Helping students turn internships into permanent positions

August 2, 2011 at 7:00 am | Posted in Intern Advice | Leave a comment

Susan Sandberg

Your students are almost through with their summer internships and may be feeling tired or disillusioned with their assignments. You can improve morale by sharing stories with them about interns who successfully turned their internships into permanent positions and also by giving them suggestions on how they can do the same.

  • Internship:  A recent article in The Baltimore Sun reported on how a 22-year-old from Loyola University Maryland earned a full-time position as an assistant to House Speaker John Boehner after making a good impression as an intern. She took an unpaid internship in fall 2010 and watched while Republicans retook the House on Election Night.
  • Permanent job:  When she learned that a permanent position in Boehner’s office was available in December, she took the job, balancing it with the 5 classes that she still needed for graduation in May 2011. She studied on the train, crammed for tests, and survived on 4 hours of sleep a night, graduating with honors on time.  Her perseverance was motivated by her desire for the job. She explains, “I wanted it.”
  • Networking:  Before she got the internship, she took a summer job in the House cloakroom in 2009, where she could make connections with congressmen and see how the place worked behind the scenes. She also maximized her family network, including her uncle who rose from Senate parking lot attendant to presidential advisor. However, if she had not done her job well, she would not have been brought back, according to Boehner’s director of administrative operations.
  • Shared philosophy:  It helps for an intern to share a similar philosophy with the company or organization in which he or she is interning. The young woman who won the fulltime paid position in John Boehner’s office is partial to the Republican Party. She also exhibits enthusiasm. Her professor at Loyola says that “she’s still got the wonder of it all.”  Her support of her boss is evident in her quote, “I certainly feel that he’s driving by a moral compass. It makes me excited to be a part of it.”
  • Appreciation:  Remind your students to tell their intern supervisors how much they learned at their internships, how much they respect the company, and to thank everyone who helped them at the internship. Employers like to hire people whom they know fit in to the corporate culture, enjoy working with the company, and will get along with the personnel. Sometimes the human interaction or chemistry can be as important as skills. During the internship is the perfect time to express interest in getting a permanent position with the company, so urge your interns to speak up now.

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