Just landed an internship? Consider yourself smiled on by the gods of employment. According to a 2016 report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, odds are now in your favor—73 percent to be exact—that you’ll come out the other side with a full-time job offer. Not bad!
Now, a reality check: Nothing is guaranteed in this world, and getting the internship may have been the easy part.
The truth is you’re now embarking on one giant job interview. Companies consider themselves lucky to be able to assess your performance during the internship before extending an offer. Send a poor message about your work ethic, character, or capability, and your job prospects will wane faster than you can say, “Just back to lifeguarding ’til I find something.”
Here are a few surefire ways to make sure you land the job.
1. Be Earlier Than On-Time
In a recent survey by CareerBuilder, more than one quarter of 3,600 workers polled admitted to showing up late at least once a month. That’s despite more than half of employers expecting employees to be on time every day.
Late is not a good look for anyone—but it’s especially bad for interns. It can send the message that you may take the opportunity for granted, or that you’re not capable of arriving on time.
Rushing in on time but frazzled is probably not great either. Rather, be early. Just five minutes. It’s probably the simplest thing you can do to indicate to your potential future employer that you’re responsible and, maybe more importantly, that you care.
2. Make Your Own Work
By their nature, internships are not always well-defined roles. Think about it: How could a critical job function come and go with the seasons, filled by someone with little to no work experience?
Granted, at larger, more-established companies there are often programs in place to make sure interns are contributing and learning. But interns at smaller or newer companies may well discover that their internships are project-based.
“Project-based” is sometimes code for “find something to work on lest wither the summer away twirling your thumbs.” So, here’s the sage advice: Stop at nothing to find something to work on, no matter how small the task. Knock on doors. Approach every cubicle. Ask everyone and anyone whether you can lend a hand somehow. Chances are there’s someone with a long to-do list and tasks to spare.
3. Reek of Breezy Competence
Picture this: Interns start out as small, delicate seeds, and the internship is the soil your employer plants you in so that you can sprout and grow. When the season passes, if all goes according to plan, you will have bloomed into a flower that your boss can’t help but pick.
But that flower thrives on recognition and competence, and the only way to receive or demonstrate those is to do something well.
It may sound straightforward, but doing a good job requires more than finishing something on time or to completion. Not only should you double, triple check your work for accuracy, you should take pains to contextualize the assignment so that you can execute it with maximum value-add. How does it fit into the big picture, so that you can improve a process that’s bigger than your portion of it?
4. Go Easy on the Phone Use
Quick, flashback to the time when society functioned well and people did their jobs without much fuss. They had ample attention spans and were grateful to be employed. The wheels of commerce seemed to turn and turn, and… smartphones didn’t exist yet.
Alas, in today’s technology-obsessed world it’s not so easy to leave your phone untouched all day. But what is possible? Keeping your phone use in check. Don’t turn to Instagram the moment you finish a task, and respond to text messages and make your phone calls at lunch.
5. Network, Network, Network. Network. And, Network.
I’ve saved the most important point for last. Networking is a huge part of being an intern. It’s your chance to gather information, build your contacts list, and charm the pants off whoever will take 30 minutes out of their day to meet with you.
Networking doesn’t have to be an exercise in pleasantries. Feel free to ask honest questions about what people do and don’t like about their roles, and how they got where they are today. Their answers could recalibrate your thinking and inform your next move.
Remember, you’ve already landed the internship so now it’s your job to show your boss why they should keep you around, permanently. Follow these tips, put your best foot forward, and you may just land yourself the full-time gig.