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Nell, a hiring expert from Pitney Bowes offers her advice on how to approach this important conversation.

Navigating the Internship to Full-Time Conversation

By Nell on July 28, 2016

 Written by Nell, University Relations at Pitney Bowes

Congratulations! You have landed your dream internship this summer. You are a rising senior with graduation in sight! You have taken an internship to help you secure a fulltime position after graduation. But…how do you make that happen? It can be a very uncomfortable conversation to have. A full-time position post internship is usually never guaranteed. Every internship/company is different in their approach, so be mindful of that in your own approach.

I recommend thinking about your internship as a long interview. You need to look at everyday as an interview and every single person is your hiring manager. This means, you should be dressing the part every day and going the extra mile in everything that you do. This will help you feel confidant when you approach the conversation; that you are in fact; an integral part of the organization. Companies are run leaner than ever before, which means every single person who is hired on needs to be top notch.

Businesses are not likely going to take a chance on an average performer. That is why you need to make every day of your internship count. I’m going to break this down into three categories: 1) What to do 2) What not to do 3) how to navigate that fact that you will not being receiving an offer.

1) What to do

a. Understand that there may be many more people involved in the hiring decision than just your manger. In large companies the decision on what interns to hire is often a group decision. The hiring manger, recruiter, HR business partner, and the division leaders all weigh in on this decision. I would recommend networking with each of these leaders when possible. 

b. Own your development. Seek feedback from your manager from day one to ensure that you are learning what is expected of you and meeting the goals of the projects and internship.

c. Own the conversation. Take the time to tell your manger, recruiter, business leaders how passionate you are about the company and the work that you are doing. Make it known that you would love the opportunity to work for the company full-time.

d. Understand that the decision takes time. Each company is different in how they approach hiring interns. It is likely that the company has several different approaches. They may tell you on your last day if you will receive a position or not, they may tell you a couple months later, or they may be in touch with you when you graduate. Often times it is difficult for a company to know what their needs are 9 months in advance.

e. Be realistic in the type of position that you are qualified for. I often ask students what type of position that they would be interested in after graduation and the responses I get are executive level roles. While it is great to have an idea of what you would like to do many years down the road, understand that you have to start somewhere. A bachelor’s degree and an internship do not qualify you to be a Director or Vice President.

2) What not to do

a. Do not hassle people on the topic of receiving a full-time offer or assume that this is guaranteed. You don’t want to make everyone dread seeing you because you continuously bring up this uncomfortable topic in all the wrong places. I had an intern approach me at a formal cocktail event and asked me when he will be receiving his offer, and if I could present it to him by a particular date he would really appreciate it.  Not only was it the wrong venue, it was in front of other people.

b. Do not counter your offer with an executive level compensation package. Negotiating is a natural part of the hiring process. Companies will generally bring a very strong offer to the table with maybe a slight variance for negotiating. If you counter back a list of unrealistic demands, you run a very high risk of damaging relationships before you even start. You better have another offer on the table with that level of compensation package to back up your counter. Be grateful and humble when you receive your offer, and if you are negotiating do it reasonably.

c. Do not negotiate in piecemeal. Once you have accepted the offer, you have accepted the offer. Don’t sign the offer and then 6 months later come back and say: “Oh by the way I would like to ask for a sign-on bonus”. This comes across unorganized and unprofessional. The deal has been done.

d. Do not renege. Once you have accepted the offer, accept the offer. It is in bad taste to later renege on your word. The corporate world is a small one. Don’t start off your career by burning bridges.  Not only does it reflect poorly on you, but also on your college.

3) How to handle no offer

a. Understand there are many reasons why you didn’t receive an offer. It is not always because you did a bad job. It could be that they just don’t have the headcount for another person.

b. Be graceful about it. Be smooth about not receiving an offer. Show humility and thankfulness for the opportunity to have been able to intern at the company. You never know… something may come up down the road.

c. Ask for feedback and or advice. There are several people that you were able to network with during your internship. Use that network to leverage other opportunities. Ask them for advice on where to start looking and if they know any companies that they can recommend. This is a great way to find opportunities outside of the company you interned at. Be sure to stay in touch with your network and utilize your LinkedIn account to the max.

I wish everyone a wonderful and fruitful summer! May your internship lead to many more awesome opportunities!

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