The waning days of summer are here and your internship should be steadily wrapping up. It’s an exciting time to get prepared to start your next college semester and wrap up your final projects.
You might not get new projects to work on because there isn’t much time left. But you’re still in the office, so it’s important to take advantage of these final weeks and get all you can out of your internship. Here are some tips on what to get done before you leave.
Help with the small things
Hopefully, your internship involved meaningful projects or long-term engagements working with an employee. When it's all wrapping up and you're not getting much new to do, you should try to be helpful to whoever you can in the meantime.
Go out of your way to offer help to others. Don't ask them what you can do -- just thinking about that is work for them. Instead, figure out how you can slide in and be helpful and offer them that immediate assistance. Someone's working on a presentation? Maybe you can work on the visuals. Big meeting coming up? Take over some of the research.
A lot of people who manage internships don't know how to hand out work when they don't have more substantial projects to give to their interns, so take the initiative in figuring out how you can fill your days.
Tick off your wish list
When you first started your internship, you probably had some idea of what you wanted to get out of it, aside from the notion of work experience and a recommendation letter. You may have wanted to expand on a specific skillset, learn from others who are already in the role you want to be in one day, or even meet and learn from someone in particular.
The end-of-summer lull is a great time to bring that wish list back to the fore. Because your internship, regardless of whether you’re a paid or unpaid intern, should be an opportunity for you to get the guidance and skills you’ll need to enter the workforce after graduation. And organizations should (and most do) want to make sure you've gotten what you expected, whether it's to get you to come back later to work full time or just to send you away with positive vibes about them.
So figure out your list of must-have and must-learn bullet points, write them down, and go to your manager for a conversation. Talk about what you want to do and learn in the last few days to make sure that you’ve gotten the most you can out of the experience. Ask them to connect you with the right people that can make it happen. By doing this, you’ll give yourself every opportunity to be fully satisfied with the internship.
A round of final meetings
Part of a high quality internship experience is the opportunity to meet great people at the company, from your manager, to other low to mid level workers, and even to engaged and caring executives. If you’re at the right organization, it’s a time to both contribute to and learn from a team of people that are interested in your career and progress.
Some may become your friends. Some may become your mentors. Many can become people who share their expertise and even their contacts with you. It’s a natural drive in human beings to help the young out, so let them pay it forward.
That’s why it’s important to close out your internship with a round of meetings with each person who has been even moderately helpful and instructive during your time there. Those meetings will transition your relationship from an intern-employee relationship to a professional relationship, where you’ll be able to add them on LinkedIn, keep in touch regularly, and continue to benefit from their expertise and network.
So make sure you grab each person when they have a moment and sit down to have a chat with them. It doesn’t have to be long. Just ask for feedback on your performance, a few last tips on what you should do next in your career, and most importantly, get their contact information if you don't have it.
Once you've gone through all these steps, you'll have made sure to miss none of the benefits that come with being able to join an organization for a summer internship.