Navigating from part-time intern to full-time hire

Every year, college students hit job boards like Handshake, start cold calling and blast out their resume to companies hoping for a chance of landing an internship. Some may be doing it because it’s required to graduate, while others may truly be looking for on-the-job experience that can give them a leg up in the workplace.

At The Hodges Partnership, we offer up a total of six slots every year to college juniors, seniors and recent graduates. Over the course of our agency’s history, a handful of interns made the leap to become a full-time Hodger (myself, included). But whether you’re looking to get hired by your internship host, or you’re looking to translate your experience into full-time work elsewhere, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Document your experience

When you’re writing a resume for your first full-time position, it’s tough. It can feel like even entry-level positions require real experience to be considered. But with the right positioning and descriptions of your work, you can talk about internships, campus jobs and course work in a really valuable way.

I interned for college credit, so I needed to submit weekly journals of my experience. I worked 24 hours a week and with the wide range of assignments I had, I wouldn’t have remembered half the summer without those journals. By the end of my internship, I was able to pull out tasks, projects, software and other skills that were good to highlight for my field.

Having a record of my summer allowed me to copy and paste from my notes, where I compiled dozens of work examples – meaning I could tailor my resume accordingly based on the job I was applying to.

Relationship building

As a hardcore introvert, I don’t love the term “networking,” but I do support the idea of relationship building. For me, relationship building doesn’t mean bumping elbows at a luncheon, it means finding ways to authentically connect with someone in a one-on-one way – in a manner that’s comfortable for me.

For example, when I was finishing up my internship at Hodges, I made and wrote individual thank you cards to everyone in the office. Then, about six months after my internship, which was also about six months out from graduation, I dropped by with a box of baseball-shaped cookies (Hodges was named after Mets manager, Gil Hodges).

Without being overbearing with follow-ups, I showed the agency that I cared about them and valued their time and my experience – all without me walking in with a stamp on my head that said, “GIVE ME A JOB ONE DAY!”

Educate yourself

As one of our internship managers, we see lots of different candidates from schools all over Virginia – and beyond. One thing we’ve learned in the last few years is that the curriculum for a communications or public relations student varies greatly from school to school. So, if you have your eyes on a particular industry or company, plug yourself into industry sources and learn everything you can so you can speak the language during your next interview.

When I was in school, a lot of my work was theory based, and even though social media was just becoming a thing for brands, none of my courses was talking about how it could be leveraged for PR. After my internship, I started following industry publications like PR Daily, and started following Richmond news organizations because I knew that’s where I ultimately wanted to be.

Once I was able to move my academic curriculum aside, I was able to absorb trends and current evnts that made for great fodder during informational interviews.

In summary

When it comes down to it, when you’re navigating from being an intern to looking for a full-time gig, you need to have a plan. If you’re interning for a company you ultimately want to work for, communicate that to your manager. If you don’t necessarily want to work for them, or if they’re not hiring, let your boss know you’re looking for your next move and see if they can help you make connections.

Work hard, be authentic and start pivoting your brain from college learning to workplace learning and you’ll be all set.


Casey Prentice is an account strategist at The Hodges Partnership. A self-proclaimed organizational junkie and data geek who confesses to a secret desire to be a professional organizer, Casey enjoys account management, writing, editing and digital content strategy. She lives in Bon Air with her husband, Matt, son, Henry, and two cats, Mia and Shockoe.