Don't Leave An Internship Before Doing These 4 Things
There’s plenty of advice out there about how to get an internship and how to make a good impression in the first days of your internship—but the impression you make in the last days of your internship is just as important, if not more so. As the summer comes to an end, many students are struggling with how to leave on the best possible note. It may seem overwhelming, but in fact, there are only four things that are absolutely necessary in order to be remembered as a great intern.
1. Finish The Entire Internship
If it seems to you that this goes without saying, great, now there are only three things to think about. However, as someone that works with a lot of high-achieving, often over-scheduled students, I see a lot of students struggle to fit a decent-length internship into their summer. I would say that most formal summer internship programs are 8-12 weeks long, although those geared towards high school students may be more like 6-10 weeks. Many of my students don’t take part in formal internship programs because they’re the only intern where they’re working, but generally, companies prefer interns to be available for at least six weeks in a row, since it takes at least a week or so to get an intern trained and at a point where they’re doing more meaningful and useful tasks and projects. However, with many schools shortening their summer breaks, sports teams starting their training programs before school starts, and other commitments like trips to visit family, many students aren’t able to complete the entire formal program or spend at least six weeks at an informal internship. This can leave a negative impression that can overshadow your positive attributes and accomplishments. It’s best to make sure that everyone knows your schedule before you begin the internship, preferably with enough time for both of you to find other options if it’s a dealbreaker. Still, if you unexpectedly need to leave early, there are ways to handle it—the best advice is to be honest with the person you’re closest to and ask for their advice about what to do. Then, following that advice, speak in-person with the person or people who would need to approve you leaving, and don’t tell them you’re leaving early: ask to leave early. If you handle the conversation in a mature and respectful way, they’ll likely remember you fondly.
2. Write Physical Thank-You Notes
This is commonly-given advice, and there’s been plenty written about what to include in the note that I won’t get into here. But what’s often lost is that the note should be hand-written or at least on paper. This advice is often creatively reinterpreted as “write thank-you emails/LinkedIn connection requests.” That’s not what it means. I see this all the time with my students—they know, in theory, that they should write a thank-you note. They may have heard that it should be a physical note. They will invariably ignore this advice and send an email. Do not send an email. (Or do, but in addition to a physical note.) I have a feeling that this reluctance stems from self-consciousness about handwriting—most (all but twelve) states no longer require cursive, and few students these days are...