Getting Started Professional Development

From Intern To Employee in 5 Steps

Written by Miranda Pennington

Krystal Seecharan over at TalentEgg has some tips to get you off of the intern bench onto the full-time employee roster! Follow these 5 simple suggestions and let us know how it turns out!

1. Fake it until you make it

It’s normal to feel nervous or unsure about how to work yourself into an unfamiliar office culture. Start off simple and read any company guidelines you’re given ahead of time. Introduce yourself when appropriate, remember names, be polite, and smile when you pass people in the hallways. Maintain a professional and polished image and show your officemates you take this job seriously.

2. Network

A caveat to this suggestion is don’t be obnoxious. Don’t send your entire department a LinkedIn request on your second day in the office, don’t Facebook friend your boss and invite them to send you Candy Crush credits. But, be social enough that everyone knows who you are.

Ask your supervisor if there are any other departments you can help out, if you’re curious about what they do. You’ll finish your internship with extra experience and bonus contacts at your company (these can come in really handy if your boss moves on. The last day of my publishing internship, my terrific supervisor left for a different publisher! Luckily I’d worked on a few outside projects and presented at some large group meetings so I was able to get an interview there after I graduated).

3. Be open to constructive criticism

The way you signal your bosses that you’re mature enough for honest feedback is often by asking for it. Ask questions when you’re unsure or didn’t understand an instruction, and ask for an evaluation midway through your time as an intern. If they offer you some suggestions for improvement, don’t get defensive—be appreciative, and take it to heart. They’re doing you a favor even when they’re telling you something that’s hard to hear.

4. Go beyond your job duties/requirements

Bring creativity and enthusiasm to work with you every day. Volunteer for extra projects and don’t shy away from seeing them all the way through. Odds are you will have to get coffee at some point, but do it with a smile and remember cream and sugar preferences.

5. End on a high note

If your internship program doesn’t already have a project or presentation structure in place, consider asking your boss if there’s something you could work on independently, like a mock proposal or business plan. It’ll leave a lasting impression and let you show off everything you’ve learned over the course of your time with the company. Be sure you send thank you notes to everyone you worked with, send out gracious LinkedIn requests, and never ever burn a bridge.

Even if you don’t get hired on, you’ll have learned some valuable lessons about staying motivated and focused during the day-to-day routines of a workplace!

About the author

Miranda Pennington

Miranda K. Pennington is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared on The Toast, The American Scholar, and the Ploughshares Writing Blog. She currently teaches creative nonfiction for Uptown Stories, a Morningside Heights nonprofit organization. She has an MFA from Columbia University, where she has also taught in the University Writing program and consulted in the Writing Center.