Turning an Internship into a Job Offer (Part I)
By Terry Pile
Congratulations! You're about to start your summer internship. This is a great step toward getting a real job. But just showing up is not enough. Besides learning new skills and gaining work experience, you will want to gather references, network with co-workers, take advantage of in-house training opportunities and much more. Part I will discuss how to make a good first impression as you embark on your internship. Part II, to be published in a future issue, will offer suggestions on maximizing your internship experience.
First impressions count and unfortunately, we tend to judge others right away. There is an old saying that you don't get a second chance on a first impression. The advice below is meant to help you look and act professionally from day one of your internship.
Make your boss look good
One of the best things you can do is to make your boss and whoever hired you look good. When you shine, they shine. Here are a few tips to start.
Watch how your boss acts and what he/she likes. Is this person formal, friendly, a neat freak, a fitness buff? As much as you can, try to fit in to your boss's way of doing things and the corporate culture. Asking co-workers about the best way to work with the boss will give you valuable insights.
Keep your boss informed of what you are doing and any problems that arise. Ask for ways to improve your work.
Your boss is not your friend or parent. You don't need to like the boss, but you do need to show respect and follow what he/she expects of you.
Put thought into your appearance
Your first day on the job will set the tone for your entire internship so the first impression your co-works form of you is important. Nothing says more about you than how you dress. Find out in advance about the company dress code. Make sure your clothes are in good condition and fit well. Take special care in your grooming. Is a haircut in order? Too much perfume? Tattoos out of sight? CWR Reporter, Natalie Jobity offers excellent advice in her column "Dress for Success." Be sure to consult it when you think about your appearance.
Be punctual and reliable
Being on time is the most basic measure of professionalism. When you are late, everyone notices. Be sure you know how long it will take to get to your new job and leave plenty of time to compensate for the unexpected, such as bad traffic or congested parking. Even better than arriving and leaving on time is coming in early and staying late. Coming in 15 minutes early and sometimes being the last one to leave will add up favorably in the eyes of your boss.
Limit you Internet and cell phone use
Whether your internship is paid or not, you are there to work. Don't use the Internet for personal use. And never go to controversial sites. You could be fired on the spot. Avoid sending emails that contain jokes or off-colored remarks ...to coworkers or friends. If you get an email for a coworker, answer it right away, either with a reply, a phone call or face-to-face contact with the sender.
Limit your cell phone use, especially for personal calls. Only make personal calls when you absolutely have to, and keep them short...under a minute. Keep your cell phone on silent or vibrate. A ringing cell phone disturbs everyone around you. Even if you have a fun ringtone, it may not be cute in the office.
Be Friendly....Be Professional
Treat everyday like you are at a job interview. What you do and say on the job ultimately reflects on your employability. Avoid discussing your private life at the office. Don't gossip about other employees or talk negatively about the company or other employers you may have worked for. Stay away from negative people. No matter how good things are, there are always people who see the downside. It is easy to get caught up in their negativity. You want to develop a reputation as one of those "positive people."
Avoid chewing gum, eating at your desk and taking cigarette breaks. Watch you language and don't use curse or use slang. Your coworkers are not your family and friends. This is business and you want to appear professional.
Finally, remember the Golden Rule. "Treat others the way you would like them to treat you." Be friendly to everyone, whether it is the CEO, secretary or janitorial staff. Greet them in the hall with a smile and "Good morning." Just as your parents taught you, "Please" and "Thank you" go along way to give the impression of politeness and respect.
Now that you know how to make a good first impression, look for Part II on how to maximize your internship experience to enhance your job prospects.