Know What You Have

By Deb Perelman  |  Posted 2008-04-17 Print this article Print

DO: Know What Kind of Internship You Have

This may sound a little basic, but it is really not that simple. At some companies, the internship is their prime recruiting ground for future hires. In fact, once you're in the door, as some say, "the job offer is your's to lose." If you've got one like this, you're in good shape.

"Some organizations use internships as a form of campus recruiting where there is a direct path from internship to full-time employment. Others view it differently, more as an outreach effort to local universities," said Sean Ebner, vice president of Professional Services with a specialization in technology for Spherion Pacific Enterprises, a staffing and recruiting firm.

But at the vast majority of organizations, internships are more of a form of outreach with local universities--a way to build relationships that may have little to do with who the company wants or is able to hire.

In this second variety, it's up to the intern to win the loyalty and professional respect of the people who may--with some luck--be able to create a job opening where one was not.

DON'T: Lobby Incessantly for a Job

If you know that there are five interns but only one job opening at the end of the summer, it may be tempting to let your manager, their manager, the others in your department and the cleaning person you met in the break room that you'd really, really like to stay on, all in the name off ill-conceived networking.

"When you're in an internship, you kind of have to know your place. Lobby for a full-time position right away is almost a sure way not to be hired. You've got to walk a fine line," said Estes.

DO: Network Like Crazy

The space between a internship being unable to hire you as a full-time employee and one that magically finds budget and a headcount opening to keep their intern after the summer is over is quite often filled with nothing but who you've got rooting for you.

"Make sure you are networking within the organization and getting a feel for all of the departments. Leveraging these relationships to find out who has open headcounts,"  Ebner told eWEEK.

If an intern is really good and enough people know it, more times than not organizations will find a way not to let them leave.

"They might even create a position for you. If you show them what you're made of, people will tap you on the shoulder by the end of the summer," Estes told eWEEK.

DON'T: Network By Gossiping, Dating a Co-Worker

Dating a co-worker is one of the biggest no-nos of corporate life, and more often than not, it's the youngest employees that slip up on this. It draws the eye-rolling--not respect--of co-workers who know better than to mix business and their personal lives.

"Try to avoid dating employees. Any employee involved with an intern makes themselves an easy HR target," said Ebner.

As a third-party observer in a temporary role, people will naturally open up to you and it's easy to become gossipy to endear yourself to them. After dating a co-worker, this is one of the worst things you can do if you're looking to have a long career with the company.

"If you take a straight line approach and listen empathically but not corroborate their gossip, you'll earn respect. Otherwise, you'll end up siding with the wrong person you didn't know any better, and your work will get sidelined," said Ebner.


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