From Intern to Full-Time Employee

With the internships coming to an end, the one thing that some of you may have on your mind is, “How am I going to wrap everything up and try and turn this internship into a full-time offer?”. While this can be an intense question to think about, there are some things that you can do to get a feel for the potential and make your interest known.

It’s not uncommon for companies to start having these conversations with their interns before they leave the company to go back to school. With that being said, it’s important to keep in touch with the people at the company instead of just waiting to hear from them. This will show them that you take the initiative and are interested in the company. It will also help you to be remembered and give you a better chance of being placed sooner rather than later. Going along with the keeping in touch, it’s important to continue that networking that you’ve hopefully been working on throughout the entire internships. The more positive connections and relationships that you build with both the people on your team and in other departments, will help you stay in touch with the business and could also help make you known. You never know what doors these connections could open for you now or down the road after you’ve already been working for a couple of years.

Make sure that you finish strong with the internship and don’t slack off even though the summer may be over, and you’re headed back to school and your friends. Keep in mind that you’re still very much expected to give the company your all and learn up to the moment that you walk out of that door on your last day. It’s the least that you can do for the opportunity that they have given you this summer. In addition to that, make sure that you are continually talking to your manager and set up a meeting with them to discuss all of the things that you did well and can improve on in the future. This will help you develop yourself further and make you more marketable as an employee, but it also shows your willingness to learn and better yourself.

Finally, make your intentions known. If you are wanting to move on into a special rotational program or certain role in the company, don’t be afraid to set up a meeting with someone who oversees that program or an HR person to discuss that. Make sure that you’re not coming off too aggressive with it, but just show an interest. Ask good questions that will provide you with helpful information about how that job or program works. Inquire about interviews or potential opening and understand that while they may not be looking for people at that moment, you are showing interest can help you get that job in the future or a role that is similar in the meantime.

All in all, there’s nothing wrong with making your goals clear to someone in the company. A lot of time people make the mistake of not discussing their desire to work at a company and so they miss out on an opportunity that could have been theirs if they just spoke up. If you feel uncomfortable about bringing these topics up, lighten up the mood by getting lunch or coffee with the person and make it less formal by making it more of a chat and not a meeting.

Good luck wrapping up your internships and make sure that you get the most out of these last couple weeks!



Knocking that Final Presentation Out of the Park!

With most internships coming to an end in the next couple of weeks, it’s time to start thinking about final intern presentations. Most internships that you have will have some type of period where you are expected to present to the leadership team about everything that you accomplished during your internship. This can be an intimidating experience if it’s something that you haven’t done before, so I have some tips to help you get started and get through that presentation.

The first and best way for you to start thinking about your presentation is to create some type of storyboard. Reflect on your internship thus far and think about a couple different things: what the executives want to see, what were the accomplishments, what were the goals and challenges, and overall what is the layout going to look like. The way that I have done my layout is a simple intro slide with an agenda, I talk a little bit about myself including goals, I move onto the actual projects, then wrap up with key takeaways, a thank you and finally questions. Once you have the storyboard laid out and you make sure that it flows well, your presentation will be easy to build in PowerPoint.

While you start writing the actual content of your project, make sure that you are keeping it high level and staying out of the weeds. Your slides should be simple with keywords and simple statements. Avoid putting sentences and paragraphs of text on your slide. All your detail should come from what you say, and your slides should just be used as a basic summary of that. Make sure that you pay attention to grammar and avoid acronyms and cliché sayings that will detract from what the message if that you’re trying to convey.

Since your slides won’t be taken up entirely by words, don’t shy away from using images to emphasize your points. Utilize clip art, graphs, charts, tables, screenshots from your project, whatever you think will help you jazz up that presentation. Make sure that you keep in mind the colors that you choose you for your charts and graphs. It’s important that they go with your template and that the colors aren’t too harsh, but still differentiable from other colors in the charts. In addition to that, the pictures should be applicable and appropriate for your presentation and your audience.

Finally, let’s talk about the actual presentation. Once the PowerPoint is done, it’s important to prepare for how you’re going to present it. It’s important to practice multiple times and get down what you are going to say about each slide or project that you are talking about. In addition, make sure that you practice in front of people (ex: other interns, mentors, coworkers in your department) this way you will work on getting the eye contact down and will feel more comfortable with this information in front of people. They should also be able to give you some great feedback on things that you’re doing well and things you could improve upon. Practice truly does make perfect when it comes to these presentations. The more you present it, the more confident and comfortable you will be in front of the leadership team.

