Closing the Chapter on a Summer Internship
By: Madelynn Graham
Congratulations! You finished your summer internship. You woke up early, you took on the workload, and you made it out alive. Now what? Ideally, a good internship will lead to a job, but in reality many businesses function with a fresh supply of interns every semester or season and do not hire out of the intern pool because of budgetary restrictions. So what do you do now?
1) Say Thank You – One of the biggest benefits of an internship is the network of professionals you meet and have the opportunity to work with. Upon completion of your internship, be sure to thank everyone you worked with face to face. From the internship coordinator for hiring you, to the boss for continuing an internship program, they all made your experience possible. Leaving the workplace on good terms opens the door for positive references and maybe even a job in the future (whether at the same business or another business). The connections you made do not need to expire simply because you are no longer working at the firm. Save those business cards and keep in touch!
2) Get Your Samples – Depending on the nature of your internship, some companies have interns produce original work. Even if you haven’t produced any projects entirely on your own, you most likely have collaborated on projects with other employees. Anything you worked on is a great addition to your portfolio. This includes: articles, blog posts, web design, graphics, reports, and much more. Beefing up your portfolio shows prospective employers that you took advantage of your internship opportunity and proves that you exercised and developed new skills.
3) Keep Working – It can be difficult to get back on track after logging in hundreds of free hours for a class credit or major requirement. Don’t get discouraged! Whether you get a job in the same field as your internship or start over somewhere new at entry level, just keep working. All work experience is good experience, and even if your next job isn’t your dream job, you should try your best. You never know who you’re going to meet or what networks you’ll find yourself in.
4) Stay Positive – It’s never a good idea to burn bridges. Even if you’re bitter about the workload you took on or the people who were your superiors – say only nice things about the experience. Word travels fast, especially in close-knit business communities. Don’t slack off as you near the end of the internship. Keep arriving early, staying late, and asking for new projects no matter how many hours are left. Finish as strongly as you started.
5) Share Your Experience – The summer is over and you feel like you’ve been exposed to a plethora of new information, programs, techniques, and tactics. Don’t let it go in one ear and out the other. Share what you’ve learned! Don’t let the new interns come in cold, give them some pointers. Blog about new programs you’ve learned how to use and share ideas you formulated with your future co-workers. An internship is a learning experience and the best way to truly learn is to teach others what you’ve learned.
The end of an internship can be bittersweet, but before you clock out for the last time remember why you took the internship in the first place. You were willing to dedicate your time to work with the masters of your craft. Appreciate the time they took to teach you and say good-bye with a smile. Not every internship turns into a dream job, but every block on your resume brings you one step closer to that ultimate goal.