Convert Your Internship Into a Full-Time Offer

Uncategorized Jul 06, 2022

It’s a Conversation With Your Boss

In an internship and then looking to convert that into a full time opportunity? A good place to start would be to have a conversation with your manager, with your direct boss.

She may not be the one who makes the decision - but it’s where to start

Now your direct boss may not be the one that ultimately makes that decision, but that's where we start to “raise the flag up the flag pole” in case that question needs to be addressed by another person who oversees the budget for new hires, to see if there's a headcount. Your boss may or may not have the headcount information or the authority - it can depend - and that's the place to start.

Have the conversation, no matter what.

Whether or not there is an opportunity for full time employment, it's good to express your interest in and intention to have a return offer. Absent having an extremely bad experience, this can be a smart move for you. The offer may only come if you ask for it, or show an intention to have it, and can be particularly useful to you in your fall recruiting. During fall recruiting, having an offer means immediate leverage in your discussions with future employers. Halfway through the internship, have the conversation.

Imagine this as part of your next weekly meeting

Let's say that you are meeting with your manager every week, starting each week by reviewing together your list of tasks. Or, let’s say that every Friday you send a message to your manager communicating your completed tasks for the week. “This is what I'm looking forward to working on next week” or whatever your communication style is with the manager - whether there's a lot of it or a little of it or somewhere in between - find a time to sit down with a manager. And in that request to have a sit-down meeting in person or over video, I would just generally ask for “some feedback about how the internship is going from your perspective”.

This is an open invitation for your manager to comment on what is working and what can be improved.
Just signaling your openness for feedback will be a point in your favor, whether you get it or not.

The language to use to set up the special meeting

It’s not, “May we have a meeting about my interest in sponsorship or, or full-time work?” That IS your interest, but be less direct. Less direct in your wording, you will make your manager less tense and more willing to have the meeting.

Instead, try this: “I'd love to sit down and have a chat with you about how things have been going in the internship, and whether you have any feedback for ways that I can support you and the team better.” That will be the language that will bring your manager to the table to have a broader discussion, and that will be the time to express your interest in having a return offer.

Whether it’s your manager or her superior that decides about an offer, always run this question “up the flag pole”. Always speak with your direct manager first so that you show you understand how a chain-of-command works.

How to have “the conversation” if you already meet regularly
What if you already have a standing meeting that repeats every week? Here is some example language that you can use:

“ As part of this meeting, in addition to discussion about the projects that we're working on, could I get some feedback on my progress to-date and whether there's any opportunity to improve or support the team better?”

or More simply, “As part of this meeting, could I get some feedback on how the internship is going from your perspective”?

The goal is to block off a short few minutes or add that topic as an agenda item, and not catch your manager by surprise that you want to have this discussion, or try to force this discussion into a time frame that would rush the conversation.

Finally revealing your interest in the full time offer

As part of that feedback discussion, you may reveal at that time your interest in the possibility of a return offer. First talk about the feedback, collect the feedback, good or bad, right? Never be defensive or react. Certainly ask clarifying questions if you’re not clear about what was said. In the long run, feedback is good and let the manager know that you really appreciate it. Let them know you plan to keep doing this or that well, or commit to doing this or that better. Then you can mention that part of the reason you are asking is because you would really love to return here in a fulltime capacity. And then you shut up, pause and listen for the response.

Listen to how they respond and read their body language. Is this person engaging you and are they engaged in that conversation? What are they saying? And then, if conversion is a possibility, what would be the next steps?

At this point we don’t assume that you will get “a yes” or “a no”. Make no assumptions. Just ask about what the next steps would be. And then the manager may say something like, “that's an interesting idea. In terms of headcount, I'll have to do this, this or this”, or “we could discuss that” or “I can explore that”.

They may or may not mention that this is a matter for their boss, or for another vice president or whatnot.

An if they say, well, this is a discussion that the has to be brought up with the vice president, then you would ask a follow on question, which would be “okay, that sounds good. When would be the right way to initiate that conversation?

It’s at that stage that they'll say, well, “we need to talk to the [boss / vice president ] and I can have that conversation, or they may say, “well, you could bring that up in your conversations with the vice president when you meet him or her at your next meeting.”

That's the permission you are looking for to then do the next thing, take the next step.

One way to demonstrate that you’re a good fit or that you know how to be a good employee, is to convey that you appreciate how these things work in an organization, that you’re sensitive to the different levels at which decisions are made and you understand not to try to jump levels and things like that.

Does HR play a role in your return offer?

HR will always look to the decision makers over the team in which you work to decide this question. Your team may or may not have the budget. Your team may or may not have had a great experience with you. It’s okay to ask HR whether there is a possibility in a return offer. If you did ask already, no problem. In all likelihood, they'll bounce the question back to you and say, “well, you know, we have to find out”. Rather than wait for HR to do anything about it, seek feedback from your manager and express interest in a return offer as a way to get that ball rolling.

What if I feel like I didn’t do much in my internship. Can I still ask about a return offer?

That's a valid question, especially in the era of remote work. The question raised a good point because sometimes the conclusion might be, “well, we haven't had the chance to see how you perform to really make a decision.”

Lack of impact or interaction - that's a valid concern, a concern that is okay to bring up in your conversation. Let’s say that it’s been a long process to gain the permissions you actually need to perform the data analysis you’ve been hired to do. In that case, you can share, “I realize it’s only been this week that I've been able to get the permissions needed to do the data analysis. My perception is that I’ve not been able to support your team in the way I’ve hoped”. Or, maybe you’ve been assigned little work. Here, as part of your feedback discussion, your point could be that you would like to have more work, and wether there is there a way to give you more work?

