By now you’ve worked long hours, made relationships, collaborated on projects, and completed your internship experience. Hopefully, you’ve grown through the hard work and learned a few things along the way. As you look back, you can see that you have had a positive, worthwhile experience while interning because you set it up for success and worked hard during the experience.
So, now what?
Of course, your internship experience is valuable content for your resume. However, there are other ways to make an internship experience even richer after it is over.
(1) Recall your work, and write it down.
Take some time to reflect. Write out each task you completed, and think about specific action verbs to describe what you did. This will help you develop an entry about your experience for your resume. Once developed, add the details of your experience to your resume and LinkedIn profile, or write a post for your blog or an article about your experience for your school. Consider speaking on a panel at your school about your internship, or ask a professor how you might showcase your experience further. More exposure and visibility helps build credibility around you and your experience.
(2) Provide feedback.
Describe to your supervising professor or supervisor at your internship what you spent most of your time doing and what could be better for the future for other interns. Think of any related-to-your-internship advice that you could provide to others. What skills are necessary for a successful internship? What work did you enjoy? What could have been better? Keep it positive, but don't be afraid to provide constructive criticism to help future interns, the internship site, and any supervising professors understand what went well and what could be better for the future. This feedback helps you demonstrate your interest and own your experience while being an honest voice for others to learn from you and interact with you.
(3) Ask (sooner rather than later after the experience) for a letter of recommendation.
Ask for a letter of recommendation from the supervisors and colleagues with whom you worked most closely. When you ask, be prepared to have a letter or at least bullet points already written about your work with that person. This makes it easier on the person you're asking for the letter if you have something already prepared, and it allows you to control the message somewhat by helping narrow the focus for the tone and intended audience of the letter.
(4) Stay in touch.
Send a handwritten thank you note after your experience to your former supervisors and colleagues. Connect with your former supervisors and colleagues on LinkedIn. Send an old-fashioned, handwritten holiday greeting once a year. Send an e-mail once in awhile to keep them thinking of you (e.g. "this article reminded me of project ABC that we worked on together last summer. I thought you would find it interesting."). This will help you to stay at the top of their minds if you need a future reference.
(5) Just keep going.
It may be difficult to consider at this point in your career where your focus should be. As aspiring professionals, we should focus on what value we can add to a potential employer instead of creating self-serving experiences. Your first internship experience may not lead to your dream job, but trust that each experience moves you that much closer to where you would like to be. The skills, relationships, and knowledge you acquire throughout an internship experience can only help you develop professionally and personally. Have confidence that you've made important steps toward advancing your career, and you do so with each step you take or experience you accumulate. Trust the process; enjoy the journey; and stay encouraged that each internship is another step toward your career goals.
© 2017 Melanie Glover. All rights reserved.
First image above: Shutterstock.