internship, career, post grad jobs, how to get a job after college, summer internship
Turning your internship into a career Turning your internship into a career
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Grow Your Career

Turning your internship into a career

Three grads who successfully made the jump

It's a new graduate's dream: Turning a college internship into a promising career path. It's not always easy, but after years of sparse internship openings for college students during the Great Recession, opportunities are finally on the upswing.

Last summer, the number of reported internships nationwide rose by 3 percent, to about 118,400, from the previous year. That means more placement opportunities for the 65 percent of 2016 bachelor's degree graduates who participated in an internship and/or co-op, as outlined by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

For further inspiration that it is possible to land an internship and turn it into a job, look no further than these entry-level employees.

Discovering a genuine love of the work

Ingrid Frahm's story is illustrative of how persistence pays off. Frahm, 22 years old, studied strategic communications and art at Elon University. She sent countless emails to magazine contacts, hoping to land an art/design internship. In the end, it was her eager, motivated approach that made her stand out. For example: She always made it easy for her contact to say 'yes' to her email inquiries by asking for resume feedback or for a coffee meeting instead of asking outright for an internship.

Her focus paid off: During the summer before her senior year, Frahm earned an internship at a celebrity-style magazine. The team was impressed by her desire to learn everything from layout to shoot production. "I told them how much I wanted to be a part of the organization," she says. "People want to employ passionate people, so don't hide your enthusiasm."

What she loved: The team, their ease of collaboration and the importance placed on creativity at all levels.

The turning point: "I knew I needed to figure out how to stay," Frahm says, "so I tried to treat the entire summer as if it were one long interview." She also kept in touch with her supervisor and team members, who later hired her as an art assistant upon graduation.

Finding a balance of two skill sets

Abby Hawley, who recently graduated with a bachelor of science degree in business administration and marketing, had a similar experience. She tenaciously communicated with her internship supervisor at a media publisher and, eventually, turned her consumer marketing internship into a full-time role as assistant marketing manager. She targeted the company during the summer after her sophomore year, and received the coveted internship before many of her peers even began the application process.

What she loved: The elite brands she was exposed to, and their premier reputation, as well as the opportunity to regularly apply both creative thinking and business tactics. She also applauds the people on staff who were talented, patient and willing to explain their process and strategies to her.

The turning point: Hawley kept in touch with her supervisor—and not just with random "hello" emails. "I shared case studies I was doing in college and commented on recent industry news," she says. When the time came for Hawley to go job-hunting, her former supervisor short-listed her for a role that opened on the same team right as she graduated.

Realizing a mutual respect and appreciation

Todd Leonard understands the power of building a network. The recent media arts and entertainment-cinema graduate knows what it takes after transitioning from marketing intern to production coordinator. He had an in-person, informational interview over spring break of his senior year at a New York-based targeted television advertising company, and quickly landed a summer internship.

What he loved: The work environment and open floor plan. "It was nice to be able to meet people easily, and it definitely fostered a culture of togetherness. I also liked the work I was doing [conceptualizing and planning a big event]. So having the people trust in me to get valuable work done fostered personal growth."

The turning point: In addition to specialized skills, Leonard had timing on his side, too. The event he helped plan was scheduled for a month after his summer internship ended, which made bringing him on-board full time a swift and timely decision by the leadership team.

He credits his ability to land the job to making himself as useful as possible, completing tasks—no matter how big or small—with a genuine smile. "Beyond the great work you do while being an intern, how you do these things is also important."

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