At LaSalle, we've had a few people successfully translate their internships into successful, full-time positions here.
Jen Barton was an accounting intern for a year at LaSalle before going full-time as a Staff Accountant, and Mike Talian spent 4 months as a Sales Intern before he finished his degree and returned as an Account Executive on our Sales Team.
[caption id="attachment_7789" align="alignleft" width="275"] Jen Barton, Staff Accountant[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_7790" align="alignleft" width="263"] Mike Talian, Business Development Manager[/caption]
We asked Jen and Mike for advice on how to get the most from an internship, and how to build the experience into a career. Here's what they said:
Don't be afraid to make mistakes... and know when to ask for help
Mike: During your internship, your goal should be to learn as much as possible. Get out of your comfort zone, and challenge yourself! Don't be afraid to make mistakes, because that's how you grow and develop.
At the same time... know when to ask for help. When you're an intern, you're out to prove yourself, and you want to do as much as you can alone. But it also goes a long way with peers and management when you can come to them for guidance. They've been where you are, and they're always happy to help.
Ask questions and make suggestions
Jen: When I started as an intern our CFO told me, “Don’t just do things to do them. Understand what you are doing, and then question it. Is there a better way to do it? Does this method or task make sense? That is how we get better as team and grow.”
This advice is one of the most valuable things I have learned in my career. You grow and learn by questioning things, and it helps you gain a better understanding of your work... even if you are only asking yourself these questions.
As an intern, if you find a better way to do something, you're contributing and doing the job more efficiently. Finding a faster or better way to finish a task could also mean you have more time to work on a new project, too.
Always ask for more!
Mike: Don't settle, and always ask for more. If your goal is to stay with a company long-term, then you should show initiative. Don't just get your work done and then check out for the day. Ask what else you can do, and ask for feedback on your performance from peers and managers. It's the only way to know where you stand!
Take the internship seriously
Jen: Look at the opportunity as a job and not just an internship. Work hard at it. Just because you are an intern doesn’t mean the work you are doing is not important. If you are filing, file everything quickly and efficiently. If you are entering data, try not to make typos.
Obviously mistakes happen, but I think sometimes internships comes with the connotation that you will be doing some of the “dirty work” and it doesn’t matter if you don’t do it well.
That's not the right attitude.
The more seriously you take your current responsibilities, the faster you will get the chance to do more. Everyone has to start somewhere. Working hard shows you care and that your worth ethic affects every aspect of your job.
If you know what you want... go for it
Jen: I think a lot of people, including myself at one point, don’t know what they want to do while in school or when they finish. This is totally understandable, but it makes it harder to work toward something and be motivated.
It's important to evaluate what you want out of life and your job, and my internship did that for me in a big way. I fell in love with LaSalle, and I realized quickly that I wanted a full-time position.
So I went for it! I wanted to prove I could be an asset to the team. That drive is what kept me going, even when classes were hard and the hours were long. I worked at LaSalle while taking classes, and I took whatever hours I could during spring and winter breaks.
My motivation pushed me through my senior year because the light at the end of the tunnel was potentially getting to work at LaSalle.
Even if you don’t intern at a place you want to stay at long-term, the experience could help you figure out what you want or don’t want after graduation and in the future.