With the start of school comes the end of summer internships for thousands of students across the country and abroad. Before you head back to campus, here are a few things that you MUST do in order to ensure that you capitalize on your internship experience.
- Make a list of everyone that you've met at the company during the internship. Include your fellow interns on this list. Through Google Docs or Excel, make a spreadsheet to keep important contact information organized. Make sure you save this file on your computer and have it backed up.
- Decide how you will organize your contacts as a professional. One day, you won't be communicating through your school email address. What is your plan? Gmail? Outlook? Decide how you will store your contacts and start storing them today. Make sure that while you are at the company you get the email address, mailing address and office number for all of the people on your list.
- Remember your fellow interns as very important contacts for the future. These are your future colleagues. Make sure you are connected with them on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and that you have their contact information -- know where they go to school and where they are from. If you happen to be in the same city, make sure you get together with them. Often times, these people can be your best contacts for the future.
- Plan a "Last Day of Internship" social activity for your graduating intern class. Think of a "Rated G" event that you can all do together. Perhaps a potluck, bowling outing, baseball game or something that everyone – even those under 21 – can participate in and still have fun.
- Take it on yourself to create a contact list of everyone's information from your intern class and pass it out to everyone.
- Invest in personal stationary or thank you cards at the store, and start writing out notes to all of your professional contacts at the internship. Mail these on the last day of your internship so they receive them only a few days later. Don't hand these out, put them in the mail.
- Make a note in your calendar for three to four months from the last day of your internship. That's the next time you should contact your professional contacts. Reach out to these people every three to four months. Make this a habit; if you wait to long to reach out again, you run the risk of having to remind them of who you are. But keep in contact consistently and they'll be more likely to remember.
- Ask your direct boss (internship coordinator) if he/she has time to sit down with you for five or 10 minutes before your last day. Tell them about your career path and get advice on how they got started. Make sure you always say thank you and that you appreciate any time they might have.