Never leave an internship without a trace. Make your mark. Shine a spotlight onto the body of work that you’ve contributed. If you’re interested in a full-time job at the company, make sure your soon to be ex-colleagues know it.
“In most situations, first impressions are what counts. When it comes to internships, it’s the last impression that matters the most,” says Roberta Matuson, President of Human Resource Solutions and author of Suddenly in Charge.
Internships are a two-way street:
You get to absorb real-world experience, and the company gets to test out a potential entry-level hire (if they’re looking). The last thing you want to do is exit quietly and close the door — they might assume that you’re not that enthused or interested in a full-time position.
So what are you supposed to do exactly? If you want to leave a killer last impression, make sure you do all of the following before you say sayonara:
1. Write Hand-Written Thank You Notes
Expressing thanks is one of the most important things you can do when leaving your internship, says Amy Ruberg, College & Career Consultant at Ruberg Advisory Services, a management consulting company.
Hand-written thank you notes are a great way to go. They’re like small treasures, setting you apart from other interns. You’d be surprised how few interns actually take the time to write thank-you notes to their bosses and coworkers. This will definitely make you stand out because, well, who doesn’t love a hand-written card?
A verbal thank-you is okay, but a handwritten note is forever! The best way to do this is to hand-deliver your notes on the last day of your internship.
2. Offer to Train the Next Intern
Matuson says you should “offer to train your replacement or to create a manual that others can use when you’re gone.” Now, you might think, why should I help someone else taking my job? Well, it’ll show that you actually care about the company’s wellbeing. It’ll save valuable company time, if you’re thorough and accurate. Plus, you can show off all that you’ve learned and prove that you truly mastered your role.
If they’re still looking for interns to replace you, “refer other great interns to the organization,” Matuson suggests. It’s another way to help the company — all this good karma will come back to you in some way!
3. Prep for your Exit Interview & Ask for Feedback
Internships usually have some sort of exit procedure set up. Whether it’s a formal exit interview or at least a conversation with your boss about your performance, you should be proactive about receiving feedback. Remember, no news is not good news when it comes to performance reviews.
Ask questions about how you can improve your weaknesses and ask about your strengths. If your internship doesn’t perform a sit-down chat before you leave, never hesitate to ask for an evaluation. Keep an open mind and accept constructive criticism.
4. Discuss your Goals & Job Consideration
Ruberg also says it’s crucial to “express your wish for continued networking or contact and job consideration.” A good time for this would be during the exit interview, though you can also set up a few minutes to discuss your goals separately as well.
Don’t be afraid to ask them to consider you for a job. At the very least, you’ll get a networking contact out of this experience. But asking to be considered for a full-time position in the future shows them that you’re eager and interested.
5. Letter of Recommendation (way before your last day!)
This is particularly geared towards those of you who are interested in grad schools, scholarships or study abroad programs. Plan ahead. Give them several weeks in advance as well as guidelines for the letter of recommendation.
If you really don’t think you need a letter of recommendation at this point, ask them to write a LinkedIn recommendation. The goal here is to get a formal record of your work ethic from someone who has worked with you closely, particularly if you’ve received positive verbal feedback.
6. Organize Contact Info
It’s easy to lose this kind of stuff. You likely have everyone’s email addresses and contact info from the interview process, but don’t just keep it buried in your Gmail account. Open up a new file (I like Google Docs because it’s accessible online rather than stored on one computer) and keep a record of everyone’s email address, phone number and job title. Make sure you leave your contact info with your colleagues as well.
7. Record Your Achievements
Make a list of all your tasks and accomplishments. They’re still fresh in your mind and you can sift through your work inbox to make sure you didn’t miss anything. When you sit down to update your resume with this awesome new internship experience, you’ll be glad you have a task list for reference.
Of course, this is not to say that your resume should be a ginormous list of your tasks. It should be highlights of your accomplishments, but a task list will help you see all the pieces for the bigger picture.