4 Ways to Use Your Internship as a Job Interview

posted by , Program Manager, Campus Philly on February 5, 2013 at 11:00 am

With Campus Philly’s Spring Online Internship Fair just around the corner—Monday, February 25 – Friday, March 1—we asked Uva Coles, Vice President, Student Services at partner school Peirce College to share some tips on how you can use that great internship to gain a wealth of experience and maybe even get your first job. This semester, treat your internship as the first part of your interview!

Internships continue to be a vital connection to a new job. According to The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ 2012 Student Survey, approximately 60 percent of 2012 college graduates who took part in paid internships received at least one job offer. College students can use their internships as an extended job interview to demonstrate their knowledge and skills over time, as well as show the value they add to the organization. The same opportunities can be found in work-study programs or co-ops as well.

To help you make the most of your internship, here are some ideas for how you can use the experience as a long-term job interview with prospective employers.

Take on more responsibility.

Interns might feel like they are the bottom man on the totem pole, but there’s an opportunity in every internship to become a valuable member of the team and an asset to the company. Anticipate your boss’s needs, then deliver, deliver, and deliver some more! This can motivate employers to bring you on full-time.

Support other team members where you can.

During an internship, you’re not just interviewing with your direct supervisor — you’re interviewing with everyone you work with. Discuss with your boss that you’re happy to support other team members, and understand appropriate ways to do this. An added benefit of getting to know your coworkers is that it expands your business network, which could lead to potential job opportunities at other organizations. Just be sure to balance helping your coworkers with your core duties to your direct supervisor.

Demonstrate that you can think strategically.

As a new person, you can bring a fresh perspective to the organization. This is a good opportunity to demonstrate your skills, knowledge, and interest in the work at hand. Be sure to observe how departments work together, learn what role every team plays in the organization’s goals, and show that you know how to think about the full picture instead of just your role or your specific department.

Get to know the organization and its people.

An internship is as much an opportunity for you to interview the company as it is for the company to interview you. Get to know the people at the organization. Can you see yourself working with them for years to come? Volunteer for group projects to get to know your co-workers and their work ethics, go out to lunch with colleagues, and socialize at company events and get-togethers. It’s important to get to know the company and its people better, so if you are offered a full-time position, you can make an informed decision about whether you see yourself fitting in long-term.

Peirce student Natalie Price is an example of how these pointers can work.

“I started out in Peirce’s work-study program as an administrative assistant at the Walker Center for Academic Excellence, the student services offices,” says Price. “I organized honor society inductions; handled event planning; and got to know students, professors, staff members, and the organization itself—all without being asked.”

When a full-time administrative position opened up, Price let her supervisor know she was interested, and was hired soon after.

“My advice to other students? Always show that you’re a reliable, dependable, and professional person in any internship situation,” says Price.

You too can make yourself a more valuable resource by stepping up to take on more responsibility, volunteering, learning wherever possible, and generally making your boss’s life easier. We hope you use this advice in your next internship, and make sure to let us know how it’s going. While you’re there, let us know what helped you succeed in your internship in a comment below.

Uva Coles joined Peirce College in 2009 as the Dean of Career Development Services and currently serves as the Vice President, Student Services. She has a passion for helping students and alumni in Philadelphia progress personally, academically, and professionally.


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