As with all good things, summer is slowly coming to an end. For many college students,back-to-school season is already underway, and 20-somethings are bidding farewell to their summer internships.
And while most internship programs are unpaid, the real-life working experience an intern gleans and the network connections they make can prove to be invaluable for their careers.
But before you head back to the classroom and say goodbye to your co-workers, take the time to reflect on your internship and leave a lasting impression on your managers. How you conclude your internship can have a positive impact on your professional development as you pursue full-time opportunities after graduation.
Here are five things all summer interns should do to end their internships on a great note.
1. Chat with your manager for feedback. As you wrap up your remaining projects and get ready to head home, take time to sit down with your manager and ask for feedback on your performance during your time with the company. When you ask for feedback, it is an opportunity for the people you’ve worked with over the summer to discuss your pros and cons as an employee.
Be prepared to hear some things you might not agree with. But feedback now gives you a chance to correct the bad and emphasize the good before you make it to the real workforce. Ask your managers how you could improve upon your work skills and get specific insight on the areas in which you performed well.
2. Build your portfolio and resume. Another final project your manager might be able to help you with is building a portfolio of the work you completed during your internship.
You’ll need to ask for permission regarding what documents or projects you can include since some items may be confidential. This is an opportunity for you to showcase your best work and also pad your resume with a few extra skills you might have picked up over the summer. Ask your manager to review any additional bullet points you include in your resume to make sure it aligns with the work you actually did for. And ask if he or she has any suggestions on how to improve the wording of your resume.
3. Ask for a letter of recommendation. Recommendation letters come in handy when you find yourself applying for full-time positions down the road. A letter of recommendation from a former manager can speak to your work ethic and advocate for you on your behalf, regardless of the industry in which you choose to pursue a career. Attaching a letter of recommendation to your online portfolio, such as LinkedIn, is simple and provides future recruiters with a glimpse of who you are as a potential employee. Ask your employer if they are willing to write a short letter on your behalf that attests to your intelligence, productivity and value as an employee.
4. Stay in touch with your co-workers. One of the best things to come of the digital age is the ability to stay connected with your peers. Even though your job may be over, don’t be afraid to keep in touch with your former co-workers and reach out to friends you made in the office. Connect with your co-workers on LinkedIn and consider sending a thank-you email to the people you worked closely with. Reach out to the friends you’ve made to catch up with what’s going on in their lives and how your job search is progressing. Many co-workers are happy to serve as mentors to interns who seek advice from someone who’s been through the job hunt already. And staying in touch with your former employer is a great way to keep an eye out for any future open positions.
5. Clean up your workspace. This may be an obvious point – but it’s worth repeating. While your internship may be complete, don’t leave your work station in a total mess. During the last week of your internship, go over all of your projects to make sure nothing is left incomplete and meet with your bosses to tie up any loose ends.
If you were given a work computer, be sure to transfer all the necessary files to the appropriate manager and clean out the desk you worked at. You want to make the transition for your employer as easy as possible, eliminating the need for them to hunt you down for certain documents after you leave. Not only will cleaning up your workspace make the transition easy for your team, it will leave a great impression on your employer.
The summer may be coming to an end, but there’s still time for you to make the most out of your internship opportunity. Every relationship you build is vital to your future career and each internship provides students with a chance to grow and develop professionally. Your internship is what you make of it. Be sure to make every minute you spent at the office count.