Summer is almost over and soon you’ll have to bid adieu to your internship. You’ll want to continue the good relationships you formed and perhaps eventually land a steady job at the company where you worked. But how do you make sure you stay at the forefront of your supervisor’s mind for a job opportunity once you complete your final project and scoot out the door? Her Campus caught up with some career experts to get the scoop on how to end your internship on the right foot, stay in touch with your internship supervisor afterward, and land your dream job.
Get friendly with different departments
During your internship, you’ve probably been focused on the projects you were assigned, so maybe you haven’t thought to expand your wings and meet people you don’t interact with every day. But now that the end is nearing, it’s super important that you start making those connections. Ask your boss if she can take you around different parts of the office to say hello to other people, or see if she can email a few people in different departments that interest you and help arrange a short meeting. You never know when a great future internship or job opportunity could open up in another wing of the company, so you’ll definitely want to have your name on people’s minds to help get your foot in the door!
Kick it up a notch around the office
In order to make yourself stand out as a promising job candidate or ensure you get a dazzling letter of recommendation, it’s important to ensure your boss remembers you. There’s no better way to do that than by showing some initiative and doing more than what’s been assigned to you in the last few weeks or days of your internship. Instead of slacking off as your office stint winds down, amp up your work level and start asking for more challenging things to do.
Ask others in the office how you can help them with their projects, and see if it’s possible to sit it on meetings to get a feel for how the company operates internally. “Go beyond the job description they provide for you,” says Ali Rodriguez, director of employer relations at the University of Miami’s Toppel Career Center. “Look for areas of opportunity to excel.” But don’t forget to do what’s actually asked of you as well!
Ask for an evaluation
Before you head out the door, make sure you ask your boss how you’ve performed during the past few months. Email her to schedule a time to sit and chat about your work. During your meeting, find out what you did well and what you could have done better, and ask for tips to help you improve in areas where you may have been lackluster. Taking the initiative to obtain an evaluation shows your investment in the company. It says you genuinely care about the work you’ve done and that you want to serve the company to the best of your ability. There’s no better way to describe a good job candidate!
Ask for a recommendation
As the last day of your internship nears, you should start thinking about obtaining recommendation letters and references for future job and internship applications. Don’t wait until the last minute to ask your boss. “That’s something that is a great discussion point before you leave,” Rodriguez says. “When you’re wrapping up and evaluations are happening, at that point, when you have the person face-to-face, say, ‘Do you feel comfortable writing a strong recommendation for me?’ [If] you have that person secured, they know that’s something you may be reaching out for.”
According to Vicki Salemi, founder of the Career Boot Camp for College Grads and author of Big Career in the Big City: Land a Job and Get a Life in New York, it’s better to ask for a recommendation as soon as possible and even request that the letter be sent to you within a few days. “I wouldn’t wait too long because then you’ll be out of sight, out of mind,” she says. If you don’t receive the letter in a couple weeks, Salemi suggests you follow up. A quick email with a friendly reminder should do the trick!
If you end up using your boss as a reference for a job or internship application in the future, don’t forget to tell her, even after you initially ask for her permission. “You should always contact your references ahead of time letting them know they may be contacted [and] what the position and company is,” says career advisor Rochelle Sharit. Ultimately, when you tell your boss in advance, she’ll have more time to prepare a quality letter or stellar reference to help you land great opportunities in the future.
Show your gratitude
There’s no better way to show your genuine appreciation for the job—and make yourself a memorable intern—than by saying thank you. Thank your boss and others you’ve worked with throughout the course of the internship before you head out the door. Follow this up with a handwritten note to your boss as soon as possible after your internship is done. “A personalized note expressing your appreciation for the opportunity will help you stand out,” Sharit says.
In addition to being polite, a thank you note serves as a great means to lead in to further communication in the future. You can also use it as a subtle reminder about recommendations and references. Thank your boss again for offering to put in a good word for you for future positions and express your hopes to talk with her soon.
Check in periodically
A great way to continue networking and ensure your boss remembers you after your internship ends is to send over an email once in a while to say hello. Both Rodriguez and Salemi suggest checking in about a month after the end of your internship. “You can make a joke that the place has probably fallen apart without you (to) keep it light,” Salemi says. But only kid around if you feel it’s appropriate – if your supervisor was the more serious type, match that tone in your email!
Salemi and Sharit also suggest sending over an article related to your boss’s work that you think will interest her. This is an easy way to initiate a conversation while also showing enthusiasm and attention to the company’s line of work. And if you’ve worked on a project related to the company’s field since you’ve left the office, feel free to pass that along, too! This will not only show your interest in the field, but also display the skills you’ve developed.
If you’re still near your internship location, you can also ask via email if your supervisor would be willing to meet for lunch or coffee. This could work out especially well during the holiday season if you’re home and your internship is nearby, but if you aren’t close enough for an in-person meet up, Rodriguez says to continue emailing your boss about once every month to keep up a longstanding dialogue. This approach is generally acceptable, but she says to also feel out how frequently you should get in touch based on your relationship with your boss. “Each person is different,” she says. “The monthly formula doesn’t work for everyone. You have to judge based on your own experience, but that’s a good starting point.”
