Interns: Don't forget to do these before leaving!
I get it, you’re heading towards the end of your internship, you’ve endured endless amounts of stress, consumed your weight in colleague’s birthday treats and have developed a passionate relationship with a friend called caffeine. It’s easy to slack when you see the light at the end of the tunnel shining so brightly, but it’s important that you don’t rush the end of your internship and make the most of the little time you have left. More importantly, that company might potentially be a future employee and leaving on the right note is just as important as starting off on the right foot. Here are a few tips that I learnt along the way which in the long run will prove invaluable and will ensure you leave the right impression.
Hopefully your manager has given you regular feedback or some might have gone so far as having structured one to ones but the review that really counts is the last one. Ask your manager in advance if they plan on scheduling one, if they haven't, just ask if you could schedule in some time to discuss how your internship went. It can be quite daunting opening yourself up to potentially being constructively criticised but that information is invaluable as you can learn from it, improve and grow. The review will give you the chance to do some self-reflection, how you started off, where you are now and most importantly how far you’ve come. It’s easy to forget about the work you’ve done and the results you’ve achieved in such a short space of time when your heads been down and you’ve been in flow, so savour the praise.
Clean up after yourself
No, I’m not talking about your desk! I’m talking about the projects and tasks you were hired to execute. It's important that you try your best to finish them before your time is up but if you find you are unable to tie up loose ends make sure you hand it over to someone else in the team or your line manager. Try and schedule a hand-over meeting and if all else fails, leave clear instructions on what's been done and what's left to do. Nothing is more frustrating than having to search for files, trying to figure out what has been done and what there is left to do. Additionally, it will make the transition smoother and it will show that you have used your initiative, ensuring you leave a good impression rather than a sour taste.
Connect & Follow
You should start gradually connecting on LinkedIn with colleagues and clients you have interacted with frequently and if you haven’t already done so, get clicking! Once connected on LinkedIn and you’re back at university make sure you don’t forget about them and touch base with them every quarter or so. If they are not on LinkedIn and you have collected their business cards, shoot them an email every so often. Some of my previous internship colleagues have become great contacts, whether it’s been to help with career advice, networking, mentoring or even friendships. Secondly follow the company on social media. It’s a great way to keep in the loop of what’s going on and a great talking point should you be getting in touch with old colleagues.
More often than not, you’ll be asked to provide references by forwarding contact details of your referees. Another way of doing this is asking for physical references on your departure while it’s still clear in your line managers mind rather than a year or more later. Especially at a time when job hopping is becoming the norm, you risk your new employee not being able to get a hold of your previous manager. Secondly, with permission from your employee, ask them if you can take samples of the work you’ve done. Please make sure you ask, some documents might be confidential and technically they do belong to the company. Work samples can be a great addition to your portfolio which may include your CV, references, qualifications and certificates. Portfolios are a great way of showcasing to prospective employees who you are and what you can do.
Update & Refresh
Make sure that you are updating your CV and LinkedIn profile at the end of your internship while it’s still fresh in your mind. A great way of doing this is either talking to your line manager on the best way to describe your role or checking what they’ve written on your references and adapting it. Furthermore, make sure that you are adding new skills to your LinkedIn profile that you’ve gained in your latest experience, change your headline so it is relevant to the opportunities you are looking for and ask colleagues that you’ve closely worked with for endorsements and recommendations. Not only will potential recruiters be able to see your experiences and search by your keywords but it will make your profile and online branding credible.
Merci and Adios!
So you’ve come to the end of your internship, things are winding down in the last few days/hours and it is time to say your thanks and goodbyes. Send an email to your team to thank them for their time, patience and advice. You can add your contact details or the link to your LinkedIn profile so that you can keep in touch. For people that really went out of their way, write them a personal message rather than a generic thank you email. Just remember that these are your future contacts and people that have helped you pave the way for your future career. Lastly, if you were particularly close to a few, suggest a leaving lunch or after work drinks. It’s a nice way to end your time there and a well deserved glass of vino or two.
“Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin