Believe it or not, August has arrived and your internship is culminating or starting to wrap up. Whether this is your first or third internship, you might have some questions, concerns, or just some uncertainties about ending your internship. Here’s some advice and tips on how to successfully transition out of your summer internship and what to do now that it’s over.
1. Know What you Learned
Now that your internship is over, you can look back and reflect on what you learned. Whether you plan to pursue a future job related to your summer internship or not, your internship was an opportunity to learn about yourself, the world of work, the industry you worked in, connect to professionals with similar interests, and build your skills. Take note of the skills you used in your role, like communication and time management, as well as technical skills that are specific to your industry. Reflect on what you learned in these 4 areas:
- Skills – what do you know how to do now (or do better) than when you started?
- Knowledge – what do you know more about now than when you started?
- Personal – what have you realized about yourself through your experiences this summer? What have you learned about the world of work, or any particular industry?
- Miscellaneous – what surprised you this summer? What did you learn that you didn’t expect too?
If you had to summarize your most significant learnings into a statement about what you got out of this internship, what would that be? Future employers will definitely be asking, so get ready now, while it’s fresh.
2. Transfer Responsibilities or Tasks
Before it’s too late, start a conversation with your supervisor about what wrapping up and transitioning your work looks like. This clear communication will help you meet their expectations for what you’re leaving behind, and what still needs to be accomplished. In order for your work to have significant impact, and sustain itself after your departure, the organization needs to understand exactly what you accomplished, or, tasks need to get passed on to an employee or the next intern. You might even spend the last week or so of your internship training someone at the organization who needs key information to continue moving your project or work forward.
3. Gather Feedback
Some internships may have a formal review process at the end, but others may not. Proactively set aside time with your supervisor to go over what they think you did well, and how you can continue to develop yourself as a professional moving forward. Even though hearing any critique of your work can be challenging at times, remember that your internship is a learning experience, and the guidance your colleagues and supervisor provide over time is invaluable, and one of the best ways to learn and grow. Don’t be shy to also share with them your career goals, ask for advice, and make sure to thank them for their mentorship.
4. References and Recommendation Letters
Unless you are currently working on an application for a specific opportunity (job, fellowship, internship, graduate school, e.g.), there’s no need to ask for a recommendation letter. More commonly, you might be thinking that your supervisor could provide a strong and positive reference for you in the future. If you think that is the case, and think you might like to list them as a reference in the future, it’s a great thing to ask now, while you’re relationship is current and strong. You can say something like “I’d love to be able to list you as a reference in the future when I’m applying for internships/jobs, since you’d be able to speak to my work and how I’ve grown over this past summer. Could we keep in touch and would that be alright with you?” Don’t forget to be specific about what you’ve learned or enjoyed specifically, and thank your supervisor for their guidance and mentorship. If you don’t have a good or strong relationship with your supervisor, or, you don’t think they could provide a positive reference, its okay not to ask.
5. Discussing the Potential to Return
If you had a great experience this summer and are hoping to one day return to the organization as an intern or full-time employee, don’t be afraid to say so. It can be as simple as sharing, “I really loved working here this summer and would love to stay involved or return next year if an opportunity becomes available.” Share your passion for the company and highlight your success as an intern. Even if they don’t have any openings at the moment, it’s to your benefit that they know you’re interested in returning, and it will help them remember you if something does come up in the future.
6. Say Goodbye
You might be tempted to skip awkward conversations, but it’s important that you say goodbye and create closure in key relationships. This can happen during your last week of your internship. Find time for goodbye conversations (whether in-person or virtually) and consider writing a goodbye and thank you note or email to individuals, your department, or the organization (if it’s small and you got to know everyone). If you spent time building relationships with youth, or clients, be sure you include them about the news of your departure and connect them with someone they can connect with in your absence or during the transition.
7. Maintaining Relationship
Connecting on LinkedIn is a great way to maintain relationships with important colleagues and supervisors once you leave the organization. You can ask, “I’d love to stay connected and keep in touch after I leave, can I connect with you on LinkedIn?” Then, follow up with the LinkedIn invitation. Once they’re in your digital network, they’ll be at your fingertips to follow up with in the future for information, advice, or just to provide an update to.
8. If your Internship Didn’t go Well
If you didn’t have a good experience, remain gracious and polite so you don’t tarnish any relationships (If there was a serious issue you encountered, hopefully it’s been addressed by now with the supervisor, HR, or an advisor from the Career Center. If not, now is a good time to let someone know that there is a safety or wellbeing concern for future interns).
9. Update your Resume
While your internship is still fresh in your mind, and before Fall semester picks up speed, use these resume resources to update your profile. Write strong bullet points that tell the future reader of your resume what you accomplished this summer, and the impact it had on the organization. The more detail, the more your future employer will learn about your skills, abilities, and knowledge.
That’s right! You worked hard throughout your summer break, so take some time to do nothing, sleep in, catch up with family and friends, unwind, and recharge. Take care of yourself now, so you don’t start the Fall semester on an empty tank and burnout early.