While presentations can be very stressful, keep in mind that these are still only a portion of your internship. It’s not the end all be all, but to combat some of those stressors and knock this PowerPoint out of the park, the points above that I made can really help you out if you work at them. With that, I leave you with a simple good luck and go bucks!




Getting Comfortable with Your Internship

Now that it’s halfway through the summer, I’m sure everyone is starting to feel comfortable with their internships. While a sense of belonging can be great, it makes it easy to forget where you stand as an intern and it can lead to some common mistakes that we are all prone to making.

These mistakes include:

  1. Becoming Too Casual
    1. When you start to get to know your coworkers and managers, it’s easy to get too comfortable with them. Make sure that you’re always being professional with communications like emails or instant messaging. You may be friends with someone, but it’s still a working environment and these forms of communication are recorded by the company. Make sure that you’re always being respectful and mindful of your syntax and grammar. In addition to that, make sure that during meetings you are paying attention and not checking your phone or doing other things on your computer while someone else is presenting. Be attentive and present during all meetings and conversations that you have while at work. If you do this it will show that you are dedicated to your work.
  2. Sitting Back
    1. Sometimes there is a lag in your project or workload which is the nature of all internships and sometimes even full-time jobs. While it can be nice to sit and relax a little bit, it’s not something that you should do all of the time. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your manager or other people in the department if you want to learn something new or pick up some extra ad hoc tasks. This can show that you’re taking an initiative and have a good work ethic.
  3. Poor Time Management
    1. Showing up to work late or taking a two-hour lunch may be nice, but it’s not something that your employers will appreciate. Pay attention to what the other employees are doing and set your clock to them so you can better fit in if there are no set rules for times and lunch breaks. In addition to timing, prioritizing your workload and schedule is also good. If you have multiple tasks due on different dates, make a time schedule and to do list for how you’re going to tackle those projects. This will ensure that you won’t be missing anything that’s important or expected of you.
  4. Lack of Communication
    1. Once the internship has calmed down, it’s easy for both you and your manager to think that things are all set and that everyone knows what’s going on and doesn’t need anything from the other. While that may be true to some degree, it’s easy to lose much-needed communication. Reaching out to your manager and setting up a weekly check-in meeting is a great way to make sure that you are still on track with your goals and ensure that you are meeting the expectations of the company and your manager. This line of communication will allow you to get the most out of your internship and make sure that you’re learning. It will help you have a better gauge on whether or not you want to work with this company in the future or have a job similar to your internship.

While I’m sure that none of you will make any of these mistakes, it’s always a good idea to assess yourself and make sure that you aren’t falling into any of these traps. With that, good luck with the second half of your internships and enjoy the rest of the summer.



Networking During the Internship

“Networking is the No. 1 unwritten rule of success in business.” – Sallie Krawcheck

Aside from the experience and skills that you will gain from the actual work that you do during your internship, the people that you work with and work for are some of the most valuable resources and best ways to learn. Networking with the people around you is a great chance to learn about other jobs you might not be doing or gain some valuable life advice that you can apply moving forward in your career. After all, these are the people who were in your same shoes at some point in their life. They can offer a completely different point of view from what you can at this point and time regardless of whether they are 2 or 20 years older than you.

When it comes to networking during the internship, there are some things that I can you that will make this intimidating experience easier.

First and foremost, pick the people that you want to connect with. Maybe there is a certain job that you’re interested in or they took a unique path in life that you want to learn about, or maybe it’s as simple as they went to the same university that you did.

Once you ID who you’re going to reach out to, seek them out when they’re grabbing some coffee or walking in the hall and just introduce yourself and establish how you heard about them or something that you noticed. After you start building up the rapport with them, invite them to get coffee or lunch so you guys can continue your chat. It doesn’t hurt if you mention that you are interested to learn more about their job or maybe their career experiences. This will express a sense of genuine interest and it will show that you’re not only trying to connect with them out of selfish reasons.

Once you are finally sitting down together and talking, make sure that you are being an active listener. A helpful thing to keep in mind is, the more you talk, the less you learn. I always try to prep a couple of questions beforehand so the conversation doesn’t die out and I make sure that there is a good mix of topics. Some questions about their career and past experiences are good, ask them about their interests and hobbies, and anything else that you may have found interesting about them. All in all keep things appropriate, be yourself, and be genuine.

