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  • An internship can lead to a full-time position after college, but a job offer isn’t guaranteed.
  • Making the most out of your internship can increase your chances of success.
  • That includes doing your best work, making connections, and finding a mentor.

The right internship can be a stepping stone toward a great job after college. According to career site Zippia, 70% of interns are eventually hired by the company they interned with. But you aren’t guaranteed a position at the end of your internship, especially if you graduate during a competitive job market. Doing your best and making the most out of your experience can pay off in the long run. Here are some potential ways to turn a virtual or in-person internship into a job offer.

1. Do your best work

There are lots of ways to build a positive reputation, make a good impression, and ultimately build trust with your new team. The obvious things are non-negotiable—showing up on time, being professional, respecting the company’s values and culture. Below are more ways to go above and beyond:

  • Complete all assignments early or on time.
  • Demonstrate clear communication, which includes asking questions and showing that you’re interested in the work.
  • Take initiative and volunteer for more opportunities.
  • Look for ways to make life easier for the people you report to, like offering to take administrative tasks off their shoulders.
  • Share any ideas you might have that could help your team reach its goals (just be sure to balance listening so you don’t overstep).
  • Request feedback from your manager and team throughout your internship to understand where you are excelling and where you can improve.

To be clear, this doesn’t mean sucking up to your manager, letting people take advantage of you, or presenting an unauthentic version of yourself. On the contrary, the idea is to show up as your best self every day.

2. Make connections

During your internship, it’s wise to build relationships with the people around you. Stay connected with manager, other interns, and employees working in different roles throughout the company. If your internship offers lunch-and-learns and other networking opportunities, be sure to take advantage of those too.

Reach out to people you’ve met and set up quick coffee chats. You might be surprised by how many people are eager to share their experience. Ask them about their time at the company, what they did before coming there, and what their career path has looked like. They may offer valuable advice and provide letters of recommendation, referrals, or LinkedIn® endorsements. You can even ask them for suggestions on who you should connect with next. Think of it as a simple way to grow your professional network.

3. Seek out a mentor

While making these connections, keep your eye out for a potential mentor. Some internships even have official mentorship or buddy programs to make things a little easier. A good mentor may be someone who:

  • Seems happy to answer your questions
  • Checks in on you to see how you’re doing
  • Is in a position you want to learn more about
  • Is doing work you’d love to be doing someday

High-level managers may not have capacity to take you under their wing, but recent college grads who aren’t much older than you can be great mentors. Chances are they have more availability—and they probably remember what it was like to be an intern. Cast a wide net when it comes to finding a mentor.

4. Look beyond the company

Future job prospects don’t have to be limited to the company you’re interning with. Taking a broader view could lead to other career opportunities. During your internship, pay attention to:

  • Clients: Who does the company work with? That can include start-ups, mid-size companies, and large corporations. Pay attention to who you meet along the way and be sure to connect on LinkedIn.
  • Other companies: If you gain valuable skills and experience through your internship, that could appeal to a competing company after you graduate. Your résumé might also translate to a similar role in a different industry.
  • People you’ve worked with: It’s likely that managers, employees, and other interns will eventually move on to other companies. If they remember you as a great person to work with, you might come to mind when they hear about job opportunities with their new employer.

5. Evaluate your internship

You ultimately want a job that grows into a career you enjoy. During your internship, reflect on how you feel about the company and industry at large. Asking yourself the following questions can help you better evaluate your internship:

  • Do you like the industry? Does it feel aligned with your skills and interests?
  • Are there opportunities for growth? What does the career trajectory look like?
  • Does this type of job feel aligned with your values?
  • Is working for a socially responsible company important to you?
  • What do you like about your internship?
  • Is there anything you don’t like?

If your internship doesn’t feel right, it could be the team fit, the company, or it could mean something deeper. Talking to your academic advisor can help you explore these concerns and whether changing your major is warranted and how best to move forward.

How do you ask for a job offer after an internship?

Interested in spinning a job out of your internship? Show enthusiasm and ask about any full-time opportunities that may be available to new grads. Beyond that, be sure to keep in touch with the people you met during your internship, even if you don’t get a job offer. You never know when your paths might cross again. You can connect on LinkedIn, and don’t forget to update your profile with your internship experience.

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