Advice for Employers and Recruiters

From internship to full-fledged career: how one Fortune 500 company is recruiting from within

Libby Rothberg AvatarLibby Rothberg
November 5, 2018


Author: Kate-Madonna Hindes

Investing in entry-level workers creates greater job stability and more opportunities for advancement for employees, contributing to a more economically vibrant society.(Rockefeller Foundation)

Every single day, new relationships are forming, and interns are turning into full-time employees. Across thousands of different companies, H.R. and recruiting departments are making long-term investments for maximum growth and profitability. Smart companies are taking note while searching for interns to see if they have the qualities they are looking for in full-time employees.

Lowe’s, headquartered in Morrisville, North Carolina has long-committed to internal employee development and building relationships from within. Rachel Hawksworth, Vice President of Talent Acquisition, notes, “Many companies including Lowe’s have learning and development resources available for career management – tapping into these resources is a great first step.”

>> Lowe’s Fast Fact:   In 2018, Lowe’s had 78 interns at their corporate offices in Mooresville and Wilkesboro, as well as 16 of our regional distribution centers and a millwork and flatbed distribution center.

See below for an exclusive Q&A with Rachel and get to know how one successful Fortune 500 recruits from within…

Q: During the internship, who are the people an intern should build relationships with–and how–in order to pave the way for a full-time job?

A: While building relationships are important, I think interns must deliver results as they build their network to help pave the way for a full-time position. At Lowe’s, the most important relationship an intern has is with their manager since they evaluate their performance and work closely. I think it’s also important for the intern to have relationships with potential peers in the organization and they should seek to build a relationship with 1-2 key executives who can sponsor their work.

Q: Mentors can guide interns, but a sponsor is someone who puts their neck on the line for someone else and advocates for their advancement. Speak to how an intern can identify a sponsor and build trust in that person.

A: This is a great question as there is definitely a difference between a mentor and a sponsor. A sponsor is a very important part of the intern network. It is someone who can advocate for the quality of work and character the intern stands for and is willing to invest their time in helping that person become successful. To identify a sponsor, think about someone you have a positive relationship with who knows you and your work and can influence decision makers. It might not always be an obvious choice as it is often not a person the intern works with every day but this relationship can be very beneficial.

Q: What should an intern focus on that demonstrates the value they bring to the company?

A: The biggest value an intern can bring is to demonstrate they understand the business. Interns can accomplish this by delivering results on a final project, having detailed conversations with their direct manager and making an impact on the day to day business.

Q: On the flip side, what are common mistakes you see that hurt an intern’s chances of being offered an FT position?

A: A few common mistakes interns make, include not asking enough questions in the beginning to obtain the foundational information needed to be successful, focusing too much time on activities that distract them from performing well and enhancing their development, and not identifying a sponsor early enough in the process.

Q: Interns may decide they want to stay on full-time but don’t love everything about their company. How can they prove their worth while advocating change?

A: Many interns don’t know exactly what their end goal is after the internship, and we don’t expect them to know. Part of the experience is to explore which direction to take your career and learn what you like and don’t like. The best thing an intern can do if they are seeking a change with the organization is being open and honest about it. Interns bring a fresh perspective that allows them to see opportunities that others may not have noticed. Relationships built on trust with their program manager and direct manager are key to impacting a change in the organization.


Ready to get inspired? Here are three vital things to remember when turning your internship into a full-time role:

  1. Take advantage of the benefits. Besides health care and a 401k, many companies offer additional benefits such as online learning and after-hours networking groups within the company. By staying actively involved in different areas, you’ll develop relationships that can help you glean advice and move to other positions.
  2. Seek frequent feedback. To become a better professional, solicit feedback early and often. While weaknesses are difficult to hear, handling negative feedback with grace can help put you on a path to leadership by showcasing your maturity. Rachel Hawksworth believes interns should Interns should also get to know and interview different people within the department they are working to help them better understand the career journeys of those around them. She mentions, “This is a great way for interns to discover the career path they want to pursue. Once they’ve defined what they want out of their own career, they should connect with people in roles that are of interest to them.” Smart advice!
  3. Get smart about budgeting. While many organizations have perks, (like a free gym membership or lunches,) talk with a financial planner to ensure you’re not blowing your paycheck. Ensuring your finances are in order will set you up for a successful present and a better-prepared future.

>> Learn more about best practices for internships by clicking here

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