You’re anxiously waiting to start your internship, and you want to knock it out of the park so you can snag a full-time job offer. And getting a full-time offer means making your senior year less stressful as you get one step closer toward graduation and starting your accounting career! So in order to boost your chances of being offered a full-time gig, here are some things you can do during your internship to make yourself stand out.
Being punctual? It sounds so simple. But as a college student, getting out of bed in the morning can sometimes be hard, I know. At my first internship, I was frequently in the office by 8:45 am. My first internship was at a tech company with an in-house cafeteria. Food was my motivation to get to the office on-time, because I knew food was a key part of my ability to function properly. Also, stragglers would miss the breakfast specials.
I didn’t think too much about my punctuality track record until my first performance review. During my review, my manager raved about how I was on-time and reliable. Being on time helped me gain her trust, and she gave me more autonomy and space. Being punctual is a small thing, but it can really help build up your reputation as an intern since it reflects your professionalism that they can expect to see if they hire you full-time.
Review your own work before submitting it
Dot the i’s and cross the t’s before you submit anything for review. Check excel formulas for mistakes or cell omissions. Make sure the correct financial year is listed on the work paper. Especially in accounting, little typos and errors can make a huge impact. It also helps if you review your work with fresh eyes, so before you review your work, step away from your desk for a short break and come back to it with a clear mind. Turning in work that needs little to no edits makes a huge statement. It shows that you pay attention to detail and can complete tasks with minimal supervision. Your manager will know they can rely on you and it will put you in the forefront of their mind when they think about which interns would be a great addition to the team.
Before you ask for help on a project, first look for answers through your resources (google, company database, tax code database, your peers, etc.). Your manager is probably busy, and they may have limited time to answer your questions. If you can find the answers on your own, your manager will see your ability to take initiative and adapt to your surroundings quickly and seamlessly. This will also show them that you're a quick learner and efficient problem solver.
Be eager to help with any project or any request
Let’s face it, interns often get work that is excruciatingly easy or incredibly tedious. Even if you hate the work, complete the work happily and be eager for your next project. Over your internship, you’ll build up a reputation for being the eager, easy-to-work-with intern. Supervisors like to work with eager interns, and you’ll find yourself getting more interesting and complex projects. Later on, if you’re getting assigned more projects than you can handle, this is a good sign because that means people want to work with you.
Exception: If you get a request for a TPS report, don’t be eager to help. This person is not your friend, and they will probably take your red stapler. Kudos to anyone who gets this 90’s reference.
Share your progress with the team
After your first few weeks, people will check in with you less because you are more settled in. Take initiative to share your progress with the team and ask for help if you are stuck. If you’ve completed all of your work, ask for more projects. Your co-workers are busy, so don’t wait in silence if you’re stuck or need more work. Be your own advocate to demonstrate your independent and on-task capabilities.
Practice common sense
At an interview, I asked one of the interviewers this question: In your opinion, what qualities does a successful intern have? I was expecting him to say impressive excel skills or knowledge of state tax codes, but his answer was common sense.
The interviewer, who became one of my future managers, explained that common sense is extremely important to being successful. Many people think that's a given, but you'd be surprised how often people miss the mark. You need common sense to judge good or bad ideas, like knowing to silence your phone during an important meeting or restarting your computer if it’s acting up. For example, one of my fellow interns left his phone on throughout the day, answered phone calls at his desk, and had his phone ring frequently during meetings. People forgave him the first few times, but he eventually started to annoy his co-workers. Practice common sense and good judgment. They both go a long way in showing that you're an amiable, polite, and ethical person.
You were the amazing student who was hired as an intern, now go become the amazing intern who was hired as a full-time employee!
--Lysern Marcelino, Guest Blogger for Roger CPA Review