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7 tips to secure a full-time job offer from an internship

Published March 21, 2024| minute read
Dhara Singh

Senior Associate, JPMorgan Chase

    Securing a job offer after an internship is a goal for many college students. However, figuring out how to make this leap isn’t always obvious for those in the midst of an internship. After all, internships are usually for a set amount of time, and a job is rarely guaranteed when you complete an internship.

    That said, internships are highly valuable when it comes to securing full-time employment. A study by the Endicott Research Center found that 53% of new hires said their internship or the connections made through their internship led to their current job offer.

    From networking to showing a genuine interest in working for the company you’re interning for, keep reading as we break down a few strategies that may increase your chances of getting a post-internship offer letter.

    1. Seek out internships that offer a pipeline to full-time roles

    While a good portion of turning an internship into a full-time role will happen when you’re in an internship, if you want to turn an internship into full-time employment, a great place to begin is by picking the right role from the start.

    Look for internships with a strong pipeline into full-time employment or post-college training programs to better your chances of securing a full-time job from an internship. If this pipeline isn’t apparent, ask during your internship interviews how likely it may be to land a full-time job. Or, seek out informational interviews with people at companies where you’re interested in pursuing an internship to find out how often interns land full-time roles where they work.

    2. Build as many connections as you can from your internship

    You may have heard about the importance of networking throughout your college and early professional career. Networking – in the same vein – can be highly valuable during an internship, particularly for those seeking a full-time job from the experience.

    Factors outside your control, such as budgets and team needs, may prevent you from scoring a full-time role on your team, even if you're a star intern. This is where networking can come in. Building connections with people throughout the company you’re working for may help you secure a role with another team or ensure that you’re kept top of mind for any openings that arise after you’ve left an internship.

    “There’s a lot of great positions — at least 60%, I’d say — that never make it to the public job boards, which really surprises a lot of people,” Stacey Perkins, a career and leadership coach at recruiting firm Korn Ferry, told CNBC, pointing to the value of building relationships when it comes to landing a job.

    If you're unsure how to build connections, consider attending internal company events to meet people or join special interest groups (if they exist) at the company you’re interning for to meet people. If your company offers “lunch and learns” during your internship program, consider attending these and meeting the different subject matter experts who lead the sessions. You never know who you can network with and what opportunities they may introduce you to.

    3. Use your internship to showcase your work ethic

    One significant factor in landing a full-time role from an internship will come down to your ability to showcase your work ethic. The term work ethic gets tossed around quite a bit, but what does that mean? In short, think of it as your ability to show dedication to your role.

    What does this look like in practice at an internship? You should be able to demonstrate reliability, initiative, and dedication. Start by consistently arriving on time and meeting or exceeding deadlines, showing you can be counted on. Take initiative by actively seeking out new tasks or projects and being willing to learn. Demonstrate your dedication by paying attention to detail and striving for quality in everything you do.

    Now, even if you’re doing everything possible to demonstrate a strong work ethic, it might not always get noticed by your manager and team (people are busy)! For this reason, consider sharing your progress with your manager regularly to ensure they know about your work and diligence.

    Ultimately, even if your company has no full-time openings after your internship is complete, your manager, who's seen your strong work ethic in action, can potentially be a reference when you apply for jobs.

    4. Work to build a solid reputation among your team

    Your reputation, even as an intern, will mean a lot when it comes to securing a full-time role. And there are some habits that you can implement into your work life to build on your reputation.

    First and foremost, professionally conducting yourself is important. This may mean wearing the required attire at work (use your boss and team as an example when figuring out what’s best). It may also mean making sure to follow your company’s culture when corresponding on email or other communication channels. And lastly, be on time! This means both the workday and meetings.

    Beyond the basics, start to develop a reputation as a team player. If your manager has a heavy workload, and you can help (and you regularly volunteer to do so), it may paint you positively. In the same vein, volunteering to help others on your team where and when you can, will start to position you as an asset to the team.

    5. Be proactive when it comes to improving your performance

    When you’re in an internship, it’s easy to think of your time in the role as finite, but if you want to turn your internship into a full-time role, you may want to position yourself as there for the long term. And that means taking steps to improve your performance.

    Sometimes, something as simple as asking your manager questions can alert them that you're genuinely engaged in your internship experience and want to learn and grow. Asking questions may give you clarity and the right help to complete your tasks effectively, too.

    Beyond regularly asking questions, solicit feedback from your manager and team members. Sometimes, internship programs have performance reviews built into them, so this feedback loop will happen naturally. In other internships, you’re going to have to take the initiative to seek out feedback.

    6. Don’t underestimate the importance of face time

    If your internship offers you a choice between remote or in-person work, and you want to turn this role into a full-time opportunity, you may want to consider choosing the latter. This may be particularly true if your manager and higher-ups are in the office regularly.

    While being a remote intern isn't a deal breaker for receiving a full-time job offer, according to an analysis by job change and human capital insights provider Live Data Technologies, people working from home got promoted 31% less frequently in 2023 than those based in the office. They also found that remote workers are less likely to receive mentorship.

    Being in an office and building relationships may create opportunities for growth opportunities. It will also allow you to get to know a broader range of employees at the company you’re interning for — beyond just your team — which could increase your chances of securing full-time employment.

    7. Actually express interest in full-time employment

    An old saying goes, "If you never ask, you’ll never know." This may seem obvious, but if you want to turn an internship into a full-time gig, tell the people you work with – most importantly, your manager! Having a direct conversation with your manager early on in your internship about your prospects for full-time employment instead of waiting until the end of your internship can be a valuable starting point.

    This conversation will help your manager know your career goals, along with helping them direct you to internal openings if they aren’t ultimately able to hire you for their team.

    Final thoughts

    Even if you’re ultimately unable to turn an internship into a full-time job offer, if you put in the work to excel at an internship, it may pay dividends regardless in the form of recommendations or job leads down the line.