Are you coming to the end of your internship and starting to plan your next move? Not so fast! The last few days or weeks should be used as a chance for you and your team members to review the time you have spent at the company. The end of an internship does not have to mean that the door is closed to you. Now is your opportunity to lay down the foundations for a long-term relationship with the company or with some of the staff by staying in touch, or maybe even working together after your internship finishes. So, how do you mark the end of this chapter in your professional life and move on to the next one? Here are some tips on how to get the most out of this experience and to make sure that it serves you well for the future.
- Ask for feedback from your supervisor or colleagues
The primary purpose of an internship is to give those without the relevant experience the chance to observe a trade or a sector of activity, and to get acquainted with the professional world. It can be a once-in-lifetime opportunity to acquire new knowledge and skills—and an excellent way for you to get some feedback from a company on the way you work. It is difficult to judge your work yourself. Even if you have had feedback after several months of working with a team, it is in your best interests to ask for a complete appraisal of your time at the company before you finish up. You could wait for your supervisor to suggest it or you could be proactive by asking them beforehand, or even organise a small meeting with your current colleagues. When you are having your exchange, be open to criticism and that way the feedback will be constructive. It will not just allow you to validate some of the skills you have acquired and reinforce your confidence in your abilities, but it will also provide you with some useful ideas on areas for improvement. You could also ask your supervisor or your colleagues for some practical advice on how to improve certain aspects of your work such as which organisational tools or processes to put in place.
- Give some feedback to your supervisor
What if the student became the teacher? As an intern, you are there to learn but the feedback you give to your supervisor could benefit them too, particularly in terms of management and support. Your feedback might be welcome as long as you remain respectful, humble and you make statements about the impression you were given. You can focus your account of the experience on what made you a little uncomfortable in terms of their management or communication skills, without looking like you are lecturing them. This way, your internship supervisor will have elements of reflection and analysis that will help them to progress in their management skills and help them to provide better support to interns in the future. This two-way conversation will also allow you to create an authentic professional connection with that person for the rest of your career. On your end, it could inspire you to make a note of what to do and what not to do should you ever have to manage an intern one day.
- Show an interest in any position that excites you
Don’t forget the primary goal of an internship: to introduce you to the world of work. So you should make use of your last few days in a company to look into other positions or teams. Who knows, you might find your true calling just round the corner from your current office. Taking an interest in the other positions in your team or even another one, can open you up to new professional options and enrich your knowledge of the business world. If you think your employer would not be against it and it would not interfere with your work, you could ask about spending a day or two extra at the company observing those in roles that intrigue you.
- Take advantage of the last few weeks by trying new things
When you arrive at a company, especially as an intern, you may come across as very quiet or even shy. Some interns go overboard in their attempts to show their respect for managers. They don’t dare to share the ideas swimming around in their heads because they are scared of looking overconfident or silly. If everything has gone well, however, towards the end of your internship, you should have a good idea of how the business works, which will allow you to weigh up your ideas before presenting them to your colleagues. Any suggestions you make that are adopted or fresh ideas you introduce will give you additional experience, even if they don’t work out, and they will leave your colleagues with a positive impression of you. Remember that if one of your concepts gets chosen and developed, you may be in charge of making it happen, which will be extremely rewarding at the end of your internship. And you will definitely have no regrets about your time at the company!
- Set things up for the next person
When you come to the end of an internship, it would be a shame to let all your hard work go to waste. To honor your time there and leave a good impression, you should make your successor’s early days as easy as possible. Remember that when they arrive, they will not necessarily know everything that you know after having spent several months at the company. Your role is key to a smooth handover. You will be the most suitable person to provide them with instructions and advice to help them to be as effective as possible. You could start by giving your files a good spring clean and putting order on any ongoing projects. While you are creating or updating internal documents, you should leave any important information at their disposal so they can find their way around easily. Facilitating the work of others and passing on information also shows how professional you are.
- Thank your colleagues for their hospitality
It is important to thank those who have made this important step in your career a good experience. So do not forget to pay particular attention to those who made you feel welcome, to those who taught you things, and to those who were part of your daily life for months. The easiest way to do this is to write thank-you emails and to say goodbye as your departure approaches, before thanking them in person when you are leaving. However, you could also organise a leaving party to mark the occasion or, if you like, give everyone a little gift.
- Make sure you stay in touch with your colleagues
In some cases, an internship can turn into a temporary or permanent contract quite quickly. That’s not always possible as there may not be any vacancies when your internship comes to an end. However, the team that took you under their wing as an intern might think of you for a future vacancy or for freelance work, or even recommend you to other companies who are looking for a candidate like you, whether for the position you held or for a different one. So make sure to stay in touch with your colleagues by email, by giving them your phone number or by sending them a request on a social or professional network such as LinkedIn. You will see that networking is important for your career and that it’s in your interest to start creating your network now.
- Conduct your own assessment
If your school or university asks for a report at the end of your internship, it is not just because they would like to assess what you have gained in terms of know-how and interpersonal skills. It’s also a great way to make you take stock of your experience. Whether you are expected to produce an official report or not, you should draw up a personal appraisal, which you do not have to show to anyone. You can take stock and then write up your report in a notebook or on your computer. This will allow you to create a frank assessment of what you enjoyed or didn’t, what you found easy and the difficulties you came across. This way, you will be able to start the rest of your professional life with a little bit of clarity.
The last few weeks of your internship can give you the chance to add extra value to the experience. It’s during this final stretch that you may be able to transform a good internship into an excellent one. Remember our advice so this encounter can help you to lay solid foundations for your future career.
Translated by Mildred Dauvin
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