The Intern Files, Vol. 4: Wrapping up Your Internship
While it seems like just yesterday that you were starting your first day as an intern, internships can quickly come to an end. Before you can just walk away from your internship though, there are some things you should do to wrap it up and leave with the potential for future opportunities, whether it’s a letter of recommendation or even a job.
Wrap up your internship with your manager.
Managers will usually have a one-on-one meeting with you to wrap up your internship, go over your accomplishments and projects, and give you feedback on your performance. If your manager doesn’t schedule a meeting though, take the initiative to ask your manager for a one-on-one before the end of your internship. In addition to asking for feedback, you can also use this meeting to ask any final questions or career advice. One of the most rewarding wrap-ups I had as an intern was when I showed up with a list of questions, ranging from questions about his professional experiences to picking his brain about certain business and design decisions made.
Ask for a recommendation.
Your manager may offer to be a future recommendation, but if they don’t, feel free to ask. As long as you’ve gotten positive feedback on your performance, it’s very unlikely that your manager will turn you down. If they do agree to be a recommendation, don’t wait to cash in on that offer though. Who knows when you’ll actually run into a situation where a recommendation is required — it may be two, five, or even ten years until you’ll need a recommendation letter, depending on where life takes you. However, if you wait ten years to ask your manager, it’s most likely that they’ll have forgotten the specifics of your internship and performance. While you may still be able to get a recommendation letter out of your manager then, the letter won’t be as strong as if you had asked immediately after your internship. An alternative to a physical or digital letter of recommendation is a LinkedIn recommendation. These days, most professionals have a LinkedIn account, so if your manager has one, ask them to leave a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile. A well-written LinkedIn recommendation can strengthen your profile, and because of the public nature of LinkedIn, recruiters may stumble across your profile and already have the information they need to reach out to you.
Leave with a thank you card.
Similar to following up after an interview, giving your manager a thank you card is another small, thoughtful gesture that many overlook or forget. Cards or handwritten letters may feel antiquated in this digital age, but they show that you’ve put in time and thought. I made the mistake of not leaving a thank you card at my externship, but I followed up with a thank you email, so if you forget to give your manager a card before you leave, send an email at the least.
Keep in contact.
Admittedly, I still haven’t figured this part out, but keeping in touch with people is one of the most useful things you can do. Many opportunities are a result of who you know. Your connections, even those “loose” connections, can open doors for you in the future. While I haven’t exactly cracked the art of keeping in touch, what I can say is start by connecting with people on LinkedIn — the professional social network is a great tool for organizing and keeping track of your contacts. By connecting with people on LinkedIn, you also automatically have a way to contact them in the future, even if they leave their current job. While I don’t have many actionable tips for keeping in touch with your professional contacts, this FastCompany article is a good place to start. However, as Tim Ferriss said in one of his podcasts, don’t keep in touch just for the sake of keeping in touch. I think this mostly applies to email, since sending an email with no purpose behind it is just filling up someone’s inbox. Instead, LinkedIn offers smaller interactions, like saying congratulations on a job promotion, commenting on something they’ve published, or liking a status, that allows us to stay in touch without being annoying or intrusive.
Internships are not just an essential way to get work experience before entering the job market, but can also offer so much more depending on how you use the opportunity. If you’re currently looking for an internship or working as an intern, good luck and remember to make the most of your experiences!
Check out other tips and advice in The Intern Files series:
Originally published at flcchn.com on May 4, 2015.