Interning this summer post-graduation? Then I bet you have this question on your mind: How do I turn my internship into a full-time gig upon completion?
Although I’ve written about this topic several times, it’s always a good one to revisit. So, I recently spoke with Peter Handal, chairman, CEO and president of Dale Carnegie Training.
The Dale Carnegie approach to professional enhancement is predicated upon the enhancement of one’s set of “soft skills” – skills that may not be taught in a classroom or gleaned from a book, but essential nonetheless for continued personal and professional development.
At Dale Carnegie, soft skills are separated into five major categories:
- Personal leadership
- Communication skills
- People skills
- Attitude control
Using those soft skills, you can “nurture the executive within” in the hopes of landing an official job offer post-internship, says Handal:
- Self-confidence: You landed your internship for a reason — because you are you! As a young person, you have contemporary abilities that your older employers may not have. While you might dismiss knowledge of social networking, smartphones, Powerpoint creation and contemporary trends, your superiors will need you to help keep them up-to-date as they seek to contemporize themselves in what can be an intimidating new technological world. Make your abilities known and your colleagues will appreciate the initiative!
- Personal leadership: Even when you’re on the lower part of the corporate totem pole, you can leverage your strengths and lead by example. Cultivate your assertive ambition by always hitting your ‘ON’ button. In Dale Carnegie’s book, “The Five Essential People Skills,” he states that one should “make a list of at least three things that you can do to further motivate your team and boost morale, productivity and initiative.” For instance, if you are a creative person and have a new idea for your company, speak up! If you played sports in school, offer to set up a team-building game over the weekend. If you love to cook, bake something spontaneously for your team to enjoy.
- Communication skills: Great executives are able to talk least and say the most. Being able to express yourself in a concise and coherent form, whether in an e-mail, in a discussion or in a presentation, is a skill worth refining for your entire life. Consider a course in public speaking or corporate communication, be it through a Dale Carnegie course or workshop or at your university, to enhance your presentation abilities. An investment in your communicatory abilities in an important investment in your future, no matter where you decide to make your career.
- People skills: Even when you feel that you are overworked, it is vital that you remember the importance of cultivating people skills. A short list includes remembering to smile, maintaining eye contact in discussions, modulating your voice, being cheerful to everyone from the janitor to the CEO and always acting in a respectful way. Indeed, no matter how advanced our society becomes, good manners never go out of style!
- Attitude control: When the going gets tough, the tough rise to the challenge. During trying times is when interns can demonstrate their intrinsic value to their employer. Particularly given the present economic climate, employers are stressed and concerned. Your ability to maintain enthusiasm and encouragement can help inspire your firm to get through present difficulties. Remember, as a part of the team you are in for the full ride, and you will be appreciated for having a positive and constructive attitude.
“In addition,” Handal adds, “always have an ‘elevator pitch’ — a brief description or anecdote about your experiences that, if you find yourself in an elevator with someone from upper management, intrigues them and puts you high on their radar. Always leave them wanting more!”