How to Turn Your Internship Into a Permanent Job

Last summer I started my first ever internship, remote, during the Covid-19 pandemic. I was desperate to turn my role into a permanent job, but with only four weeks to impress my manager over Zoom and among a team with three other interns, the odds were not in my favor.

But now, nearly a year later, I’m in a full-time job, leading the content marketing for the same company! I’m even about to get my own intern!

Every intern’s dream is to turn their short stint in the workplace into their first permanent job. But it can be hard to know what to focus on because adjusting to the workplace can be overwhelming.

So how did I do it? And how can you take your future into your own hands and turn your internship opportunity into a full-time job?

Choose carefully

Before you think about turning your internship into a permanent role, you need to pick the right one.

Choosing the right internship program

To improve your chances of scoring a permanent job after your internship ends, you need to pick the right one.

You could be the best intern – or even employee – that a company has ever had. But if there is no room for your job full-time, then you’re fighting a losing battle.

Look out for:

  • An internship that aligns with your professional goals. You’ll inevitably perform better in a role that you enjoy.
  • Some kind of training element. The best internship programs are a great learning experience. They’re geared towards development and often come with career advice too.
  • Job descriptions that advertise the possibility that the role might become permanent. But not all companies do this!
  • Paid internships. If a company is happy to run an unpaid internship program, then they probably don’t value you enough to consider offering you a full-time position. Don’t waste your time and talent on an unpaid internship.

Choosing the right company:

Choosing the right internship is about more than applying to the perfect job. It’s about doing some research into the company.

Look out for:

  • Fast-growing startups. You’re more likely to become invaluable in your job when you’re the only dedicated person on the team doing it. Startups are a great place to take on a lot of responsibility and make yourself indispensable. Believe me, I know!
  • The right kind of leadership. Is your supervisor someone with experience in your field? A manager that started in a similar place will be better equipped to help you grow.

What is the probability of an internship becoming a permanent job?

An internship is what you make it. As someone who works for DigitalGrads, a junior recruitment company, we see lots of internships convert to full-time roles.
But it’s important that you don’t just score an internship and hope it converts. You’ve got to outperform yourself to really impress and become a permanent employee.

The question isn’t how often do internships turn into real jobs; it’s how often does an intern impress their manager enough to be offered a full-time role?

How to surpass your supervisor’s expectations as an intern

1 – Volunteer

It’s easy to just put your head down and get on with your work. But flying under the radar isn’t enough when you want to become a necessary part of the team and score a job offer.

I really recommend being bold and volunteering for as many tasks as you can. Internships are about learning and gaining skills, so it’s really important that you make the most of yours.

You need to show that you’ve got passion, drive, and the ability to get stuck in and help a team.

2 – Be proactive

But before you volunteer for every single task, make sure that you have enough time.

We’ve had interns in the past that have been awful. They’ve done the bare, unproductive minimum.

It’s really important to manage your time and be as proactive as you can. No one wants to be remembered as the person that couldn’t meet a deadline. You want to be reliable.

3 – Be social

My internship experience was completely remote, which means that it was hard to remember to socialize with my team members!

To score a permanent role, you need to be efficient, skilled, and liked by your team. So please make the most of your meetings and strike up conversations that aren’t about work.

If your manager likes you as a person, they will be far more likely to dread the day your internship finishes.

4 – Speak up

Some companies really don’t value their junior employees. But if you are lucky enough to work for a manager that listens to your ideas, take advantage of this.

Your ideas for the company aren’t any less valid than senior management’s. In fact, an outsider perspective is invaluable. Odds are, your ideas are just what they’re looking for.

Saying what’s on your mind can be hard, but one of the quickest ways to make a great impression on a manager is to speak up. You want to be known as the intern with lots of ideas and enthusiasm!

5 – Learn

If you’re going for an internship, odds are you don’t have much work experience.

Internship programs were built to help you learn lots of skills fast. So to stand out, you need to be a great learner.

In my internship – which was heavily writing-focused – I also managed a personal blog. So my evenings and weekends were focused on building the skills that I was already using in my role.

This means that I was able to learn really quickly, and I can’t recommend it enough. So set yourself some homework! You’ll become a better learner and employee because of it.

How do you ask for a full-time job after an internship?

Now I didn’t have to ask for my permanent role, but this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be proactive to secure your job offer.

Just because you have to ask doesn’t mean that your chances of getting a permanent job offer are zero. Most people have to be direct with their managers and ask for what they want, whether that’s a pay rise, promotion, or a permanent role!

So firstly, you want to schedule some one-on-one time with your manager. Ideally, you will have been having these kinds of meetings regularly already!

Next, you need to make your plan of attack. Come to the meeting armed with examples of your best work from your internship and statistics to back up your case. Maybe your articles created the most conversions last month, or you brought in 5 high-paying clients.

Focus on your biggest accomplishments – the things that make you an invaluable member of the team.

Try to remember to focus on being thankful for this opportunity and any chance that it could be extended.

Don’t wait until your last day to have this talk with your manager. One or two weeks before you’re due to leave should be plenty of time to secure your permanent job offer.

Sample speech

  • “I just want to thank you so much for all of your help. I’ve loved my time here and I am so thankful. I really feel like I’ve grown tremendously: I’ve [something you have accomplished] and [statistic to back up your skills].
  • “My time with you is coming to an end soon but I would love the opportunity to stay. Do you have any permanent positions available?”

Sample email

If you can’t get hold of your supervisor for a one-to-one, you can send this email instead:

Hi [Manager’s name],

As you know, my internship is coming to an end soon, and I just want to thank you so much for all of your help.

Throughout my internship, I’ve loved my time here, and I am so thankful. I really feel like I’ve grown tremendously: I’ve [something you have accomplished] and [statistic to back up your skills].

I am starting the process of searching for a permanent job, but I would love the opportunity to stay at [company name]. Do you have any positions available?

Thank you again,
[Your name]

Related: How to Ask for Full-Time Position After Internship (+ Email Samples)

What to do if they say no

The worst thing that your employer can do is say no. But even if that happens, your chances of scoring a full-time job aren’t ruined.

Try to stay in touch with your favorite colleagues and manager over email, LinkedIn, and any other professional social media sites (don’t add them on Facebook, though!)

Some companies constantly cycle through interns for low-cost labor, so be sure to send thank you messages, engage with their social media posts and check in on your colleagues from time to time to stay in the forefront of their minds.

Keep sharpening your skills and politely enquiring about any opportunities – you never know, a permanent position could open up for you in a few weeks!

What should you do after an internship ends?

If it all doesn’t go to plan, I recommend taking some time to reflect on what you’ve learned to spruce up your CV and portfolio.

If you didn’t score a full-time position from your internship job, you’ve still gained valuable skills along the way that will help you with your job search.

There are plenty of other paid internship opportunities out there that could lead to your dream job.

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Website: DigitalGrads

Daisy Hanson is a Content Marketing Executive at DigitalGrads, the graduate training and recruitment platform. We're on a mission to match talented university grads with innovative employers.