If you’re spending your summer at an internship, chances are you at least care a little about your future career. As your internship comes to a close and you’re ready to head back to school, don’t waste your precious last days counting down the clock. Make the most of that time. Sometimes a last impression can be even more important than a first impression. Interns and internship coordinators weigh in on the five most important things to do before your internship ends.
1. Cruise for contacts. What good was your internship if you don’t get to use the contacts you made to help you out in the future?
“It's been extremely difficult finding a way to keep in touch with the editors who I've met, because you're constantly toeing the line between annoying and proactive,” says 20-year-old Chloe Metzger, an intern for Cosmopolitan.
It’s a fine line, but you have to walk it.
“I think an intern should be proactive about their career development.I'd say get suggestions and direction,” says Trudy Steinfeld, assistant vice president and executive director of NYU career development. “It’s also smart to do that with other people in the organization who you think have interesting jobs. All of these connections can be useful and life-changing in terms of where you go next.”
2. Don’t get too personal. Just as it’s important to stay in touch with your contacts, it’s important not to cross the line. You might be tempted to add people from your internship as Facebook friends, but it could backfire. Do you really want pictures from your fraternity's casino night showing up in your supervisor's news feed?
“Unless you are incredibly stringent about your privacy settings, it’s just not a good idea to have that kind of relationship and chance certain information becoming public to your supervisor,” says Steinfeld.
3. Find the missing link. There are other ways to stay connected. Many schools encourage students to join the professional networking site Linkedin.
“We’ve made it a requirement that in order for them to get a passing grade, they must go to Linkedin and create a profile, get recommendations and have at least 10 connections, “ says Frank Rizzone, associate director of Career Development Center at Mercyhurst College.
3. Tread Lightly. You should definitely be asking your supervisor to join you for a cup of coffee to discuss your progress, but what if your supervisor isn’t the one making hiring decisions? There are some important things to remember before hitting send on that email to the CEO.
“You have to be careful that your supervisor doesn’t perceive that you are going around them,” says Steinfeld. “If a supervisor feels like they are being undermined, it could really hurt a reference later. Ask if it’s ok and if they can recommend some senior people they’d suggest meeting with. “
Once you’re in with a higher-up, make it count.
“I tried to be as genuine and warm as possible. I think a personality will stay in someone's memory far longer than a well-crafted question,” says Metzger. “I asked what the necessary steps are for getting to that next position in my career and what pitfalls I should avoid.”
4. Drop a hint. If you’re interested in working for the company, now is the time to let your supervisor know.
“From day one till you are walking out the door, you’re under the microscope,” says Rizzone. “If you’ve done a good enough job and they’ve spent a significant amount of time training you and getting to know you, they want to get something out of it.”
“Tell them it’s been a great opportunity and that you are looking for a full-time position. It’s best to do it sooner rather than later, a couple weeks before the internship ends,” recommends Steinfeld.
5. Keep in touch…really. Don’t ask your supervisor if you can keep in touch after your internship. Just plan on doing it.
“I meet with senior heads of global recruiting all the time,” says Steinfeld. “They tell me students say they will keep in touch and then they don’t. You want to have check-ins with them. Not only should you keep in touch, you should tell them when you have a day off and visit. Proximity matters.”
In between visits, an email will do. But how often should you send one?
“Sometimes the over exuberant ones will be doing it every other day. That’s not appropriate,” says Rizzone.
It’s another fine line that Metzger has found herself walking.
“I've found that sending a friendly email every eight weeks is the best way to stay connected without appearing overeager,” she says.
Rizzone says it might also be wise to reach out more frequently as your time in college comes to an end.
“As you get closer to graduation, that would be a good time to reconnect.”
Find more about college and careers on EducationOption.