Ending on a positive note leaves a good impression
Though internships may only last a few months, you can create lasting value out of the relationships you make besides a note in your resume. Here’s a few ideas on how to have a happy ending with friends or references, (or even make new opportunities) as you leave, and make your internship everlasting.
Make a coffee date with your boss
Taking it a step further than just thanking your boss (which you should also absolutely do), offer to take him or her out for coffee. It’s a great way to gain valuable feedback on your accomplishments and work while at the internship, as well as discuss any potential for future opportunities, even mentorship.
When I was at the 6 mo. mark at my open-ended internship, I mustered up my courage and took my boss out for coffee. I asked for her honest feedback, along with discussing any potential for full-time roles down the line. Although they were looking for someone more senior to bring on full time, I felt relieved that I had at least talked to her, and it made a good impression by showing I cared. I also asked her to be a reference for any future opportunities, which she gladly did. Asking ahead of time opened the door to my contacting her, and she always replied.
Send a hand-written note
Yes, actually write it with a pen. Get a card with a picture of something you know your boss likes, such as bulldogs or basketball. Tell them something specific you learned or enjoyed, and thank them for the opportunity.
This shows you paid attention to what interests them and they will remember that. Plus, few people send hand-written anything any more, so yours will stand out. Put it in a colorful envelope while you’re at it.
Coworkers count too
Take the time to send a thoughtful, from-the-heart email to the entire company (if it’s small), or to your team or department. Thank them for the great opportunity, and notify them of your future plans, along with your contact information; and be sure to connect with them on LinkedIn. Who knows, maybe in a year a coworker will have started his or her own business and wants to hire you! Or, they may be moving to your city and want to grab a drink. The people you meet on your career journey will become your professional network.
Although your internship is over, don’t leave with projects unfinished. Make sure all of your tasks and projects are completed, or that they’re passed off to someone else who can pick up where you leave off easily. Talk with your supervisor about how to wrap things up and offer to help in any way possible with the transition of your leaving. And also literally, make sure your desk space is spick and span and cleaner than when you found it before you leave. Never leave a mess behind. They will remember that, and not in a good way.
Stay in Touch, Develop a Mentor
At any point in your career, it’s extremely valuable to find a mentor, someone you can ask a career question or get some advice on a sticky situation in the future. This could be your supervisor; or it could be a coworker you really hit it off with. Read more about mentoring in Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In.
Ask if it’s OK if you contact them, then stay in touch and make plans for the future, such as an occasional coffee or to visit an exhibit you think they’d like. Invite them to an business event or presentation. If you’re not in the city, send them a link to an interesting article or an update on a project you are working on. It doesn’t mean you have to become BFF’s, but staying in touch with at least a few people in the company is a huge plus: you can be the first to hear about any positions opening up in the future, stay friendly with the team, and gain valuable advice on the road to your career.