This is a guest post by Anna Hicks.
An internship is an excellent way to gain valuable work experience, learn how to handle yourself in a corporate setting, and -- when you start applying for different career opportunities -- internship experience can impress future employers.
While you may agree to a short-term internship -- perhaps two or three months -- an internship is a great way to get your foot in the door at a company. Some employers even use internship programs to locate new full-time team members. The way you conduct yourself will dictate your chances of turning that internship into a full-time job.
1. Be choosy with your internships. Because an internship can pave the way for a full-time position with a company or organization, be selective. If you take an internship that you’re not very interested in, chances are you won’t perform at your best. Even if you give the employer your all, you may not be excited at the opportunity to work for the organization as an employee.
Of course, you can always decline any job offer and simply highlight the internship in the experience section of your resume, but you’re back at square one. When applying for any internship, ask yourself: can I see myself working with this company or organization long-term?
2. Build relationships with your coworkers. Even if you only plan to intern for a few months, this isn’t a reason to be standoffish with your coworkers. When determining whether an intern is a good match for a position, some employers assess how the intern interacts with those in the office. Is the intern friendly? Does the intern take an interest in others? How do the other workers feel about the intern?
3. Take initiative. As an intern, you may be given very limited responsibilities. If you finish your work early, don’t just sit there twiddling your thumbs. Take initiative and go to your supervisor or a coworker and offer assistance.
4. Be professional. No, this is not a permanent position, and in some cases, the internship may be unpaid. But the fact that the job is temporary isn’t an excuse to skimp on professionalism. Be professional at all times. This includes arriving to work on time, dressing appropriately and avoiding vulgar or slang language in the workplace.
5. Be available. An internship shouldn't take over your life, but if your boss needs some assistance before or after your scheduled hours, consider whether you can make yourself available.
If an internship is unpaid, some may view these opportunities as a waste of time. Quite the opposite: an internship can help shorten the length of your job search. Be professional, be likable and demonstrate that you’re a team player. At the end of your internship, you just may receive a job offer!