Dress for success. Looking accomplished and ready to take on a professional role is key if you want to extend your internship into a full time role. Even if the company you intern for or your specific job function has a casual dress code that doesn’t require you to wear a suit, don’t just assume you can show up for work in ripped jeans and a crumpled tee. Dress appropriately every time you report for duty at your internship. This means, at the very minimum, your clothes should be clean and wrinkle-free. By dressing professionally, you display the appearance of being more mature and serious about your career. Your colleagues may even consider you more knowledgeable and capable to take on increasingly challenging tasks than just the menial ones often relegated to lowly interns, like fetching coffee or making photocopies. Remember that old saying about how you should dress for the job you want? Well, if the job you want is a full time one, you better start dressing like you deserve it.
Be a happy worker. Never underestimate how a smile and an upbeat, can-do attitude will be appreciated and well-received in the workplace. If you’re always happy to help out around the department, you will be more likely to be approached in the future to participate in more projects. This in turn will make you more valuable to the other members of your team and to the company overall, which can be your greatest advantage when a full time staff position becomes available. People will always want to work and be around those they like and get along well with. Prove how personable and collaborative you can be with a workgroup and they will remember you the next time they have jobs to fill.
Use the opportunity to network. Many salaried positions these days are obtained through powerful networks. A glowing personal recommendation can do more for a job candidate than even the highest exam marks ever will. Even if the department or company you intern for cannot offer you a permanent position, you may still be able to leverage the connections you make there to find a job elsewhere. During your time as an intern, meet as many people in the company as possible. Work to build strong or at least genuine connections with those who are working in the roles you are most interested in. They may be a powerful asset in the future when you are job hunting.
Ask questions. Demonstrate your eagerness to learn. There’s little else that can impress future employers and colleagues than an intern who can ask smart questions and show a sincere interest in learning. By posing questions and listening to the answers, you exhibit initiative and a willingness to take on new challenges -- both key qualities found in good employees. You can be sure that your inquisitive and thoughtful mind will be recalled when it comes time to hire new staff members.
Don’t burn bridges. Even if your internship doesn’t end with a full time job offer, don’t allow your feelings of disappointment take your experiences and future prospects down in flames. Outside circumstances could have affected their decision and it may not have had anything to do with you or your performance as an intern. If you cut your losses and leave on a bad note, you destroy any future possibility of working with the company, these people, and your network associated through them. As a young university graduate, it’s too early in your career to burn bridges. Even if your internship does end on a sour note, remember to smile and thank everyone on your last day because you never know when your paths might cross again.