How to network and turn an internship into a job

June 21, 2011 at 8:00 am | Posted in Job market | 1 Comment
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Internships often lead to jobs, according to results of a new survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Employers responding to the organization’s 2011 Internship & Co-op Survey reported that an average of 39% of their entry-level hires from the Class of 2010 were harvested from their own internship programs. The respondents reported converting, on average, 58% of their interns into full-time hires, the highest rate since the association started tracking the statistic in 2001. Encourage your student interns to practice the following effective networking tips, so they can be part of that 58%:

  • Many interns may be embarrassed to ask how to network and meet people, so you could compile a list of ideas to help out. Advise them to act friendly, smile, and say hello to everyone at work.  If people don’t respond to them in an enthusiastic manner, they shouldn’t take it personally. That individual might be in a bad mood because of personal  problems. A pleasant greeting might cheer him/her up. Remind your students that networking means interacting with other employees, not sitting at a computer and networking online. Fellow employees are the best sources of new job information. It’s important to create a friendly relationship before asking for an insider’s viewpoint on  how to land a full-time position in the company.
  • Your intern students may think that they have nothing to talk about and hesitate to start a conversation. Assure your students that the best way to start a conversation is not to talk about themselves, but to ask the other person about himself/herself. Suggest questions such as, “How long have you worked here?” “Where would you recommend as a place to eat lunch?” “Did you see the Miami Heat beat the Boston Celtics last night?” People feel friendly towards those who show enough interest to ask questions and then listen attentively—cell phones turned off—to the answer.
  • Most companies have lots of non-work related activities that help interns meet people and build networks, especially in the summer. When the company has a picnic, outing to a ball game, speakers’ series or in-house sports teams, encourage your interns to get involved.  Another source of networking may be in the Human Resources department, where interns can get involved in social service activities or volunteer work.
  • Since most student interns are novices at developing networks in professional environments, they might benefit from a few cautionary words. Although going out drinking with co-workers sounds like fun, interns should proceed slowly. A sure way to ruin one’s reputation is to get drunk and become the subject of office gossip. Another red flag is the dating scene. Many companies frown on intra-office dating, so suggest that your interns wait until they finish their internships to pursue romantic interests. Meanwhile, they can make friends who might recommend them for full-time positions.

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