Internships are a great opportunity to gain real-world experience and learn new skills. While no company can guarantee a job offer at the end of an internship, it’s not uncommon for exceptional interns to be offered the opportunity to move into a full-time role.

If you’re completing an internship, it’s important to see it as a foundation to a potential ongoing relationship with that employer – whether that’s an immediate job offer, or a permanent role further down the track. Here’s how to make the most of an internship and maximise your chances of landing a job offer at the end of it.

Set goals for your internship

An important first step is to define your goals and the skills you’d like to learn during your internship experience. When the opportunity arises, you should also communicate these goals to your manager and make sure you understand what the company’s expectations are of you.

If you have friends or family that have interned before, it’s highly useful to ask them what their goals were. Take the time to consider what you can do for both yourself and the team during your internship.

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Don’t be afraid to ask questions

Employers like to see interns who are engaged and eager to learn. Demonstrate your curiosity about areas of the business that you’re interested in learning more about – and remember there’s no such thing as a stupid question.

The more you learn about the company, the easier it will be to assess how you might fit in on a permanent basis. Asking questions about your tasks and how they fit into the goals and strategies for your team, and the organisation, will be helpful in both the short and long term.

Take the initiative

While working hard and finishing the tasks assigned to you is essential, it’s also important to demonstrate as much initiative as possible, as an intern. Spend time finding out how company software and in-house systems work. Try to anticipate what you could do next and ask for more work when you find you’re coming to the end of a particular assignment.

Never be afraid to speak up and ask how you can help if your tasks are complete. However, be conscious of how everyone else is operating because if you continue to complete your work quickly, it means you manager needs to keep assigning you new work, which can be disruptive. Ensure you are completing tasks thoroughly and not rushing in order to impress. If you’ve genuinely run out of work, ask your manager if you can shadow them or someone else in the workplace. By doing this, you might get an opportunity to work in a different area and extend your skillset. At the very least, you will get an understanding of someone else’s role and how they fit into the organisation. If you happen to build good rapport with others, they might remember you and recommend you for upcoming opportunities.

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Be professional

Always dress the way you’d like to be perceived in the workplace, and adhere to the company’s dress code – whether it’s in-person or virtually, depending on the arrangement. Observe official office hours, and arrive/login early if you can so you can be prepared to start work when office hours begin.

Being professional also extends to use of work emails: it’s fine to use email to share a joke or two occasionally, but it should always be respectful and primarily used for work purposes.

Get to know everyone

Make an effort to meet and greet everyone, from the receptionist to the CEO. A good first impression can go a long way for an intern.​ ​Start the day with a smile, ask to be included in meetings where appropriate, say ‘thank you’ when people give you a brief for a task and always strive to be helpful to your co-workers.

Getting to know people is also a great way to grow your professional network, which could open doors for your future career – whether that’s in a permanent role at the same company or another company further down the track.

Find a mentor

Seek out co-workers or managers who are willing to impart their professional knowledge and act as a mentor to you. This is not only a beneficial learning opportunity, but in the right circumstances, these people will also become champions for you and share with others that you’re a valuable asset to the company.

Make yourself indispensable

Be willing to do all the jobs that people don’t want to do – and execute them well. Find ways to smooth over someone else’s job so that it makes life measurably easier for them. Your colleagues will value your contribution and you’ll boost your chances of being offered a permanent position.

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