Most hospitality programs require an internship component to provide a “real world” context for what was learned in the classroom.
It’s also an extended opportunity for you to develop new skills, make connections, and see what company is a good fit for you.
While most internship contracts stipulate a specific end date, there is always a possibility of extending the time with your employer. By the time your internship is over, they will have invested a lot of time and money into your development. It’s in everyone’s best interests therefore, for you to be a success and continue working with the company.
As a former management intern myself and the supervisor for The Drake Hotel’s Food + Beverage Development Program, here are my top four strategies to set you up for success when your contract ends.
Embrace Company Culture
Never was there a better time to embrace your inner keener! During your summer contract, you have a short window of time to make an impression on your co-workers and senior leaders.
Make the right impression by showing up early, well-rested, sharply dressed, with a positive attitude. All of these details show that you take great pride in your position within the company. Listen carefully to all instructions, take a notepad wherever you go, and ask questions. This shows you care about the impact you make on the job.
As you listen and learn, you will gain firsthand insights into the company’s operational values. Take advantage of any and all opportunities such as optional training seminars, field excursions, and casual company get-togethers to learn more about them. All of these activities will give you a glimpse into the real company culture. Especially look out for times when they say one thing, but do another. Remember, this internship is an opportunity for you to evaluate a potential employer as well.
Get Your Name (and Face) Out There
As simple as it seems, does your employer know that you want to stay on after your internship? Oftentimes, students accept internships with an end goal of parlaying that experience into work elsewhere; if you like the company and enjoy what you do, let them know!
Hopefully, your internship will include opportunities for formal and informal performance reviews with your supervisor. During one of these meetings, take the time to explain what you enjoy about the role or organization. One of my favourite career questions to ask is, “If I see myself being [insert position here], what do you think I need to do between now and then?” It’s a “work back” question that allows your intentions to be known in a humble way. After all, you’re seeking their help and advice in ensuring you meet your career goals.
Actively Seek Feedback
Why wait for formal performance appraisals? Ask your supervisors and co-workers regularly for feedback, either directly (“How did I handle that situation, in your opinion?”) or indirectly (“My gut is telling me to try this, what do you think about that approach?”).
Even if you’re initial feedback is positive, don’t rest on your laurels. By actively seeking feedback, you are showing your supervisors that you’re engaged and that you’re ready to learn more.
Make Your Mark
Find a small way to contribute to the company you are interning with, such as pitching new ideas for daily specials or offering up your organizational skills to better their inventory procedures. Perhaps you have experience in a particular area the company needs assistance. If not, this is where your listening and networking skills can help.
Your internship may involve cross-training with leaders outside of your department. This allows you to expand your network within the organization and hear new perspectives on day-to-day operations. Be sure to loop in your supervisor regularly on what you learned and how it applies to what you have been asked to do every day. Your supervisor will appreciate how you’ve connected the dots.
If your internship is within a more closed department, use your lunch breaks or after work hours to meet with leaders outside your area of expertise. A great place to start is the Human Resources department as one of their key purposes is to make connections within the organization.
Though these “out of the box” discussions, you may stumble across a way to make your mark or generate best practices for your company. Your supervisor will be impressed, and the company will be better for it.
Use these four strategies to take advantage of your summer contract, gain insight into company culture, and make an impression that will propel your career forward.