How to turn your summer internship into a job

Katie Pizzi Travia, VSB Class of '03

Summer will be here before you know it, and soon you’ll be preparing for your summer job. The internship and job market are competitive nowadays with students requiring internships earlier in their college careers to help build up their attraction to companies. But getting that coveted internship is half the battle. You haven’t won the battle until you get the offer to return again the following year, whether it’s a full-time job or an invitation to intern again. Everyone wants that offer regardless of whether you accept it. As someone who has managed formal summer programs across some of Wall Street’s finest institutions, I’ve got a few tips for my fellow Villanovans to help you perform well this summer and get that offer! 

Do a little spring cleaning

You’ve got some work to do before the internship. Clean up your presence on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. Check your pictures and comments to make sure its nothing your mother wouldn’t want to see. You are going to be meeting people this summer and establishing professional relationships, which may lead to “friend” requests. Make sure you are portraying the right image to your future coworkers. If you need help, try Social Sweeper—an app that reviews your Facebook and Twitter accounts to help you identify red flag comments and photos. Be sure to Google yourself and check the images to ensure nothing surprising exists there as well! 

Get on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is eliminating the need for business cards and hardcopy resumes. Get on it if you aren’t already. Add a picture, write some content and start building your professional presence. Everyone uses it for networking, finding jobs and maintaining contacts. Villanova has great LinkedIn groups to join, which will help you build your network, especially with the Villanova alumni community—a very powerful network. Throughout the summer, make sure you connect with anyone you meet on LinkedIn. 

Make the effort with the team

You may be one intern joining a team of two, 10 or 20. Your team will only have to get to know you while you’ll need to get to know 20 people. Ask for a team roster and start taking notes about the people you meet to help you remember names. Make it a goal to get to know everyone’s name quickly and set up time to get to know them. The more proactive you are in getting to know the team, the more eager they will be to work with you and get you involved in meetings, projects, etc. In addition, get a good understanding of the team dynamics and company culture. For example, ask your manager about work hours and lunch practices. 

Ask questions

All-star interns take the time to review the project, understand it, ask the right questions and work independently to complete it. It’s important that you understand what you are doing and how to do it. If you don’t, always ask questions rather than assume you know the answer or the right way to do it.

Set up weekly meetings

Schedule weekly meetings with your manager for one-on-one time and feedback. You want to know at all times how you are performing. Make sure you are getting developmental feedback so you know what to work on. There should be no surprises at the end of the summer about the offer decision if you stick to these meetings and seek constant feedback.

Go above and beyond

You’ll want to review your goals and projects with your manager the first week. Focus on achieving those goals, but also seek stretch assignments. Does your team need an updated roster if no one had one that first week? Are there procedure documents or new hire guides? Is there something that could be done better? Ask yourself all those questions and then go answer them. If you worked on a big project during the summer, present on it at the end of the summer to your team or senior management. It will show your passion for your work and allow you to exercise your presentation skills. 

You aren’t used to waking up at 6am right now. It will be an adjustment. Don’t be late for work, meetings, events, etc. Make it a habit to get to the office 20 – 30 minutes before your scheduled start time. That way you have a buffer for commuting issues, and you’ll have to a chance to catch up on the news or emails before everyone else gets into the office.

Send your manager a daily or weekly email of what you did including a status of any ongoing assignments. It will keep you organized. It will inform your manager of how you are spending your time and progressing with your goals. Lastly, it will provide a good baseline for you and your manager for your formal performance reviews.

Network. Network. Network. 

Network with your team, other managers and other interns. If you are in a formal program, meet with the interns regularly. Find Villanova alums at the company to network with (use LinkedIn if you need help). Build your network at the company and capitalize on your time to maximize your learning opportunities. Just be sure to keep performing in your job, and do not let networking negatively affect your performance. 

Be a sponge

You are going to embark on a great learning experience. Not just in the actual work you’ll be doing, but by taking in the office environment, company culture, team dynamics and much more. Learn. Absorb. Take notes. Carry a notebook or iPad to write, remember and question.  Most importantly, don’t forget to smile.