Your internship has ended. It was a great experience and you’re glad you did it. You add it to your resume and soon forget about it, moving on to other things. Right?
Internships are the building blocks of your career. If you look at them as isolated episodes in your undergraduate or graduate school experience, you are missing the boat! Instead, you need to keep your internship experiences current – both in your mind AND on your resume. Check out the tips below to learn what to do when your internship is over.
Make a follow-up appointment with your supervisor
Make a follow-up appointment with your supervisor to thank him or her once again for the opportunity. Use this appointment to conduct an informal assessment of how you performed on the job. Questions you might want to ask include the following:
- Did I meet your expectations? Why or why not?
- What were my strongest areas?
- What could I have done better?
- What advice can you give me based on my performance here?
- Is there a possibility of returning here as a full-time employee?
- Is there anyone else you think I should speak with?
Reflect upon the experience
Conduct a self-assessment and ask yourself the following questions about the experience:
- Did you find your internship met the expectations you had when you began?
- Did your performance meet your own goals and expectations?
- What did you get out of the experience?
- Would you consider working at this company after you’ve completed college?
- Did you work as hard as you possibly could?
- What do you think you did especially well?
- What could you have done better?
- Did you enjoy this industry?
- Did this company turn out to be as phenomenal as you had expected?
- What did you learn?
- What was most beneficial to you?
- What could you have done without?
- What could you have done to make yourself more visible?
- Was this company/industry a good fit for you?
- Were there connections between what you learned on the job and what you learned in the classroom? If so, what were they?
- How did this experience affect your post-graduation plans?
- What skills did you acquire/enhance on the job?
- How did this experience stretch you?
- What did you contribute to the organization?
- What difficulties or problems did you encounter?
- Did you like or dislike the culture of the organization – dress, level of formality, physical structure of offices, staff meetings, hierarchy, worker input in decision-making, reward/recognition system?
- What changes did you see in yourself or the organization as a result of this experience?
- What recommendations would you make to improve the experience for the next intern?
Update your resume
Write down everything you did during your internship. List all of your duties, responsibilities, and accomplishments. Do not worry about whether they were trivial or impressive; just jot all of them down. Also, make a note of job functions or areas of expertise you were exposed to through your observations, even if you didn’t do those things yourself.
Reread any descriptions of your internship from when you first heard of it. If that is not available, ask your internship supervisor for suggestions on how to describe the experience.
Using this information, work with your career counselor to update your resume.
Send thank-you notes and request letters of recommendation
Write to your primary internship supervisor, as well as to anyone else with whom you worked closely or was particularly supportive. Thank them for making the internship a positive experience and tell them what you learned as a result. Even if you hated the experience and have no interest in pursuing either that organization or that field, you still need to write a brief, polite thank-you note.
Write brief notes to anyone else in the organization with whom you interacted. These folks could be valuable contacts in the future and you want to maintain contact with them.
Request a letter (or letters) of recommendation. You may do this in your thank-you note or in a subsequent note sent a few weeks later. Make the process as easy as possible for the writer by giving a list of points he/she might include in the letter, such as your basic job duties, what you learned, and how you excelled. The reflecting you have already done will help you prepare for requesting these letters.
Build on the experience
If you enjoyed the internship and think you might want to pursue that field as a career, look for ways to continue gaining experience in that area. Set up networking meetings with alumni in that field; ask professors or campus caeer counselors about joining the relevant professional associations; keep in touch with the people with whom you worked at the internship site; and start searching for another internship or part-time job in that field for the current term, upcoming break or following summer.
If you did not like the internship site or industry area, meet with a career counselor to discuss alternative areas in another field.
If you do these things each and every time you complete an internship, you will save yourself a lot of time and trouble down the road as you prepare for a full-time job upon graduation.
Taken with permission from MonsterTrak.monster.com. Written by Michelle Tullier.