Internships may come and go, but – if you let them – the connections you make can last a lifetime. Whether you’re dying to hear what’s going on at your old stomping ground or hoping to get a stellar recommendation, staying in contact with old bosses is absolutely imperative. However, there is a fine line between keeping in touch and being that intern. With our rules, you’ll be networking like a pro.
Rule 1: Never underestimate the power of networking
If the internship is already on your resume, why do you need to reconnect with them? Believe it or not, touching base with your employers after your internship is possibly just as important as the internship itself. “The best part about having a great relationship with your former boss is that they can also open doors outside your old company,” says Ginny Soskey, a marketing manager at Shareaholic who also presents networking workshops to collegiettes. If your old supervisor hears about an internship opportunity, who do you think he or she will email first: the girl who packed her bags and ran for the hills or the girl who still keeps in touch?
Rule 2: Touch base with your supervisor before you leave (if you still can)
Set yourself apart from the rest by contacting your boss while you’re still interning. Um, what? Getting some sacred one-on-one time will instantly put you ahead of the curve. “Try setting up a meeting with your boss before you leave so you can get feedback on how you did at the internship,” says Soskey. “At the meeting, you can get an idea of whether your boss may want to stay in touch and help you with your next internship or job search.” Not to mention the feedback will help you in the future!
Rule 3: The sooner you reconnect, the better
Nothing says, “I’m merely using you for your status and connections” more than shooting your old boss an email right before you begin your next internship search or need to submit a recommendation letter. Can we say manipulative? “You shouldn’t just be reaching out to your former boss when you want or need something,” says Kelly Forde, a career specialist at Boston University’s College of Communication. “Assuming you left on good terms, I would say reconnect within two months.” Since you’re not waiting until you need something from them, you’re showing your old employer that you genuinely want to touch base.
Rule 4: Touch base with your employer every few months
So how often should you contact your old boss? Even if you secretly wish that you were besties with your supervisor, once every few months will suffice. “You want to make sure that they don’t forget you and you certainly want them to remember you,” says Forde. But what are you supposed to say? Simply asking your old supervisor how everything is in the office or updating them on your life at school will do the trick. If the two of you bonded over something during the summer - say, your mutual love for Pretty Little Liars - don’t be afraid to bring it up. Just when you think your internship is history, a simple email or tweet will remind your ex-boss of all the amazing things you did!
Rule 5: Show how much you still appreciate your internship
Now that you’ve nailed the appropriate timeframe, what’s next? Another easy way to get the conversation rolling is to let your old boss know that your internship made a difference in your life. “I would always make sure to stay positive and reference specific things you learned from your former boss and give examples of how that is helping you in your new position,” says Forde. Whether learning Photo Shop last summer helped you in your graphic design class or your social media- filled internship turned you into a Twitter pro, your boss will love that you appreciate the little things. Just don’t forget to ask how everything in the office is – the conversation shouldn’t just be about you!