. Consider your internship an on-the-job interview, and make sure you always put your best effort into everything you do. There’s no substitute for strong performance. Learn the company culture.
3) Recognize the fine lines that exist in the workforce – be social enough to develop good networking relationships, but don’t let being social get in the way of achieving your results at work. Be able to recognize when it’s ok to have a short social or career conversation, and when it’s time to get to work.What if the internship isn’t going well?
If you feel like you are underutilized, speak up – talk to your manager. Learn about the business and identify where you can contribute. Talk about whether you can take on other projects in addition to the one they’ve hired you to do. Just make sure you do all work well, even if it’s something that’s not your favorite thing. We all had seen effective examples of interns asking to take on projects in areas in addition to their own area, and getting to know other managers, with the support of their manager. Always be up front and involve your manager if you want to explore adding projects to your plate.
If you feel like you are overwhelmed, same advice applies – talk to your manager. Have confidence in your abilities and give the project your best effort, but don’t go too long before asking for help if you need it. Again, this one is a fine line between getting guidance and help from your manager, but not being “needy”.When is the best time to bring up the question about whether the internship will turn into a full time offer?
The consensus on the panel was that the halfway-point through the internship was a good time to bring that up, if it hasn’t been raised by the manager. You want to have enough time for the manager to have a sense of your skills and capabilities. If you ask right away before they have this, they’ll likely tell you let’s wait and see how the internship goes. Keep in mind that you will be using the internship as an opportunity to figure out if that’s the right company for you too, so you’ll want some time there.How do you bring up the question?
Talk to your manager, let them know that you are really enjoying your experience with the company and you believe it is a good match for you, and that you are interested in talking about whether you can continue to contribute to the company through a full-time job after the internship is over. Ask for feedback, and be self-aware, make sure you know how your performance is perceived so far. If there’s not an opening in your immediate department or manager’s group, ask for their support and help as you explore other opportunities in the company.
Opportunities may be fewer than in the past, but companies do continue to hire. If the company you’re working for doesn’t have full time opportunities, look at other companies in the same industry or those who have the same type of work, and focus on how you can apply your internship experiences there.
If you haven’t seen HP’s Uncut yet, take a look. This is where employees can upload videos they create.
Uncut is a great way to get insight into HP. Everything on the site was created by HP employees.
We ran a global contest recently for university hires and interns to create a “Day in the Life” video to inform, educate or simply entertain HP candidates. Check out the Work @ hp section of Uncut to see the winning videos and to get a glimpse into what employees like about HP. The grand prize went to a video created by one of our Young Employee Network groups, and the first prize shows how Scott Edwards took a concept from idea to testing servers via explosion. The really cool thing about the video contest is that it’s a great illustration of how we work globally. I’ve found that my colleagues in other places in the world are just as much a part of the team as those I see on a regular basis and I think that’s a really unique thing about HP.
In addition to Uncut, as you think about HP as an employer take a look at HP TV on the website. There’s an incredible amount of information on HP TV. From hp.com, click on the “company information” link down at the bottom of the home page, then click on HP Videos.