The Final Days in the Office: Tips for Getting the Most Out of Your Internship Experience
This Wednesday is August 1st. The summer is slowly slipping away from us. Commence freaking out…
If you are a college student like me, you are already mentally preparing for another chaotic semester of classes, extracurricular activities, social events and much more. Well, I have news for you. The summer isn’t over (not yet) and the way you perform in the final weeks will be the impression you leave on your supervisor, co-workers, and fellow interns. So what needs to be done before you leave?
I have compiled some advice for success as you leave your summer internship.
- Ask for feedback. It is important to meet with your supervisor to get feedback on your performance. This can be a very valuable learning opportunity for you. It also shows your supervisor that you are professional and eager to improve. A little constructive criticism will help you build new skills and prepare for what is next.
- Set up informational interviews. The professionals you work with will likely be willing to give you valuable advice and career insights… but you have to ask! Do not be shy. Learning from their experience can be invaluable to your career search.
- Offer to stay in touch. Whether you offer to help them find candidates for a fall intern, or agree to continue working remotely, staying in touch is essential. Remember, internships are mutually-beneficial experiences. It is just as important that you offer something of value as it is that you learned something. Have some free time? Offer to see a project through to the end. Maintaining these connections will be key when you need references and contacts down the road.
- Get a recommendation. Assuming that you performed well and did what was asked of you, your supervisor will be more than happy to write you a letter of recommendation. (Or, maybe you take his/her contact information in case you need one when apply to jobs.) I always connect with my old employers on Linkedin, that way if they leave the company or change their phone number, I can still contact them.
- Say thank you. I am the world’s biggest believer in hand-written thank you notes. When I was little, my mother had me sit down and write a thank you note for every present I received and that stuck with me. I still write hand-written thank you notes to everyone who has inspired or helped me in my career. A thank you note is a genuine, thoughtful gesture that will not go unappreciated by your supervisor. Taking the time shows you care and that you appreciate them.
- Evaluate. Has this internship influenced what you want to do with your life? How does this internship experience fit into the bigger picture? What are your career goals? What can you take away from this experience? This is probably the least obvious and most important on your to-do list. You shouldn’t be sitting in the office everyday just to plop experience on your resume. You should be there to LEARN and to GROW.
- Plan Ahead. Help ensure that you will be happy in your career by evaluating whether or not this is something you would want to do. Deciding how you will allocate your time, energy and talent will shape your life. Make lists of your strengths and weaknesses. Think about how this internship has shaped your path and determine where you would like to go next.
Amanda Smith is a senior public relations student at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. Click to connect with Amanda.