Concluding Your Internship with Class
It’s the summer before your senior year, and you are getting ready to leave what is hopefully your last internship ever. With any luck, next summer you will be starting a full time position with benefits; in order to get to that point however, you need to make a classy exit from your internship and finish your last year of college. Unlike quitting a job, there is rarely conflict when you leave an internship to return to school, but there are still actions that you can take to ensure that your departure is a pleasant one.
Before you leave your summer internship to return to the world of academia for one final year, consider using the following ideas to help you leave a positive impression.
Request an evaluation: Although you should have been requesting feedback periodically throughout the summer, requesting a more formal evaluation at the end of your internship can give you a comprehensive view of your time with the company. As you touch base with the manager you worked under, be open and receptive to their opinions. This is the time to find out where they see room for improvement, if they have any advice for you during your last year of college, and if they feel like you are the type of employee that they want to work for their company after graduation. Openly receiving this feedback demonstrates maturity, allows you to work on your weaknesses, and encourages you to develop your strengths so that you are ready to confidently enter the real world.
Say thank you: It is important to genuinely express your gratitude for the opportunity to intern and gain meaningful job experience. The importance of internships should not be undervalued as they often shape the career decisions that you make moving forward; therefore, thanking those that you worked with over the summer is the least that you can do in return for them sharing their expertise and welcoming you as a temporary team member. A handwritten note is a nice, personal touch and often unexpected in today’s world where thank you emails are the norm.
Keep in touch: You have just spent the entire summer striving to be an integral part of a team and make connections with successful professionals in your desired field. Fostering these professional relationships shouldn’t stop completely once you leave; after all, the individuals who have spent the summer helping you develop the skills necessary to succeed outside of college can serve as a valuable resource as you finish your studies (or even as you start looking for your first real world job). Every attempt should be made to continue to develop these relationships by not only asking for contact information but also adding them on LinkedIn. Periodically touch base with your favorite team members to see how projects are going, give them updates, and even share interesting articles that you have read.
Ask for a letter of recommendation: In addition to asking if you can use them as a reference in the future, you may want to ask for a letter of recommendation- especially if you don’t know what your post grad plans are yet. While having references is useful when you start applying for jobs, a letter of recommendation is a bonus should you decide to continue your education after undergrad.
Clean up: Plain and simple, don’t leave your workspace a mess with the expectation that someone else will clean it up after you are back at school. While you are tidying up your temporary workspace, don’t forget to search the communal fridge and thrown out any of your old take out leftovers before you leave. Show your appreciation for the space that the company and your team has allowed you to occupy over the summer by cleaning up and collecting your personal effects.
Finish strong: It can be easy to slack off the last week, or weeks, of your internship knowing that you will be going back to school soon. Instead of starting to withdraw early, end your internship on a high note by finishing strong and proving your dedication to your work and the team that took you in over the summer. As the end of summer approaches, complete any projects that you are responsible for and continue to actively participate in the office. Just make sure that you don’t take on anything that you are unable to finish before you leave!
It’s important to remember that not all internships are good experiences, and some even turn out to be glorified coffee runner positions. Whether you were blown away with the amount of experience you gained over the summer or you are tired of taking coffee orders, it is important to leave with class so that you don’t burn any bridges that may be useful in the future.