As much as I hate to admit it, summer is coming to an end. Which means, my summer internship will be over before I know it. And I know some of my readers are busy working internships and fellowships this summer as well. This is my fourth summer internship/job and I plan to end it the same way I've ended the other ones. The way you end/leave a job is just as important as the way you start because it's the last impression you'll make on your employer and co-workers.
Here are five suggestions for things to do during your final days of your summer internship to ensure it's the best experience possible.
Thank you notes
Thank you notes are a dying practice, which makes them very special. I've written about the value of thank you notes before, and they are truly a classy touch when leaving a summer internship. Handwritten, personal little notes to your boss(es) and co-workers is a great way to show your appreciation for your summer internship experience and show the people in your office your level of professionalism, even as a student.
If you haven't already asked your supervisor/boss for feedback on your performance during the summer, now is the time! Really great supervisors will typically freely offer feedback and constructive criticism before your last day. But if she/he doesn't, reach out and find out how well you did. It's great to ask how your boss perceived your work ethic, attitude, organization, potential for succeeding in the field, strengths, and weaknesses. The negative comments will be just as beneficial as the positive ones.
Get contact information
Hopefully you've gotten to know your co-workers and boss(es) this summer to the point that you would feel comfortable asking them for a reference letter or connection once your internship ends. But in order to do this, you need to get contact information. Before ending an internship, I make sure to get the emails and phone numbers of the people I have worked with and let them know they can contact me if they need anything.
You know how on the last days of school everyone has the "I don't care, I don't care" attitude? People sometimes have that same attitude on the final days of work. I've heard of people not responding to emails, showing up late, leaving projects unfinished, and just sitting around on their final days of work. This is probably the worst thing you could do at the end of an internship/job, and believe me...your employer will notice your behavior. I always encourage people and myself to finish strong. This means showing up on time on the last days and leaving your mark by being an excellent employee until the very end.
Reflect on the experience and prepare for the next chapter
After participating in several on campus organizations in college, I have learned to love the practice of reflection. I don't consider an experience complete until I have honestly reflected upon it. When I finished my fellowship last summer, I wrote this post to reflect but also reflected in personal ways as well. It's not necessary to write down your thoughts or lessons learned, but communicating them somehow is so helpful. I still look back on old reflections before starting new experiences so that I don't repeat mistakes and I go into new environments stronger. Think about the good and bad times from your internship, what you learned about yourself and about the field of your internship, and what your internship has prepared you for.
And these tips go for any job or life experience that may be seasonal. Ending things on a good note makes the next chapter that much sweeter.