Help out part-time
Are you set to head back to school for the fall, but really intrigued by the project your company is about to undertake? Before you say goodbye, politely ask your boss if you can still help out! If you’re going to school nearby, you may be able to go into the office for a few hours a week, and if you’re out of town, you could help out remotely by doing some freelance work. But remember to specifically outline what you’re interested in so you can enjoy the experience as much as possible. “You don’t have to be overly demanding, (but) instead, politely mention that you’re interested in helping out with projects on a part-time basis,” Salemi says. “That’s one sure way to remain top of mind as well. If you don’t ask, remember: your boss is not a mind reader. He or she will not know you’re available and interested to continue the internship.”
Kate Geraghty, a recent graduate of Northwestern University, expressed interest in helping out with projects at Girls’ Life magazine after her internship there ended two summers ago – and she ended up working on them! “I think it helped that I showed I was interested in the company and the job, not just in doing work and a line on my resume,” Kate says. “I wanted to help because I liked the work and it interested me. If you’re enthusiastic about something, you’re more likely to work hard and do a good job, and you’ll be on their mind for new opportunities if they know that.”
And Kate did stay on her boss’s mind. After she volunteered to help out at an event with other former interns as well as contribute to other projects, her boss reached out and offered her a position as a senior intern—a paid gig that was a step up from her unpaid stint the summer before! Kate suggests that other college students be aggressive in pursuing more work with their company of choice if they want to eventually move up in the ranks. “Doing that showed that I was interested in working with the company even after my internship was supposed to be over,” she says.
Express interest in job opportunities
If you’re searching around for jobs and come across a listing for one at your company, don’t be afraid to mention your interest in an email to your boss. Even if it’s not in the department where you worked, your supervisor can help you out big time by talking to other department heads and putting you in touch with people at human resources. “It’s important to plant the seeds,” Salemi says. “To land an interview, you need to remain top of mind. In one of the emails, you can say, ‘Oh, by the way, just a friendly reminder, I saw a position in another department and would love to pursue it—is there someone in HR who I may contact?’”
If you’ve kept in touch with your boss and made yourself stand out during your internship, “he or she will pass along your resume to the hiring manager for sure,” Rodriguez says. Companies are looking to hire their former interns, Rodriguez says, so you if you performed well during your time there, then you’ll already have a leg up! “They would always rather hire the intern whose work ethic they’ve experienced, whose work product they’ve seen,” Rodriguez says. “It makes you a good candidate if you’ve had a successful internship.”
But be careful not to be too pushy in expressing your interest for the position. Don’t ask the company to hire you, Salemi says, but just “simply state that you would love to be considered if a job opportunity becomes available down the road.”
And remember, even if you may have an advantage over other candidates, you still have to go through the standard application process just like everyone else. Don’t assume you’re guaranteed the position, so make sure your resume and cover letter are in tip-top shape and be prepared to rock your interview!
Keep up with the company through social media
Just because you’re not physically in the office anymore doesn’t mean you can’t stay connected with the company where you interned! Like their Facebook page, follow their Twitter account, and connect with your boss and colleagues on LinkedIn to get the latest scoops on their projects. Staying plugged in will also ensure you learn about any job openings the company may have. You can also stay informed about any recruiting visits the company is planning to make to your school, which Rodriguez says could lead to a gig as a campus spokesperson and help you put your enthusiasm and interest on display.
But don’t just be a social media bystander! If your company just had a big paper published, won a meaningful award, or experienced another milestone, tweet out a congratulations or share an article about the achievement on Facebook. “The more you can do to remain top of mind both online and offline, the better,” Salemi says. But be careful not to document every little thing the company does. “You don’t want to come across as overanxious and stalker-ish, so you may want to retweet their company profile once a week, but five times a day would be pushing it,” she says.
Dale Lavine, one of Her Campus’s Real Live College Guys, said he’s used LinkedIn and Google+ to stay plugged in with his bosses at Key Reactions, where he’s had a paid writing gig. “I’ve connected with my boss through LinkedIn, and her boss connected with me through Google+ … and she’s offered to write me any letter of recommendation I need should I ever need one,” he says.
Stay in touch with fellow interns
In the process of networking, it’s not just your bosses and other higher-ups that are important, but your fellow interns as well. Try to keep in touch with them by connecting on LinkedIn, becoming Facebook friends, and following each other on Twitter. And if you go to school in the same area, try to meet up once in a while! “Hopefully your internship wasn’t only educational, but fun as well!” Salemi says. “Your internship together probably [helped you bond], so it’s important to keep those relationships flourishing.” Besides being potential lunch buddies, your fellow interns can help out immensely with networking by telling you about open job opportunities or assisting you in getting in the door at companies they may work at in the future. So don’t forget to say hello every once in a while!
If you remember to follow these simple tips, you’ll be sure to stand out in the job search process and land your dream position. Happy networking!