The end of summer means the end of internships.
Depending on how your internship has been going, you may be feeling anything from relief that it is almost over to joy if the company offers you a full-time job. No matter what your experience has been, you can make the most of your final days to set you up for future opportunities.
Our summer intern did something all job seekers should do. As with most internships, she worked with the team to set goals at the beginning of the summer. One of those was to make a presentation to the entire staff about a research project.
But here is where she did something instructive—not just for interns, but for all jobseekers. She presented a problem that no one on staff is currently addressing, and she proposed a few solutions.
In essence, she laid out a case for a new job to be created, and lined herself up as the person to fill it. Career counselors refer to this process as identifying the labor gap or finding pain points.
Whether on not you want to work at the company where you’ve been interning, now or later, how you handle your final days in the office can teach you some important career lessons.
- Show you care about the work. Write up status reports on the work you have been doing, and clear instructions for next steps. If your project is being transitioned to someone else, offer to spend time with that person going over your results and ideas.
- Be grateful. During your last week in the office, make sure to thank everyone who helped you in anyway during your internship. If someone has taken an interest in your work or spent extra time assisting you, invite them for coffee. It doesn’t matter if they accept, the point is to respect their efforts.
- Assess yourself. Good or bad boss, great time or boring time, take a step back and look at what you learned about yourself over the summer. What tasks did you like that you didn’t expect? Did you manage your time well? Did you speak up too much–or too little? Are there things you know you could have done better? How did you communicate with your boss or colleagues? Asking those kinds of questions will give you some insight into what you need to work on and what kind of job you might like to pursue.
- Network, but politely. Don’t send everyone in the company an invitation on LinkedIn or a link to your portfolio. Let people you have worked closely with know you would like to keep in touch. If you have a connection with someone, or admire someone in particular, ask if they might consider meeting now and then as you get started in your career for some guidance. Internships are great ways to find mentors.
- Update your profiles and resume. Be sure to add your new experience to your resume and profiles right away–before you head off to school or another job and it slips your mind. And if certain employees impressed you during your internship, write recommendations or endorse them on LinkedIn and other sites. Keep in mind that the most important networking lesson is helping others in their careers.