It could be that your manager just doesn’t know that your permissions have been slow in coming, so it maybe a good idea to update him or her as follows, “So just to update you, I have access to this, this, this, and this now, whereas previously I did not. So in the coming weeks, would it be possible to take on more, more work for you now that I have this access?”

Patience is a virtue

And of course, if not, that's okay. It already means a lot that they've brought you into the organization. Don't underestimate what it means to be brought into the organization, to even have the chance to be granted those permissions, even if it took you weeks to get them. And one of the things that could easily be going on here is that you just have a little impatience in wanting to contribute and get things done. The speed of work may be slower than what you would like it to be. That was my problem in my early jobs. I was very impatient. And part of it was just not understanding that, well, there's a pace of work here that people want to follow, and you need to figure that out. You need to appreciate that. So some of that is going on here, where you're plugging into this way of working. That's just different.

If you have concerns about the pace of work, you can let your manager know that this has been a concern of yours and that you'd like to be of as much assistance as possible. That is a good message to share.

The importance of continued networking as you seek the full time offer

Summer is an important time to be networking. So we're talking here. We are in the middle of the summer and just like you, there are thousands, tens of thousands of interns out there all getting considered and reviewed for full-time opportunities. And meanwhile, the fall recruiting hasn't really started. Correct, no one is doing campus recruiting right now, but the only reason fall recruiting would be successful for most people was if they had those referrals already in place.

So it doesn't matter if you're interning now, networking can help. If you're interning at a firm you eventually want to join, the return offer is the most direct path to a full-time role, but this is a great time to be networking. Even if you know that it’s too early to apply to another firm, think about it more broadly: Is it too early to have an impact in these companies that you want to join? No, it's not too early to start having conversations. Now that you've got experience on your resume, you can brand yourself as a current employee of a firm which will enhance your networking.

This is the time to be sharing your status as having a job with as many people and as broadly as you can. It would not be unreasonable for you to be hitting your weekly invitation limit of a hundred people a week on LinkedIn right now. It wouldn't be out of the question to be doing that kind of thing to be reaching out to wherever it is next that you would next like to work. Especially if you find that your internship doesn't keep you so busy and that you can actually re you have some time to do some networking and do research? Yeah. I would be getting on calls with people just like you were doing previously to get your current internship, except now we're talking about the full time opportunity.

Leverage your branding as an intern to get hired
People are going to be interested in you. Even though you may have graduated and are in an internship, now, you're not just a student anymore. You've got this brand on your resume. You've got a story to tell.
You have already been deemed hireable by another firm. So that means a lot to other firms.. Just like when I had my internship at Goldman Sachs. I was terrible. <laugh> <laugh> that was really bad. I couldn't do the things that they were asking me to do. Oh, that internship was a learning experience for me. Oh, these are the things I need to be able to do. Right. But for the firms that hired me after that, they were seeing that I had that branding, even if it was just an internship and I didn't get the return offer, they saw, oh, Goldman Sachs had offered this person a job at one point. Okay, great. And then, oh, UBS. You'd worked at UBS. Oh, okay.

Referrals: Making it easy for HR to help you

You either come into fall recruiting with referrals or without them. HR is just trying to do their job. Like all HR teams, they want to keep their jobs, and they wanna have an easier time in doing their job. They want it to be easy too. So how do you do make it easy for them? Get referred. As an HR professional, I keep my job easy and make my boss happy if I am first prioritising all of the referrals that come in for the fall interview slots. So for any hiring needs we have for full time work, I'm saving myself time, keeping my boss happy, keeping my job by prioritising all the referrals. And then yeah, if we need more people or yeah, we need to meet certain compliance requirements, okay, we'll post the job and yeah, we might have some resumes come in. Maybe thousands of resumes will pass the computer screen if there is one, but that does not mean that we're gonna go into those and do any deep digging. If I have already filled all the interview slots - if in two months I'm gonna have interviews and I can fill all those of those interview slots now, I've done my job. I've saved myself so much effort.

Don’t get caught up thinking about applicant tracking systems. Think about the people who are in those positions to invite you to interview and what their needs are. And if, if we can anticipate that these people have bosses and these people have jobs they want to keep and work that they want to have an easier tie of, then networking just becomes a natural choice. Of course, I need to go talk to people and get them to know me, get the right people, get the bosses to know me.

Networking means different things to different people. But basically right now, all it means is this: we are mostly invisible to our dream firms unless we introduce ourselves. Unless we take action, no one knows that we exist. It's okay. Some people do, the current firm knows that you exist. But what about the other people that we need to know, people that we want to know? We have to go out and reach out to them, just like a friend, like maybe you have a really good friend from high school.

Whenever you meet that person, you have a great time together. Things are great. It's just like you've saw each other last week, even though it's been a whole year. Now you have friends like that, which normally are not reaching out to you. People are just kind of like that.

Most people aren't reaching out. So you just become that person that reaches out reconnects with your old friends from high school, reaches out to the people in whatever firm so that they can get to know you. And like we've always been doing, we like to start with a couple cold calls and cold networking calls. But through that process, because we're asking for introductions, we can primarily rely on the warm introductions of other people. Right. So like not all of your networking calls in the past were always cold calls, right?


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