Former Harlequin PR Intern Talks About How to Turn Your Internship Into a Permanent Position

For students of journalism and publishing, it is a well-known and unfortunate fact that internships are unlikely to turn into full-time, permanent positions.  Regardless, every internship is a potential opportunity to make the transition into full time work.

I spoke with Lisa Wray who was able to make the transition from PR Intern at Harlequin to full-time employee (don’t hate her!). Lisa was quick to tell me that she was able to turn her internship into a full-time job as a result of three ingredients: being in the right place at the right time, getting really lucky & creating some of her own luck.

Keep reading for great tips and advice on how you too just might be able to turn your internship into a full-time position.


Q. What was the most important thing that you did that helped your internship turn into a permanent position?

From what I’ve seen my classmates do and from my own experience, I would say there are three key ingredients to making your internship such an uber-success that they would want to hire you on.

A. Ingredient 1: Right place right time.  Before getting your internship, it’s very important to research companies that are actually hiring. Check job boards to see if your hopeful employer has large hiring capacity and pick your internship wisely.  A lot of companies hire interns to save money. Don’t take offense when your internship does not turn into a job; in most cases its due to the lack of funds for creating a new position.

Ingredient 2: Luck. Even the best networking professionals can’t fake it when it comes to successfully connecting with your co-workers or getting along with the person who interview you. It’s a lucky break when you’re able to easily connect with fellow employees, but seeing as your job becomes your life, why would you want it any other way?

Ingredient 3: Create your own luck. We all know you should always do your homework before an interview, but seriously, if you want the internship, check out the job description and try to become the most knowledgeable interviewee (it’s really the only way to win!). Once you’re in, try to do at least 4 things that go above and beyond your job description (it’s time to razzle and dazzle).

Q. How did you network with your co-workers successfully?

A. For your first internship, networking with co-workers successfully can be daunting, especially if you only expect to stick around for a few months. But nothing is more important than the connections you make.  Even if you don’t get hired on, think of the killer recommendation you’d like them to give you.

My best advice for ‘networking’ is to first throw that word out the window (it sounds too menacing!).  Replace it with learning, connecting and having fun. Just think of all the great advice these experienced working professionals can give you!  Be enthused, ask questions and if you’re not good at this on the spur of the moment, put some time aside each day to formulate questions you would like to ask.

Q. In what ways did you take initiative?

A. I joined in-office committees such as United Way week and lunchtime fitness classes. Try to make yourself an invaluable asset, after all, they are expecting their new intern to follow the job description, but working above and beyond that takes enthusiasm, courage and persistence.

Q. What did you do outside of work hours to make yourself more employable?

A. For my internship I was not paid (received a ‘thank-you’ lump sum at the end), so I kept my part-time job at a book store.  Since I work in the publishing industry, I think my co-workers found my anecdotes from selling books funny and I believe this helped to display early on that I had great work ethic.

Q. When did you mention that you would like to stay on permanently?

A. I think this is where my three key ingredients come into play again as I never had to ask to stay on permanently; I was extremely lucky enough to be asked. Throughout my internship I made my enthusiasm for the job and company known (at least on a weekly basis), so there was no question on whether I would stay on for a longer period of time.

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