You searched for hours for the perfect company. You practiced weeks in advance for every behavioral interview question in the book. You compiled the perfect resume and portfolio, and you landed the internship. As summer comes to a close you’ve probably had some amazing learning experiences and gained professional knowledge that only an internship can provide, but the work isn’t over yet. How you leave your internship is just as important as how you acquire it. PR students know it better than anyone, maintaining connections are everything.
Remember these vital do’s and don’ts as you leave this summer’s internship.
1. Say thank you! This is the minimum requirement for keeping the door open in the future. Cite specifics about what you learned from them and what you really appreciated from the experience, the more thought you put in to this the more sincere you will be in your appreciation. I like to write handwritten thank you’s to help me really think about what each manager/mentor did for me and appropriately thank them.
My most recent boss told me that she keeps every handwritten note she gets and when former students or acquaintances call on her for potential job openings she looks through the pile to see if they ever took the time to write her a thank you.
2. Gather a list of your work and make sure you have copies. What project did you do week 1 again? Make sure to go back through your files and at least synch copies to your own computer if you can. Writing down every project you worked on is a great way to make sure you remember it. You never know what project might be applicable to speak to in a future interview.
3. Think about your career. Internships are a unique opportunity to see what your future career will be like. Were you satisfied with the work you did? Did you enjoy the atmosphere of that company? Is this the right industry? For look in to pro sports, or maybe it showed you that strictly doing public relations might not be broad enough for you. Whatever it is, take the time to listen to yourself because you’ll spend a lot of time working throughout your life and this reflection can help you target your next internship or future job.
1. Leave projects unfinished. You only get 10-12 weeks to prove yourself. Time management for finishing your projects is crucial. Just because your time is up doesn’t mean you should leave without completing what you set out to do! If you can complete your projects in full, it demonstrates your value to the team because you were able to deliver results. However, if your work load is too large and you don’t see how you will get it all done before your term is over, make sure to communicate that to your manager as soon as possible.
2. Forget to stay in touch. Make an excel file of everyone you met or networked with throughout the course of the summer. Even better, follow up with them all as you are about to leave and get their business cards. You never know who might be a vital connection in the future. If you can’t remember how they spelled their name or what their specific title was, it could cost you that perfect opportunity.
3. Forget to ask for feedback. A review of your performance is essential to developing. Sometimes it’s hard to know exactly how a manger feels about your work and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask! This is a learning experience and most of the time everyone will be happy to help you grow and point out your strengths and potential weaknesses. You will go through performance reviews throughout your professional life and it’s great practice to get that experience under your belt. The earlier you get advice and feedback the more time you have to demonstrate your ability to listen, take direction and demonstrate initiative to be the valued employee you want to be, so make sure you are doing this throughout your internship!
Hopefully you’ve expanded your skills and learned a lot over the course of the summer. Use these tips to finish strong!
-Ann Watercutter is a junior studying strategic communications with a minor in business and a marketing specialization. Keep up with Ann at @AWatercutter.