When Kelly Jackson received her diploma from Penn State three years ago, she already landed a full-time job at marketing firm Allen and Gerritsen in Philadelphia. She was able to convert her internship the previous summer into an enticing job offer with benefits by the following April.
“As an intern, I was given the ability to be part of the company and work on real projects versus errands,” she recalls. Amidst compiling coverage reports for clients, spearheading research for public relations campaigns and new business pitches, she “hustled hard.”
By going the extra mile, doing what was asked of her and asking questions as to how a simple project relates to the big picture of an overall campaign, she essentially wrote her own ticket to the full-time gig.
Here’s how you can leverage an internship or summer gig into full-time status whether it’s right when the summer ends or in Jackson’s case, nearly a year later.
There’s seriously no substitute for being a stellar performer. Arrive a little bit earlier than everyone else, stay a little later and most importantly, be diligent and demonstrate a winning attitude — no job is beneath you even if it means standing at a copy machine for several hours.
Jackson’s motto involved “always thinking ‘yes…and,’” similar to the improvisation technique where you expand upon a conversation by agreeing with and expanding upon the situation.
Your boss isn’t a mind reader — he or she may not realize how much you enjoy working there and wish your tenure would be longer (along with health benefits coverage and 401K contributions).
Schedule time on your boss’s calendar to indicate how much you enjoy working there. Say something like, “I really love working here and if any full-time opportunities become available either now or in the future, I would seriously pursue it.”
It’s a conversation, not a monologue. Listen to your boss — maybe an opportunity is on the horizon or maybe they’re in a hiring freeze. (This is also good practice for future conversations with managers whether you want to talk about getting promoted, ask for a raise and more.)
Jackson spoke with her boss at the end of her internship — it was more like a performance evaluation, talking about where she excelled and opportunities for growth. “I expressed plainly and respectfully that I wanted a job offer after I graduated. I told her I would work for that.”
In addition to expressing your interest, don’t be afraid to point out accomplishments as well as testimonials and accolades from colleagues. When you do excellent work, stellar feedback typically makes its way to supervisors pretty quickly (same applies to not-so-sparkly performance, too).
As you speak with your boss, ask who the appropriate person is to connect with in internal recruiting. Schedule a meeting to express your interest while pointing out your achievements. (As a former corporate recruiter, I was always impressed when interns I didn’t previously know reached out to get onto my radar screen.)
It’s in your best interest for two reasons: Your boss may not be working at the company a few weeks from now, let alone ten months from now. By making a new contact and putting in face time for a sit-down meeting, you’re making another valuable connection.
Secondly, a job in your department may not be available but another one internally may be. Recruiters are your friends. They’re looking to fill jobs quickly with qualified candidates.
Hop online to the internal postings to see what’s available. And if nothing’s available, ask the recruiter about how they prefer to keep in touch, basically planting the seed they’ll be hearing from you going forward.
In addition to meeting with recruiters, strive to connect with people in other departments for informational interviews. By learning about their roles and finding out if their groups have any openings, you will already have glowing testimonials from your current boss and colleagues.
Make new friends by attending the company’s summer picnic and other potential outings. If you work with other departments, instead of just emailing your new colleagues, go a step further by inviting them to join you one day for lunch, breakfast or coffee.
Jackson wasn’t shy in reaching out to her boss and other executives to occasionally meet up and pick their brain on things; they were more than willing to connect.
In case a job isn’t available when your current temp gig ends, fret not; follow up frequently and remain top of mind by pinging former boss and colleagues.
This can be done in a variety of ways such as email as well as social media like sending contacts a relevant article on Twitter to either their company in the news or something lighter like their favorite vacation spot. Literally set up reminders on your Outlook or Google calendar to ping them every few months (yes, this means they should be also added to your holiday card snail mail list.)
Jackson emailed her boss every three to four months, but also sent emails to an associate on her team. “If I saw my client in the news, I sent them a note acknowledging this.”
And maybe you legitimately want to follow up on a project you worked on that is coming to fruition a little later. Ask how it went, get feedback and find out what they’re currently working on.