How to turn your internship into a full-time job

Sara Herbel, talent acquisition campus manager at RSM US LLP, shares her advice.

A few months have passed and your internship is going well — so well, in fact, that you hope you receive a full-time job offer once it ends. How can you make this happen? What do you need to do to impress your supervisors so they hire you once the internship is over? We posed these questions to Sara Herbel, talent acquisition campus manager at RSM US LLP. Roughly 85% to 95% of the firm's interns — hailing from schools from California State University, Fullerton, to Florida State University — return as full-time employees, she said. Here is her advice:

Adopt the five C’s

RSM looks for five key traits when interviewing and working with interns. The first is to be curious, followed by courageous and caring. In addition, be a good team player, or collaborator, and understand that everyone brings different insights and passions to the table. Finally, be a critical thinker, with the ability and patience to address business challenges. "If you are curious you are asking questions," Herbel said. "And if you are courageous you are not afraid to ask questions, and that means you are thinking through critical problems."

Build your network

Use your time as an intern to build a strong network, which could later help in your career. Get involved in office activities, and interact with not only your immediate team but also with others outside that circle. "Building relationships in any professional setting is extremely important," Herbel said. "The more people you are able to meet and get to know, that will help you to broaden your horizons."

Be professional

Be mindful of your behavior when dealing with both colleagues and clients. Adopt a positive attitude and let it show. Audit interns will regularly visit client sites, but tax interns also work with clients on occasion, and it's important to not only be approachable and humble, but professional, too, Herbel said.

Learn and absorb

During your internship, learn as much as you can and retain what you learn. Take notes so people do not have to repeat information they give you. Ask for feedback regarding your work. "It could be a year out before being hired, and the more you learn during your internship, the easier it will be as a full-time associate," Herbel said.

Stay in touch

Once your internship ends, maintain contact with key people at the firm or company, whether or not you were already hired. "For interns who may have not received an offer right after their internships, I would encourage them to stay in touch — whether via email or over the phone or trying to meet up for coffee," she advised.

Be bold

If you are passionate about your internship and want to be hired by the firm or company once it ends, make this known. Interns are often afraid to speak up, but there is nothing wrong with stating, "This is where you want to be," Herbel said. "You never know — the answer could be, 'Yes.'"

By Cheryl Meyer, a California-based freelance writer

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