After all of that is said in done, the last thing to do is maintain the relationship. Maybe get lunch again, ask them to shadow their job for an hour, or even stop by their work space to say hi and ask what’s new. Keep in mind that this relationship also doesn’t end as soon as the internship does. Networking is like gardening. You plant the first seeds during those initial conversations and everything after is all about fostering and growing those plants (relationships). If you don’t keep them up you will never know what could have come from that connection down the line.

I kept in touch with all of the people that I worked with during my internship last summer and to this day they are still people that I reach out to for career advice, ask for help on a work problem, and hang out with after a long work week. I can’t even begin to describe all of the ways that my connections I’ve made through networking has helped me. If there is one thing that you take away from any of the articles that I write, let it be that networking is a talent and a skill that will take you far, but in order for you to be good at it, you need to practice and maintain it. As they say, “use it or lose it.”

Cheers and Go Bucks!



Maximizing Your Internship

Hello, everyone!

Just an update on my internship, I am going on week 6 of my 13 week period of time at Dana. Being a returning intern has allowed me some great insights and opportunity with the company, many of which I would have never expected as an intern in a decent sized fortune 500 business. In addition to that, it has also helped me learn some of the best practices in order to maximize your internship and aim towards that overall goal of getting a full-time job.

With that being said, let’s discuss that big project you may have gotten assigned.

At Dana, I am working in their Aftermarket business unit and have been assigned 5 different projects ranging in level of difficulty and size. Some of these projects are what some would refer to as “boil-the-ocean” types which are designed to see how you deal with an ambiguous problem and the steps you take to finding an answer effectively. A common criticism of college students and interns nowadays is that we cannot handle the unknown and that we need our hands held in the form of step by step instructions in order to accomplish something. This is where these ambiguous project come in. When you get one of these assignments, don’t worry. They just want to see how you cope with it and the way you approach/process/plan. With that, my tip is to break things down piece by piece and then focus in and work until you can find a way to fix each part and fit it together. Sure, you won’t have a perfect answer, but that’s not nearly as important as your analysis and problem-solving skills when it comes to these types of issues.

The next thing that will help your internship is utilizing your resources.

Reach out to your managers when starting your projects and take an initiative. Ask if they want to have weekly meetings to check in, or how they would prefer you to communicate with them and start building up that rapport early on. Make sure that you are getting those much-needed criticisms and recommendations, as well as their opinions on your plan, drafts, and the progress thus far. Most likely your manager will be the one signing off on your final product and critiquing it, so the more that they support what you’re doing, the better it will fair for you in the end.

Another quality that coincides with communication is leadership.

Take the initiative, don’t be afraid to raise concerns that you may have. Sitting in a meeting with your manager or other important people and speaking up about how you may have a better way or an idea on how to fix something is one of the best things. It will show that you are leading your own project and are committed to the work and its completion. Employers will take note of that. They want people who want to make a difference and be initiative, not those who will sit back and say “We’ve always done it this way, so why change it now?”.

My last tip for this post has to do with the culture and fit of the company.

A big part of what you’re going to get out of this internship and how others perceive you have to do with how you interact with the company and how you fit. Everyone knows you’re an intern and everyone is watching and giving their input. With that being said, make sure that you’re interacting positively with your fellow interns and the full-time employees that you will be working with. Once again, take an initiative to get to know people and show an interest in what they’re doing and what opinions that have about your project. Participate in service events and tag along for any social events that you may have been invited to. All of these things show that you truly care about your work and the company. A common mistake people make is thinking that your future career is all about what a company can do for you, but in reality it’s the complete opposite. While a company will do everything they can to help you to learn they too expect you to give a lot back. They want a hard worker who will give back to the job, the community, and the overall goals of the company.

Keep this in mind when looking for internships and jobs. Make sure that a company is a good fit professionally and culturally, otherwise, you won’t be motivated to take that extra step to go above and beyond.

These internships are meant to be a job “try-out” so take advantage of that. You owe it to yourself to make the most of it and learn all that you can about yourself and your respective companies. You’ve got nothing to lose.

Thank you all for reading and I will come back at you soon with posts about socializing as an intern and dealing with those slow work weeks when your project is in a lull.