Will my internship lead to a graduate role?

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Internships can be a great way for ambitious students to get ahead, but the ultimate question is: do internships lead to graduate opportunities?

The answer to that amorphous question is YES – if you do the right things. The truth is, as an intern, you have to be ready for anything. From day one, you have to treat your internship as a real job. It is those students who take a long term perspective who have a better chance of obtaining a graduate job. However, the most important element in your first week is making a great first impression. As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

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Let’s face it, employers jump to conclusions about interns almost straight away, much of this stems from your body language. If you are yawning in meetings, looking out of the window while people are talking to you or just lounging around at your desk, then employers will struggle to take you seriously.

The key here is to appear positive and enthusiastic, this may sound cliché, but many people underestimate the importance of smiling, making eye contact and being generally interested in what other people are saying. A great first impression definitely does matter.

It is extremely difficult to obtain an internship and those that do get one have another challenge of trying to stand out amongst other interns.

  • Employers look for students with enthusiasm and an eagerness to learn. Try to learn as much as you possibly can, not only about the department you are in, but about the company and even the industry as a whole.
  • You can show this by speaking up and asking questions, as an intern you will have many questions which you may think are ‘dumb’ but it is better to ask and not make a crucial mistake. Asking questions shows your willingness to learn and develop your knowledge.
  • Volunteering for projects and contributing ideas/opinions may be something the rest of the interns have not picked up on; this shows the employer that you have what it takes to contribute to company’s success and also shows a willingness to share your ideas in pursuit of organizational goals. No matter how big or small the idea, try and make yourself heard.
  • There are times when a task or project comes up that no one wants to do, you should be willing to do any tasks and take up any opportunities presented to you – employers will notice and appreciate it. Those who shy away from opportunities tend to limit themselves and do not fully participate in the internship experience.
  • Keep busy and don’t wait for work to come to you, actively create work and get ahead.
  • Whilst maintaining relationships with your clients is important, most of your time on internships will be spent with your co-workers and it is vital to make an effort to get to know them. Ask them questions and build personal relationships with them, you never know, you might need their help one day!
  • Networking is key. Although it is not all about who you know, making good relations within the company, especially with people who have influence, could lead to bigger opportunities in the future. Not only is it crucial to build & maintain relationships during the internship, but also to stay in touch with your employer and co-workers. All it requires is an email asking how things are going and maybe some updates on what you are working on.
  • Showing a genuine interest to keep in touch can provide opportunities for networking and ultimately increases your chances of obtaining a graduate job.

Working as a brand ambassador

This year I worked as a Brand Ambassador for Hewlett-Packard which required me to promote the internship and graduate opportunities at HP. What makes the opportunities at HP unique is the focus on personal development, such as mentoring by a colleague and a structured development plan to get the most out of the intern or graduate scheme.

I have learnt how multi-faceted and innovative HP are as a company and as an intern/graduate you get to see how HP are changing the way things are done in the film industry, the UK public sector and also the community with partners such as the Prince’s Trust.

HP wants interns and graduates to see themselves as part of HP’s future and this mentality leads to many of the interns successfully returning as graduates.

Students should apply for HP as they get to work on live projects and have real responsibility from day one, obtaining an intern or graduate position at HP will enhance your career in many ways.

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