You’ve landed an internship at a great Australian company. If you’ve enjoyed your time in the role, there’s a good chance you’ll want to turn your internship into a permanent job offer.

It’s a sentiment many young professionals share. With more than half of all Australians doing unpaid work experience at some point in their career, there are countless graduates who want to kick start their career from an internship position. However, this also means there’s often fierce competition and companies can’t take on every intern within their team.

Turning student internships and graduate internships into a permanent role is possible. However, you need to start the conversation and prove yourself as indispensable to the company.

If you’re looking to land a permanent role from your internship, here’s what you should keep in mind.

Unpaid internships in Australia: Is it legal?

Working for free is common for graduates and young professionals in Australia, but is it actually legal? According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, unpaid internships are only legal if they’re part of a vocational placement. This means the main purpose of the unpaid internship should be to provide you with a meaningful learning experience, training or skill development.

Internships are designed to provide you with hands-on experience within an organisation, and should only last for a set amount of time. As an intern, you should be receiving the main benefit from the relationship.

If the company expects any level of productivity from you — for example, finishing work that the company charges clients for — or if you’re doing tasks that are also done by paid employees, then a paid employment relationship exists and you should be reimbursed for the hours you have worked.

Therefore, before taking on an internship ensure you do you due diligence and enquire about the tasks and responsibilities, as you may be offered a paid internship position.

RELATED: The benefits of interning

Starting a dialogue about a permanent job offer

Not all interns want full-time roles — some are looking to get a feel for the industry or just want to gain experience during their studies. If you definitely want to continue working at the company in a paid capacity, make your intentions clear to your supervisor so they’re aware from the start and they can keep an eye out for permanent opportunities within the company.

During the interview process or at the beginning of your internship, ask if there are any opportunities for high performing interns to secure an entry-level job – importantly, take note of what they’re looking for, so you can work and operate beyond their expectations.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to make the decision right away. In some cases, it’s best to get a feel for the company culture and the team first. If you’ve excelled in your internship and decide you’d like to continue working there, set aside time in a one-to-one meeting with your supervisor to express your interest in a permanent position. There are no guarantees, but there’s no harm in starting the conversation. In addition, there may not currently be a job opening by the end of your internship, but employees move jobs all the time so you may be contacted to fill that spot later on.

How to choose an internship that will to lead to a permanent job offer

During the interview process, there are a few questions you can ask to gauge the potential of a post-internship job opportunity:

  • Is the department or company expanding? Organisations that are growing fast will need to fill new positions quickly, and prefer to take on internal hires. If you’ve proven yourself, you can be a prime candidate for any junior roles that pop up down the line.
  • What is the typical intern experience like? If the company has a clear training path for interns, it’s a good sign that a permanent job offer could follow. Also find out if you will be given a dedicated mentor or supervisor, as they’ll be likely to keep their ear to the ground for the latest opportunities and put in a good word with other teams.
  • Are there opportunities to gain experience in multiple departments? If you broaden your search you could increase your chances of finding a role. Assess the company’s departments and teams when you’re there, and make a list of roles you’re interested in. You could ask to help in those departments to get a feel for those roles and teams.

Tips to land a permanent job offer from paid or unpaid internships

The difference between interns who get hired and those who don’t often comes down to one thing: great interns demonstrate they’re indispensable to the company. With that in mind, here are some techniques you can use to increase your chances of getting hired:

  • Prove you are dependable as an intern. Managers count on their team to get the job done, and during your internship it’s essential to demonstrate that you’re reliable and serious about the job. Arrive on time every day, meet deadlines, communicate in advance if you need time off, and complete the tasks you’re given to the best of your ability. This builds trust and will earn the respect of your employer.
  • Ask for feedback regularly. Your supervisor can provide you with valuable insights into your core strengths and skills, as well as any areas to improve on. Schedule a mid-internship review and an end-of-internship review to formally ask for feedback on your performance.
  • Bring a great attitude to work. Companies want employees who are passionate, autonomous and contribute to building a positive company culture. Take on tasks with a smile, demonstrate that you’ve listened to feedback, support your colleagues if they need help, proactively seek out opportunities to assist where you can, and propose solutions to any challenges you encounter along the way.
  • Look for opportunities to add value as an intern. Employers want problem solvers and junior team members with fresh ideas. Observe what’s going on in the office: can you identify any inefficiencies that could be solved by tackling it in a different way? By proposing new solutions, you’re showing your initiative and ability to think outside the box.
  • Try to connect with the team outside your daily tasks. Sit with the team during lunch, and participate in team activities, company workshops and social events. These are all opportunities to network, build rapport with key stakeholders, and establish yourself as a part of the team. Plus, your colleagues may raise questions about your career during conversation or share valuable insights into future opportunities in the company. They can also be additional contacts for you, so if your supervisor doesn’t think of you for a permanent role first, the team members may be your best advocates as they made a connection with you.

Above all, remember that landing a permanent role from your internship is not an entitlement but the sum of all your hard work, great attitude, connecting with the team, and proactively putting yourself out there for a permanent job, coinciding with an opening or opportunity to add headcount.

Remember to put your best foot forward during your internship, follow the tips above and treat the experience as though you will be offered a permanent role at the end — you never know where it may take you.

Looking for paid work opportunities? Browse our latest graduate jobs in Australia.

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