Monday, August 11, 2008

Internship Post Mortem

This is the time of year when people start saying things like "Can you believe it's almost Labor Day?" and "Wow, the summer really flew by this year." The end of summer is usually bemoaned by pretty much everyone, as students prepare to head back to class and the lazy days of summer start to come to an end. There's still plenty of time between now and the beginning of fall quarter at the University of Chicago, but for many students, their summer internships may only have a few weeks left to go. Whether you're in the home stretch, or if you're working right up until the day before classes start up again, here are a few tips for leaving your internship and making it work for you even after your hard work is over.

*Be clear about your last day of work. If you haven't already, be sure to talk about your supervisor about when your last day will be. This doesn't mean letting the organization know that tomorrow (or worse, today) is your final day in the office. Whenever possible, give your supervisor at least two weeks notice, so that you can wrap up any projects that you're working on and transition your other day-to-day work to employees who will be staying on.
*Ask for an evaluation. Many internship programs have an evaluation period built in, but even if yours doesn't, ask your supervisor to spend 30 minutes with you, going over your accomplishments from the summer, and areas in which you can improve. Take any constructive criticism seriously - internships are a chance to learn a great deal about the workplace, so if your supervisor is telling you how to improve, make an effort to address those areas.
*Ask for a recommendation. Depending on how your evaluation goes you should plan to ask your supervisor to serve as a professional reference in the future. As long as the majority of what your supervisor has to say about your work is positive, ask him or her if you can add his or her name to your list of references. When you apply for future positions (both internship and full-time) you'll want to have a list (3 - 4 people) of individuals who can vouch for you, and let a potential employer know that you're hard-working and reliable. NOTE: Be sure you actually ASK your supervisor to be a reference, and receive an affirmative answer, before you put him or her down as a reference. Even if you think you have a good relationship, you want to give your supervisor fair warning if he or she will need to speak on your behalf in the future.
*Collect business cards. Take some time to speak with the other full-time staff in your organization who you've worked with, and ask them if you can keep in touch with them in the future. Even if you didn't report into these staff members, you never know when one of those individuals will find themselves in the position to make hiring decisions - or may move over to another organization where you might like to work. The same is true for fellow interns. Collect emails of other students you've worked with this summer and keep in touch. Those interns could be your colleagues in the next few years, and you want to maintain communication with them.

For more tips about how to finish up your internship and make the most of it, schedule an appointment with CAPS by calling (773) 702 - 7040.

Questions or suggestions for finishing up in style? Post them here.

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