How to Turn an Internship Into Employment

A career search best practice is to gain real-world experience through serving in a paid or unpaid internship related to your field of interest. Internships offer the opportunity to build skills and areas of competence relevant to future employment. It is one thing to take a class to learn how to perform work, it is quite another to have actually performed the work and have examples to back you up.

Because internships often lead to full-time employment opportunities, job seekers can position themselves to take advantage of this with the following six best practices:

1. Become an expert on your employer. Take steps to understand its history, future plans, management structure, what it does (or makes), important performance measurements, and the like. Seek to understand the challenges it faces (whether enterprise-wide or departmental) and spend time thinking about how you could become part of the solution to those challenges.

2. Act like an employee with a promotion at stake. This means showing up early and staying late, being professionally attired, and maintaining a positive, can-do attitude. Whatever you are asked to do, do it with a smile and do it to the best of your ability.

3. Ask for feedback on what you can improve. Nothing says “hire me” more than being a hard worker who seeks to learn and improve. Ask for feedback weekly, accept negative feedback with grace, and express confidence in your ability to contribute.

4. Perform consistently. Employers can see who is consistent in their performance and who fluctuates like the weather. A consistent intern suggests a consistent employee, and if you are following the advice in item b (above), then you’ll stand out as a highly hirable candidate.

5. Mind your Ps and Qs. Modeling effective behavior and good manners is not only pleasing to others, but it is another way to distinguish yourself as a desirable candidate. Avoid participating in gossip and absolutely avoid negative comments about your employer, your supervisor, customers and staff. Always do what you said you would do.

6. Adopt a mentor/sponsor. Whether it is your supervisor or another well-respected key person at the employer, go out of your way to connect with individuals in leadership roles and seek their advice. When you make a positive impression, word gets around and you may find yourself invited back full time.

It is a commonly held misconception that only students can intern. Individuals who are contemplating a return to the workforce after an absence can accelerate their job search by interning. Part-time employees and workers between jobs can intern, and may find that their on-the-job performance will precipitate a job offer from the employer. People considering a career change can test the waters in their field of interest via an internship. Whether paid or unpaid, nearly anyone who is looking to improve their current employment situation can do so through an internship.

This article was excerpted from the 2013/2014 edition of the Graduate Employment Preparedness Assessment℠ Development Guide, published annually by Boyer Management Group (BMG). BMG works with employers and job seekers alike to help both become more successful. For job seekers, we offer the world’s first assessment to measure an individual’s knowledge and awareness of current and emerging career search best practices, along with the educational programs to support higher ed curriculum, career coaches and individual job seekers. For employers, we offer world-class B2B selling, training, selection and onboarding tools and programs. To find out more, please visit us at, email us at, or call us at 215-942-0982.


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