(MoneyWatch) When a recent college graduate takes a company internship, the hope is often that it will morph into a real, paying job. But what about the many times that it doesn't? I asked Rona Borre, CEO and founder of recruiting firm Instant Technology, how to move forward.
CBS MoneyWatch: If your internship ended without a job offer, how do you maintain contact with people there without being intrusive?
RB: Building relationships is paramount to the success of any career, and keeping sincere, personal connections with professional contacts is very important. Checking in via email or a phone call once a quarter is not intrusive. Staying current on company news and reaching out to congratulate them on awards or achievements is a great way to stay on the top of their mind.
Additionally, you might even consider popping in with coffee or snacks, and seeing if your contact might have a few minutes to catch up. Everyone appreciates workday nibbles and even if they are busy your gift provides a great, genuine, no pressure touch-point.
How can you tell if the reason you didn't get an offer was because you were a bad employee or the company simply didn't have an open position?
Unfortunately, the reality of the situation is that there are a multitude of reasons someone might not get a job offer, from no position being available to internal reasons causing someone to not be the right fit for the role. However, if you're in tune with people, you'll have a pretty good indication when you leave an interview/position on how things went. If you're still unsure, this is something you should make sure you go over during your internship review. Ask them for direct feedback on how you can improve going forward and what tips they might have for you. Based on the feedback you receive, you should be able to determine why it just wasn't a fit.
What's the best way to showcase skills gained at an internship?
Having a portfolio to promote your experience and being able to reference your work during interviews is extremely helpful. Portfolios allow employers to actually see the quality of your work versus just hearing about it.
For example, if you are a software developer, then show them a mobile application you created. Have the app downloaded on your smartphone or tablet and walk the interviewer through the app step-by-step. Not only will you be able to talk to them about the number of downloads and other metrics you have, but you'll also be able to wow them with your work. If you don't have a tangible way of illustrating your work, then be sure to have very specific examples and stories of your accomplishments and skills.
Is there a secret to getting work in the technology industry?
The great thing about the tech industry is that so much information exists in the market to learn about trends and what is cutting edge. You can get your feet wet by getting involved with technology challenges and incubators after work hours. You can Google various groups that are local to you. Technology has so many different areas you can explore, from being on the front lines with customer interfacing to working behind the scenes.
There are many more options than just coding. If you are organized, you can be a project coordinator or a project manager. If you are a strong writer, you can learn to be a technical writer. It's now easier than ever to get involved and learn about the IT community. In addition to looking online, there are a number of organizations and user groups you can join to learn more about a specific skill or sector of the industry.
What's the best advice you can give for a new grad (or soon to be grad) looking for a job in the tech sector?
Start learning as much as you can in the area you are interested in pursuing. Stay current on the latest news in the industry and test out new technology. Be creative, and set up a lab in your dorm room or at your campus technology center to start gaining experience in tech. Seek out mentors in the community to help you learn about technology and the community. Today, technology becomes obsolete at a faster pace than ever, making it necessary to find ways outside of your university professors to gain real-world, up-to-date knowledge of the tech sector.